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Pools, Parades, and Picnics – July’s Adventures in Homeschooling

This year we began homeschooling Lucy (8), Hattie (5), Beatrice (2), and Arlo (8 months). We’re including this on our Giants & Pilgrims blog as all our family adventures seem to impact our art & music so much! Also, we just like sharing the stories. So we’ll be sharing posts on the themes we’ve been covering each month and calling the adventure “ABACUS”! Our hope is that these posts will help spark creative direction and inspiration for your family as well as giving us somewhere to be document and record our experiences.

During July, we don’t do any structured homeschooling, but we did still have some wonderful adventures as a family. Here is a little photo journal of our month.

4th of July:

We kicked off July with a bang – enjoying backyard BBQing, fireworks with friends, a fantastic parade, and some adorable vintage outfits on Arlo (that were Tim and his brothers when they were babes).

Artsy Fun:

Inspired by Dogman, Lucy started drawing her own series of comics (it’s called Robot Rambush and Robot Hoverton)

A dress sewn by Lucy for Beatrice (with zero help from mama)

A pretty cool art invention discovered by Lucy –

And I started up my residency at the Denver Children’s Museum!

We also sewed this sweet little quiet book page all together in anticipation of our big camping trip.

Camping

This month we took our first family camping trip. We went up the Poudre Canyon to Roosevelt National Forest and camped at a beautiful lake there. I wouldn’t say it was as idyllic as these pictures make it look ha ha (kid throwing up from the winding roads, miserable heat in the afternoon, whining children, and bugs all put a damper on the idyllic). But we did it, and it had some really beautiful moments.

Skipping rocks.

Arlo was a camping champion.

Reading Harry Potter out loud around the breakfast morning campfire.

 

Enjoying the Outdoors:

A picnic at our favorite Homestead Park

Enjoying their favorite Willow tree in the evening

A not-done-in-time-dinner from mama lead to a lovely restaurant put together by Lucy and Harriet at the “Flower Cafe” outside on the patio.

And a favorite summer tradition around here – UNC’s Concerts Under the Stars series – with the Greeley Philharmonic. Umbrellas are open here, but it only sprinkled for a few minutes and then cleared up for a lovely evening.

Reading:

This month we read –

Clementine by Sara Pennypacker (how have I never read these before!?) and the new illustrated Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

The girls also worked super hard to complete their entire Summer Reading Program at our local library.

Poolside:

Summertime at its best.

And a session of swim lessons for all three girls.

Theater Camp:

Thanks to a little help from Great Grandma Goose, Harriet and Lucy got to take part in a local theater camp. In one week they put on an entire production of Snow White! The girls each had real parts and even had to memorize lines! Lucy was one of the narrators (Red), and Harriet was one of the seven dwarves (Wallflower).

Bike Fundraiser:

As a family we all helped put on a really cool fundraiser event called the Greeley Wheelie for Turn Around Bikes – a local non-profit that takes donated bikes, refurbishes them, and donates them to kids in need.

 

 

Big 33 List

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Every year for my birthday I have this funny little tradition of making a “Big ___ List” (insert number of years old). Each year, I make a bucketlist of goals/activities to try for the following year. There is one list item for each year old I turn.

(By the way, the Garden Arch picture is up there because it was an item on my Big 32 List!)

BIG 33 List:

