Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Studying Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky

Our first unit study is considerably more seatwork oriented than I'd normally choose, but in my defense, it is meant to be done primarily in the car, where the children will be seated, so there you go. The activities, however, are just as eclectic as my kiddos.

First we have the binder:
I covered each girl's binder in a brown paper bag book cover, and let them decorate them. Willow actually chose thematically-appropriate decorations:
This unit study is on each of the states that we'll be visiting during our upcoming road trip--Missouri, Arkansas, Tenneessee, and Kentucky--so Willow drew the Gateway Arch, a horse, and the Mississipi River (with sailboats, because she hasn't seen a real live riverboat yet, silly girl).

Now, the girls aren't actually required to do any of the activities that I'm about to show you, but I do know what they tend to like, so I'm guessing that Willow will do quite a bit of these, and that Sydney will do a few and goof around with a few more. Both binders are also identical, even though the girls are at different academic levels, because they still tend to get jealous when they see that a sister has something that they don't. So some of the stuff in the binder is too easy for Willow, and a lot of stuff in the binder is too hard for Sydney. Thankfully, Sydney doesn't get frustrated at Willow-level stuff, and Willow doesn't get bored by Sydney-level stuff--if they don't want to do something, they just don't.

Each binder has a US map from AAA and a ton of copy paper tucked into the front cover, a clipboard clipped to the inside cover, a notebook tucked into the back cover, and a mesh bag of supplies clipped onto a binder ring:
Of course, all this stuff will immediately get completely disorganized, but I plan to ask the girls to bring their binders in with us each night at our various motels, so I can neaten them then.

Each binder has a set of matboard stencils for all the states we'll be visiting; US map and flag coloring pages from Super Teacher Worksheets; state maps for each state from Megamaps; cut-and-fold three-dimensional animal pages for various animals we might see, such as thoroughbreds or Indiana bats--
--from Form Wild; coloring pages for horses and the Gateway Arch from the Dover Sampler series; and downloadable children's activity books for various places we'll visit, such as the Fort Smith National Historic Site, and places that we won't visit but that are still AWESOME!!!, such as...
The site has a terrific children's activity book which offers coloring pages for ALL of the state stuff. State gem? The diamond. State bird? The mockingbird. State fruit/vegetable? The vine ripe pink tomato. State rock? Bauxite. State cooking vessel? The dutch oven. And yes, I COULD go on.

More on Syd's level, the binder also includes a file folder game of sorting fruits and vegetables, from File Folder Fun, and a set of Betsy McCall paper dolls highlighting Betsy's trip down the Mississippi on a riverboat:
More on Will's level are some Spanish flashcards of words like horse, duck, grandma, and grandpa, from Boca Beth; and 20 or so mazes from KrazyDad--navigational skillz, you know.

Among the books that the girls have chosen for the trip are numerous children's books about Appalachia, other geographical locations we'll visit, tall tales, horse books, and a biography of Elvis (I can't resist!). Some of the DVDs include a children's Spanish documentary of St. Louis, more horse movies, more tall tales, etc. And some of the CDs are folk songs, Elvis hits, and audiobooks that take place in some of the places we'll visit, although audiobooks tend to be very hit or miss, love it or absolutely hate it, with the kiddos.

As for the traveling, I really do intend for it to be pretty low-key. My goal is to see at least one site that is meaningfully geographically or historically every place we visit, and to also do at least one super-fun kid thing. So in St. Louis I plan to take the girls to the St. Louis Science Center (Willow is really looking forward to the pirates exhibition), and also up in the Gateway Arch (this will be a first for me, too). In Fort Smith, where we'll spend a few days with my family, I plan to take them to the Fort Smith Museum of History (which has a real, honest-to-god working soda fountain), and there will also be lots of playgrounds, cousin and grandma time, cable television watching, candy eating, etc. While I'm in Ft. Smith I plan to plan where to go in Tennessee and still stay out from underfoot of the flood recovery efforts, but Willow is already talking about the Kentucky Horse Park, and thanks to the Wonderlab being an ASTC Passport participant, we get free admission to pretty much every hands-on museum in the country that we walk ourselves into, and we may walk ourselves into several on our trip.

But if all of THAT gets boring, don't worry--the girls will still have their other workbooks, and their other DVDS and CDs and picture books, and Hank the Cowdog and toy ponies aplenty, and computer games and indoor pools and stopping to pee and lots of snacks...

We are going to have an excellent time together.


Unknown said...

Have you taken them to the Janet Huckabee Nature Center?

julie said...

No, I haven't! I'll put it on the list. Chuck E. Cheez may also be on the list.

cake said...

your travel packets are so amazing! i WILL do something like this for cosmo on our next road trip. it is just awesome!