Review: Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal by Apologia Educational Ministries

Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review
If you know anything about my family and our homeschool than you know that we take our field trips seriously!  We LOVE to get out and explore.  I’m a big believer in making school as hands on and adventurous as I possibly can.  Of course I love to record where we’ve been and what we learned.  I didn’t have a perfect system for that so I was excited when I was given the opportunity to review Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal by Apologia Educational Ministries.

What We Received!

This is a very nice quality spiral bound notebook.  It lays flat when opened.  The front and back covers are made from a nice quality laminated stock that will hold up well to lots of handling.  This is a very good thing.  If your field trips are like ours than this thing will get tossed into backpacks, laid on top of coolers, bounced around the van, and thumbed through by lots of little (or not so little) hands.  Even the pages are printed a fine quality thicker stock material.

6224c2ac-a11b-4ef4-8b80-d1e6914d6e59_zpsn5ilbsmsThe notebook is split up into several sections:

  • Preparing for the field trip – this section contains tips for you as the teacher.  What things can you do in the weeks or days leading up to the trip to prepare and therefore get the most from you experience.  How best can you pack for the trip, what can be done on the way to the destination to ensure safety and success.    In this section, for example, they suggest the teacher do a little research about the location/history/topic so that he/she can be at the ready to answer questions and guide the experience.  They have suggestions for students as well.
  • Field trip ideas – here you’ll find two pages of field trip ideas (over 100) segregated by topic.  The suggestions are generic, for example visit a Planetarium under Space/Aviation, in order to make it relevant to just about anyone no matter where you live.
  • CSH_7544Places I’ve Explored – these are pages dedicated to recording the various places your family has explored within your state, country, and the whole world.
  • Field Trip Pages – There are 12 specific trip pages to record details about specific experiences you’ve had on trips that you want to remember.
  • My Special Spot- This is a great place to record seasonal wildlife.  Children can draw or place photographs of what they see.
  • Thoughts and Drawings As I See It – This is sort of a journal/sketchbook section.  Some pages have little prompts like Movement, or Predators & Prey.  Others are totally open ended with no prompt.

Apologia also provides bonus online material that includes virtual feild trip ideas, lists of museums and aquariums, and lots more.  A very very handy resource

How We Used It!

Since we received this journal a couple of months ago we have been on at least four field trips.. no five… wait it might be six! Plus there was supposed to be one other that was postponed.  It is spring time, we’ve been cooked up in the house all winter… it is time to GO GO GO!  We used this journal to record four of those trips.  A couple of them were to places we’ve visited dozens of times (museum passes are a Godsend) so we chose not to record those and instead stick to new or out of the ordinary experiences.CSH_7545

So far we’ve mostly used the pages related to Specific Trips.  Before a trip I did a google search to see if I could come up with a map that I could download.  We taped that into our journal.  Then I attempted to answer the questions as they are laid out.  One asks for an Emergency Contact Plan.  This is always… Call Daddy.  Then I ask the kids what they’d like to see or do at the destination and I record that.  There is a section for recording books we’ve read to prepare for the trip.

After the trip we fill in the last two sections… Story of my day and  Something I never want to forget.  I also print of a photo from the day and include that too.  We’ve also tried to fill in the Places I’ve Explored pages.  Plus, since it is spring we recorded some observations from our yard on the My Special Spot in Spring page.

What Do We Think?

This is a great quality product.  It is well made, bright and colorful, and chock full of great ideas and pages that will help you get the most out of your field trip experiences.  I think it could be even better though.  As a seasoned homeschooler I don’t feel like I need the Preparing for a Field Trip pages.  These would be great as a web link or download but they don’t need to take up two pages of the Journal.  We personally need way more Specific Trip pages.  12 isn’t nearly enough if you are really an on the go family like we can be at certain times of year.  I could potentially fill those pages in 3-4 months even if we only included NEW places or experiences that were some how novel.  I’d love to see that section seriously beefed up with 3-4 times as many pages.  That way if you are an on the go family like my own, one book could cover a year.  Another family that doesn’t venture out quite as much could keep this book going for a couple of years.