  1. Get a Hammock
  2. Plant a fruit tree
  3. Read a Classic (I always put this one on the list, but I need a suggestion)
  4. Have a baby boy/4th Child (pretty inevitable this November… 🙂
  5. Make homemade croissants
  6. Go Camping with the whole family
  7. Have a “no spending month”
  8. Get awesomely fit after pregnancy
  9. Go see a musical in Denver
  10. See another cirque du soleil show
  11. Visit a new place
  12. Finish the Bellwether series
  13. Create/design a “sacred space”
  14. Go to the KS State Fair
  15. Finish the dining room redo
  16. Have a great solid first year of homeschooling
  17. Keep moving towards “Clearing” and minimalism in our house
  18. Complete the UNC tree walk and learn some new tree names
  19. Do the Nature Pal Exchange with the kids
  20. Finish my braided rug
  21. Finish my sunshine quilt (I hate to admit but this has been on at least 4 years of lists)
  22. Always make a double batch when cooking
  23. Be a better friend when it comes to birthdays/gifts
  24. Get something published in Uppercase Magazine
  25. Stop texting and looking at my phone while driving
  26. Redo my kitchen countertops
  27. Keep in monthly blog log of our homeschooling adventures
  28. Learn how to wire a light.
  29. Drive the Poudre Canyon road during the peak of fall colors.
  30. Eat at Acorn in Denver (or….. other suggestions?)
  31. Eat more vegetables/Get my kids to eat more vegetables
  32. Apply for an artist in residence program
  33. Don’t cut my hair so I can actually grow it out

December Ideas and Activities around the Theme “Advent”

For this entire year (I can’t believe it is the last month of the year already!) I’ve been doing an at home curriculum with the family (Lucy 6, Hattie 4, Beatrice 1). Tim and I call the project “Abacus” and we’re sharing it each month for the fun, challenge, and community of it. Each month we choose a theme and then come up with a bunch of activities around that theme. Read all about how to use this list and our heart behind this project here.
Explore past months themes here.

Our theme this month is “Advent.” To me December is a month of anticipation. Our family is OBSESSED with advent calendars. We literally have 5 that we will do every day this month. For me it is a way of slowing down and fully enjoying these favorite of days. I am going to share some of my favorite advent traditions here, as well as our own little “activity” advent of 25 perfect December activities – one for each day until Christmas.

DECEMBER Dates to Take Note of:

December 6-12 – Hanukkah
December 13th – The Feast of Santa Lucia – we are hoping to take a trip up to Georgetown to partake in their annual European Christmas Market –
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December 22nd – Winter Solstice – I love the tradition of making a small bonfire outside on this day.
December 24th – Christmas Eve (Also my grandmother’s Birthday!) (for us, it is Christmas eve services, followed by takeout, leaving cookies for Santa, and opening a package that is always pajamas)
December 25th – Christmas Day – (for us it looks like – photos on the stairs before coming down, sausage souffle and cinnamon rolls, opening stockings and presents as slowly as possible, playing all day, a family walk in the cold, and grilling outside)
December 26th – Boxing Day

Local: Greeley, CO events:

December 5th – Teddy Bear Bash at the Festival of Trees – 9-11am
December 5th – Handmade for the Holidays 10-3 at the Kress Cinema
December 11-13th – The Nutcracker at UCCC
December 11-13th – Twas the Night before Christmas performed by the Stampede Theater Troupe

Let me know if you have other fun Greeley events I should add to this calendar!

 

The Coon’s Family 2015 ADVENT CALENDARS:

You might laugh at this one. But our family LOVES Jacquie Lawson’s advent calendar she releases each year. It shows up as a Snow Globe on your desktop and each day another little animated short or activity is released. It borders on overly “thomas-kinkade” sappy, but at the same time it is SO great. We all unabashedly love it. This year the theme is Victorian Christmas.
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If you haven’t yet discovered Sparkle Stories, I am so happy to get to be the one to introduce you.  The stories are very simple but sweet original audio stories for kids. They have a specific Advent calendar as part of their Martin & Sylvia Series. Each day showcases a very simple holiday activity. They released the advent calendar in 2014, but it is still great. We listened to it last year and are excited to relive it again this year.
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Partly thanks to having a brother who manages a Lego store, we can’t miss out on the Lego Advent calendars. This year we opted for their Star Wars edition (in anticipation of the new movie). Each day you get a tiny set of legos to build.
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Tim loves playing the Angry Birds seasons (which unlocks one new level each day)
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We are participateing in our church community Atlas’s Random Acts of Christmas Kindness list12314495_10153078112937470_3401969149545698084_o

25 ADVENT Activities:

These don’t have to be done in any particular order, but this is our list of 25 “Christmasy” activities that don’t require much extra money or time, but are what this month is all about for us.

  1. Make Gingerbread Cookies/houses (my sister just recommended this recipe)
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  2. Cut Paper Snowflakessnowflakes 4
  3. Visit a Christmas Tree Farm to pick our tree

  4. Take our time decorating the Christmas tree and tell stories and memories
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  5. String popcorn and cranberries
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  6. Bake Christmas cookies for the neighbors – Here are some recipes to get you started.
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  7. Drive around and look at Christmas lights (especially the Greeley Grizwalds)
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  8. Go caroling
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  9. Eat dinner by candlelight

  10. Go Ice Skating (The Greeley Ice Haus or the Ice skating rink at Centerra are good choices if you are local)
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  11. Go on an icy walk and then have hot chocolate with marshmallows
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  12. Make snow angels
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  13. In Hutchinson, where Tim and I grew up, they have an INCREDIBLE night of illuminaries in the Hyde Park neighborhood the Saturday before Christmas. Blocks and blocks are illuminated. They don’t allow traffic through and instead have hay rides of carolers and horse drawn carriages. I would love to have our own tiny version one night.
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  14. Write and send Christmas cards (just wait until you see the adorable family photo I have…)
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  15. Go sledding – just need a little more snow first!!
  16. Get matching pajamas for our whole family. Shhh… don’t tell Tim…and have a family game nightmatching-family-pajamas
  17. Eat a candy cane – I have heard that the Hammond Candy factory tour in Denver is pretty cool
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  18. Make a wreath (isn’t this gold feather and leaf one pretty?)
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  19. Read all the Christmas stories out loud – We love: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Max’s Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Polar Express, and so many more…
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  20. Go to the Nutcracker (or at least listen to it)
  21. Write letters to Santa and deliver to the Currier Inn Reindeer Route mailbox.
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  22. Lucy really wants to have a Christmas scavenger hunt. I am not sure what that means, but I’m working on it.
  23. Keep the bird feeders filled and chart the visitors
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  24. Have a Christmas movie watching and present wrapping party
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  25. Watch Charlie Brown Christmas and Ice Skating – the two shows we would always watch on Christmas day at my grandparent’s house.
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October Ideas and Activities around the Theme “Lore”

For this entire year I’ve been doing an at home curriculum with the family (Lucy 6, Hattie 4, Beatrice 1). Tim and I call the project “Abacus” and we’re sharing it each month for the fun, challenge, and community of it. Each month we choose a theme and then come up with a bunch of activities around that theme. Read all about how to use this list and our heart behind this project here.
Explore past months themes here.

Mostly for the month of October, I just want to soak it in. October is my favorite month and it always just seems to fly by. I love the way the air feels, the way it smells, all the tastes, the colors. Everything. And, I am pretty married to our traditions. I just want to do October-y things in October. So, bear with me on this theme, because it is pretty loose. Normally I would insist on something a little more narrowed down, but I love that most of the things we would want to explore anyway in October fit within “Lore” and it adds some depth to our stories we would already be telling.

October Dates to Take Note of:

October 1st – International Coffee Day (very important…we make a point to celebrate this everyday at about 7:00am)
October 24th – United Nations Day
October 31st – Halloween
And don’t forget that November 1st is All Saints Day/November 1 & 2nd = Day of the Dead

Local: Greeley, CO events:

Oktobrewfest – October 2nd-3rd (sorry if you missed this!)

I don’t have any other events for October, someone help me out. What goes here?

List of Ideas and Inspiration for LORE:

MYTHOLOGY/ANTHROPOLOGY (is that what this category is…?):

Make a wall/chart of Witches, goblins, pumpkins, fairies, ghosts, ghouls, vampires, changelings, silkies, chupacabras, etc and learn some of the folklore behind where they come from.