Over all though.  This is a great journal and if you’d like a great place to track your field-trip memories you’ll really enjoy this product.

Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review
 

Crew Disclaimer

First day of homeschool: A dad’s view

My wife and I talked about homeschooling long before we our oldest son was even remotely close to being school-aged.  We’re almost always on the same page with things and what to do on the first day of school is no exception.  First day of school means one thing.  FIELD TRIP!!!! Growing up field trips were always the highlight of the school year.  Yeah of course we got out of going to class and doing “real” work, but most of the time they were fun and you really DID learn something.

For us , back to school day in the past has sometimes meant a “not back to school day”  We’ve enjoyed a beautiful day at the beach instead of the kids rushing off to school.   What could possibly be better than having a day away as a family relaxing at a near empty beach.    That day was a great way to say goodbye to summer and start off the school year rejuvenated!

Fun in the sun!

Fun in the sun!

 

Last year we had our first day of school in New York City.   The core of the science unit was going to be astronomy and the Space Shuttle Enterprise is at the Intrepid Museum.  What a great way to kick off learning!! All year long as I got opportunities to do science with them, we could reflect back to our trip!  Being there with them was truly a blessing and really helped me connect all year long.

Off to see the shuttle

 

Being a part of their first day of school does some amazing things

  1. I get to show them I value homeschooling.   In taking a day off from work to be with them and engaging in the activities of the day, I show them that their education is important to me.  My hope is that this isn’t the only day I show them this, but that its the start of a daily reminder that we are blessed.
  2. It shows I value them.   It is often easy for dad’s to get caught up in work and let mom’s do all the schoolwork stuff.  Taking a day with them shows I value them more than anything else.  Again,  I want my kids and wife to feel loved and valued every day.  Making a special production of this big day is always a lot of fun!
  3. It allows me to start the year engaged and fully a part of their education.  I now have a starting point for what’s going to be taking place all year.   This connection allows me to easily re-engage them as the year goes on and build on what my wife has been working on daily.  It also gives me a chance to help her catch up on things when life gets crazy, because it does!
  4. It allows us to reflect on how far they’ve come.  Each year the kids write down some of their favorite things as well as drawing a picture.   It gives the whole family a chance to reflect on how their interests and abilities have come over the last year.

I’d love to know what other families do on the first day of homeschool!  We’re always looking for new and different ideas to add into our first-day routine.

To read about other homeschool families and their back to school traditions please visit this link here.

 

Homeschooling In Connecticut… Guest Post At A Glimpse of Our Life

Homeschooling in Connecticut

Do you want to know which is the absolute best state in the country to homeschool?  Connecticut!  Yes, tiny little old Connecticut!  Hard to believe such a tiny rather obscure state could be so awesome but it really is.  Why?  Well I’m glad you asked… let me tell you!

For those curious to know, because I would be, Connecticut is a non-reporting state.  Yes, that is right, we do not HAVE to fill out a notice of intent.  It isn’t required.  If you want you can just do your thing and no one will ever bother you.  It is all perfectly legal and I have to say, that is such freedom.

There are other reasons homeschooling rocks in Connecticut.  Where else in the entire country can you take a short train or car trip and hit not only New York City to the west but Boston to the north?  The plethora of museums and cultural experiences in these two cities is staggering and all it takes is a day trip!  Oh and the history! So much history in this area of the country it is dizzying.  Or if you prefer just turn south and before you know it you’ve hit the ocean!  We are so centrally located right here in tiny old Connecticut.

To read of my article about homeschooling in Connecticut please visit A Glimpse of Our Life!  Jennifer has collected an array of articles that highlight the best homeschool friendly places to visit across our glorious country.  Post a comment and let me know that you stopped by!

More Summer Fun! New York City!