 Learn about ancient Egypt and Make mummies – wasting a roll of TP and playing a mummy game would be fun too.
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Spend a day learning about Day of the Dead and doing day of the Dead activities –

Common Practices for Day of the Dead Day of the Dead is annually celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. The first day, called “Día de los Angelitos” (Day of the little angels), is dedicated to the souls of deceased children, while November 2nd is set aside for the souls of adults. Before these days, families may clean their homes to prepare for the arrival of the souls of their loved ones. Many also visit cemeteries to decorate the graves of the dead with their favorite items and flowers. Graves and ofrendas are decorated with papel picado, photographs, cherished objects, marigolds (cempasúchitl), and skeletons made of paper or clay. Food and drink are placed on the ofrendas for the dead. It is believed the dead enjoy the tastes and smells of the food. There are many important foods associated with Day of the Dead. In particular the main dish is mole, which is meat (usually chicken or pork) cooked with a sauce made from chilies, chocolate, peanuts, and other ingredients that vary by region. Pumpkin candies, rice pudding, and tamales may also be offered. Bakeries produce special bread called pan de muerto in the shape of people or bones and decorated with pink sugar. Stores also sell skulls made of sugar or chocolate, adorned with names, for children and adults to eat.

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These look neat to make too – (I can’t find the original source for this image, but I think these just use those precut scrapbooking paper wrapped around a candle holder)
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Learn about Greek Myths
I especially like this book – 
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Create our own little Apple Holiday, complete with new traditions

FILMS:

We don’t do Scary movies around here (seriously don’t get that at all…) But, we do love halloween shows –

Pirates of the Caribbean (since Lucy wants to be a Pirate for halloween)
Big Fish
Nightmare Before Christmas
Adams Family Values
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The Ghost and Mister Chicken
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Old Nic at Night Shows:
Sabrina the Witch
Laurel and Hardy
Adams Family
Little Rascals Spooky Hooky
little-rascals
Bewitched
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There is nothing better than watching old black and white spooky films with popcorn, fancy root beer, and or hot cider. So October to me…
(By the way, we just discovered that Tiny but Mighty Popcorn and it is wonderful! A new favorite…)
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LISTEN:

Lore podcast (Grown-ups Only)
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Listen to all our Halloween mixes!


READ:

Read all the Stephen Kellogg versions of American Folklore books: Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, Mike Fink, Johnny Appleseed, Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett
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Read the Littlest witch by Anna Elizabeth Bennet – one of my favorites as a kid, I am excited to revisit it with my own kiddos.
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Read Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth by E.L. Konigsburg – If I remember correctly, some awesome halloween scenes in this one.
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Read some Edgar Allen Poe
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Find a good kid version of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow
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PLAY:

The Telephone game (the connection is about how folk lore is passed on through generations)
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Visit a pumpkin patch (We always go to the Rocky Mountain Pumpkin Ranch)
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ART:

Make Shadow puppets – or just get some from one of the many wonderful Etsy shops

Carve Pumpkins and make Turnip lanterns (the original jack-o-lantern!)
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Sew Halloween costumes but also learn about the characters they are portraying (right now Lucy wants to be a pirate and Harriet a Princess, not sure about Beatrice…)

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SCIENCE:

Save old spice bottles and make pretend Potions
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Also make homemade Soda potions

“Collection” Theme Round Up (from Abacus: our creative home curriculum!)

The end of June was spent on the road on the way to Wisconsin, so I missed getting this round up of our June “Collection” theme posted. Still lots of good memories here with hopefully some ideas you can carry over to your own stories.

Click here to see the original June post with the complete list of Collection ideas (which is where these came from)

Outside:

On our road trip through Nebraska and Iowa, every time we stopped for gas, the girls and I collected wildflowers from the side of the road and pressed them in a little flower press I brought with us. We forgot to bring a flower book, so most remained un-identified, but it was a lovely way to make a boring stop more fun.

Giants & Pilgrims pressed flowers for "Collection" themed activities

Thanks to our dear friend Lindsay, we had our second annual “Sleep in the backyard” night. It was made extra beautiful by the singing campfire songs out of a book collection of classic song lyrics.
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I used some old letterpress trays I had laying around to make our “Collection” themed wall. My plan was to fill up the wall with all sorts of found treasures over the course of the month, it still has a lot of empty spots, but it has been the perfect place to stash tiny treasures. I think I will keep it up for a bit longer. I’m enjoying having somewhere to put those tiniest of tidbits.

Its hard to see from the photo, but we found several insect skeletons, lots of cool rocks, little figurines, an old brass button, a key, a more. You can also see the beginning of my silhouettes collection.IMG_6221

History:

We visited the Build Frontiers exhibit at the Greeley History Museum where the girls and Tim had a great afternoon playing with legos. The best two take aways from the day were these cool passports that the city of Greeley History museum is doing, and also a great lego app called Lego Movie that is pretty great.
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(Rattlesnake Kate is a Greeley history celebrity – seen here immortalized as a lego mini figure)

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Art:

In celebration of Flag day, Lucy designed this flag – hopefully we can sew a version of it and hang it on the treehouse. (The page came out of this Maps companion book)

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We spent a whole lot of time this month working on all sorts of tiny drawings – all of which are getting compiled into our first ever wall calendar called “Collection”! I will have the calendars up for sale on this site soon! I picked up the proofs this week and they look pretty great if I do say so myself. It helps that there are some fabulous illustrations done by these two cuties.
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Giants & Pilgrims Collection theme

We had a tea party with using my teacup collection for Lucy’s 6 year old woodland fairy party. Here are some photos from the magic filled afternoon:
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Giants & Pilgrims woodland fairy birthday party

Giants & Pilgrims woodland fairy birthday party

And in the spirit of fairies, we had several fun days using bits and pieces to make fairy houses.

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Giants & Pilgrims - making fairy houses

Movies:

Not a good movie at all, ha, but we did watch “National Treasure” for it’s contribution to the “Collection” theme 🙂 I suppose my 6 year old now does know what the Declaration of Independence is (sort of…)

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Books:

For reading, we started “The Borrowers” and immediately realized it was still a bit old for the girls. Besides that, we have just particularly enjoyed working on our summer library program sheets and picking up lots of good stories from our local library.

We did check out and read a lot of Jan Brett books and then went to her show in Fort Collins at the Contemporary Art Museum. So neat to see her work in person! Her attention to detail is pretty insane. You cannot help but admire her work.

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Giants & Pilgrims visit Jan BRett

Home:

And finally, in the spirit of “Collection”, we got rid of some of our own collections by having a garage sale 🙂

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After clearing out my old frustrating dresser and a chair, our bedroom got a little refresh with this awesome vintage filing cabinet.IMG_5181

 

That’s all for June and “Collection.” On to “Maps” for the month of July!

July Ideas and Activities Around the Theme “Maps”

With kids’ school schedules, university classes being over, and activities like dance classes taking a break, July is and always will be the ultimate road trip month. Our theme for our home curriculum this month is “MAPS” – think places to go, atlases, globes, searching for treasure, and charts of imaginary lands. With 4th of July celebrations and their historical roots, what better time to explore this vast and rich country we live in? It is about putting on our explorer caps, blaring some road trip tunes, and charting out adventure.

Read all about how to use this list and our heart behind this project here.

Below is our comprehensive MAPS activities list. Choose a couple to do with your kids to enrich the month or try to accomplish the whole list! What would you add? I would love to hear your ideas and plans for the month.

July Dates to Take Note of:

July 4th – Independence Day

Local Greeley, CO events:

Concert under the Stars – July 8th at the UNCO Garden Theater

Neighborhood Nights in July (Movies/picnics at city parks in greeley) – Muppets Most Wanted, Big Hero 6, The Lego Movie

Greeley Arts Picnic – July 25 and 26

Taste of Windsor – July 16

 

HISTORY:

Tell the stories of Independence day on the 4th of July and of course enjoy fireworks

We will be heading on a family music/art tour to Wisconsin. On our way, we plan on visiting the Nebraska and Iowa state capitals – hoping to make this a family tradition as we visit new states. Is there a state capitol somewhere near that you could visit? Or at least talk about what state capitols are.