It seems to be becoming an annual thing.  My husband Todd and I celebrate our wedding anniversary by taking the crew to New York City.  We’ve done it now at least 2 years in a row.  This year was awesome, it had to be as it was our 10th anniversary! Our boys LOVE LOVE LOVE traveling into the city.  Between the train ride, the sites, the sounds, and all of the fun who could blame them!The train ride takes about 2 hours.  Our biggest concern is who is going to be able to sit near the window.  That usually works itself out.  They manage to figure out how to take turns or they just make room for each other.  The chatter is non-stop as these two ooh and ahh over every little thing they see.

Of course Joyanna is coming to an age where she wants in on the action too! Fortunately a good snack can still keep her pretty occupied.  We dole it out slowly, over the course of nearly the entire trip!

Our biggest plan for this particular trip was to spend a great time at the Intrepid Air and Space Museum.  We belong to a local museum that affords us the opportunity to visit museums across the country for free.  This was on our list of places we had to visit.  The boys relished the sights and sounds of such a big ship.  The displays of helicopters, air places of over shape and size, and space artifacts were just amazing.

The Intrepid museum is one of the few chosen to be home to one of the recently retired NASA space shuttles.  Space Shuttle Enterprise will soon land in New York City.  You better believe we’ll be planning another trip to check that out!

The day is a long one.  It was awful hot too.  Especially on the deck of the Intrepid.  Poor Ezra had about all he could handle and lost it for a few minutes.  Luckily he wasn’t upset for long because just after we finished our tour we hopped the subway and landed in Rockefeller Center home of…. THE LEGO STORE!

If you know little boys at all you know that they adore Legos.  I’d say my two are particularly obsessed.  I hear they take after their Daddy and Uncle Tyler.

The day was coming to an end.  We picked up some dinner and then headed back to the train station for the trip back home.

A sweet end to a perfect summer day.  We can’t wait until next year!  Thanks for reading!

Yummy Field Trip! Our Day at Sweet Wind Farm!

It was Friday.  A beautiful Friday for March by New England’s standards.  Warm enough to ditch the coat and absolutely sunny.  We had plans.  Plans big enough that they kept my husband home from work.  We were going on a field trip!  Not just any field trip but a trip to Sweet Wind Farm in East Hartland CT to learn all about how real maple syrup is made.  We’d been talking about this trip for a month or two.  My friend Julia had arranged everything.  All of our best friends from our homeschool group would be there.

I revel in days like these.  There was a time when I wouldn’t have thought my life would be quite like this.  Before my children were born I worked a regular day job just like everyone else.  I was up before dawn, out the door at sunrise, on my feet all day, and home after dark.  I had a physically and emotionally exhausting career that left me spent, used up, and spit out every single day.  Never did I imagine that I could ever leave that behind.  God has blessed me tremendously.  I soaked up the day for all it was worth.

We began with a wonderful lesson by Susan Case.  She and her husband Arlow have steadily built this farm with their own two hands over the last couple of years.  They have homeschooled children of their own and it was so evident in the wonderful way Susan handled and taught our group.  She had so many props, photos, and examples.  All of the children were eager and willing participants in her lessons.

We were given the 5 star treatment!  A complete guided tour with a great explanation of how each and every piece of equipment operates.  We were especially lucky on our day as they were knee deep in production.  We were told their recent groups were not lucky enough to see everything in action.   Who knew making maple syrup was such a hot and steamy production!

 

We completed our day with a taste test.  How could we leave without one right?  Now I’ve had real maple syrup before and I wasn’t impressed.  I’m not quite sure what it was but there was something about the flavor that left me thinking… YUCK!  NOT Sweet Wind Farm’s maple syrup though.  It was DELICIOUS!  I made Todd go back and buy a jug.  YUMMY!  We’ve enjoyed it nearly every day since.

 

I think we’ll make this an annual tradition.  It sure was a fine day!  Thank you Susan and Arlow!  See you next year!  If not before!

 

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