Learn about some of the great explorers – Magellan, Columbus, Lewis & Clark, etc.

Maybe this book would be a fun way to learn about these explorers?

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Also want to check out this one (its illustrations alone look incredible)
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Look at trains and modes of transportation (hot air balloons anyone?)
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Along with that, learn how to play Ticket to Ride, which I have heard is a great game.
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ART:

Do straw paintings of fireworks
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Paint a treasure map (Image from here) – I particularly like using parchment paper and burning the edges. Just makes it even more, you know, pirate-y. A link to a map we made a couple years ago: Here .
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Create a 3D map of our neighborhood like this sweet milk box one.

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Try making something like this great wall hanging interactive map from The Handmade Home

MUSIC:

Listen to our Road Trip playlist

Listen to our Stars and Stripes playlist

Sufjian stevens – Michigan and Illinois
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John Phillips Sousa

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Make a States playlist? What songs could you use for each of the 50 states?!

MOVIES:

Goonies, Pirates of the Caribbean, Cars (Route 66), Around the World in 80 Days
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READ:

Treasure Island – Robert Louise Stevenson
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SCIENCE:

Look at constellation maps (there is a great printable one here

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and make pin poke constellation maps

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Learn about Planets and maps of our solar system – maybe make a model
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Make maps of the human body

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PLAY:

 and go on an imaginary expedition

Play the old zelda – with map
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IN THE CAR:

Follow routes on a road atlas

Play the license plate game – or some of these other great car games

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Learn about distances

GEOGRAPHY:

Spend a lot of time looking at the Maps book by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Activity companion – it is really beautifully done.
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Do the State Map Puzzle we picked up at the Habitat Store (kind of like this one)

Also, cut up an old atlas and make these out of some of those freebie rectangle magnets you get from real estate agents…
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Play with Compasses and Map Keys
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Learn our state flower, bird, reptile, etc.

Look at elevation maps

Road Trip Games

For those of you road-tripping this summer here’s some game suggestions for the car! Several are listed here. Comment below if you’ve got some more.

The first one below comes from a night Betony and I were at a restaurant and our waiter gave us this game. It was really fun to try to figure them all out.

Three-Letter Body

Name 10 Common Body Parts that are three letters long:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

The iPod Shuffle

The modern person’s “Name that Tune”. Put your iPod on shuffle and see who can guess the song fastest. Take turns using different iPods to avoid advantages.

Daring Hang Man

Smashing two favorites into one

game. Whoever loses the hangman

round must take a “truth or dare”

from the car!

Memorize a Poem or Rap

To pass the time in a car ride my wife would choose a rap song and memorize the whole thing. When we first met she had several charts she could perform. It was one of the many things that won me over about her.

Choose a rap song or a poem and repeat it over and over (perhaps put it on repeat?)

License Plate Decoder

Pretend that every license plate is a personalized message and decode it. “HDR 732″ might stand for “Hairdresser Diva Roller-derby, 7 days a week, 32 hours a day.”

Road Trip Game: Banana

Look around until you find a yellow colored vehicle. Shout “BANANA!” when you notice a one. If you don’t, it does not count, and someone else can call it. Whomever gets the most points is declared the “Top Banana”.

Other Road Trip Games: 

Twenty Q’s

I Spy

Riddles

I’m Going on a Picnic and…

Alphabet Game (can be played with signs, animals, cars, etc.)

License Plate Game (try to find all 50 states)

Telling your favorite jokes

Crosswords

The Quiet Game

Pick a letter and a topic: what songs, movies, other things come up?

The Cow Counting Game (and you lose your cows if you go by a graveyard…)

Truth or Truther: Like Truth or Dare except you are opening up for REALLY personal questions. Good to play late into the night with close friends willing to become closer.

Road Trip Game: Squares on Dots

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Each person gets to draw one line, dot to dot (only vertical or horizontal) at a time. When your line completes a square put your initial inside it (and you get to go again!) The person with the most squares wins.