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Midwest Road Adventures and “Maps” – a round up of the month of July

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Most of our July was spent exploring the midwest. What better way to incorporate the theme “Maps” then getting out and living on one. Eight states in two weeks (that includes Tim’s whirlwind trip to North Carolina for the Wild Goose Festival)!
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While road tripping, we did several fun pages out of the Maps Activity book
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We weren’t able to stop a lot (seeing as we were in the car for too long already) but, we did make two really wonderful detours on our way to Lake Geneva, WI. Since we were going through two state capitals, we stopped at both the Nebraska State Capital building and the Iowa State Capital Building. And WOW were they wonderful. Why is “Visiting Every State Capital” not something everyone does?!? These two building were filled with incredible history, art, incredible architecture, and craftsmanship that you just don’t see that often in our ‘slap it together and sell it cheap’ culture we live in. We all felt like we were exploring old castles of old. And both the Iowa building and the Nebraska buildings were so different! Here are a few picture from both.
Nebraska First –

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Amazing Castle-like building, beautiful mosaics, and, best of all, an old wood paneled elevator that took you to the top of the tower to an open air walkway with panoramic views of the whole city.
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Some Zelda scenes “may” have been re-enacted in these stone passageways
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Tried to take a family “Selfie” here. Aw… so cute. And then you notice what Lucy does with her bubble gum….
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Some things you didn’t want to know… thanks a lot iPhones…

And Iowa’s Capital Building:

They sure knew what they were doing when they designed the gold domes….
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Looking up into the ceiling of the main dome. They took guided tours to the top, which we sadly didn’t do because we had to get back on the road, but next time!
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A security guard at the entrance told us to be sure not to miss the Library as it was his favorite room. And boy was he not kidding. It was like stepping into Harry Potter land.

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As part of our midwest road trip, we stayed in KS for a few days at my parents farm. They live on 180 acres of wild prairie and orchards. My dad mows these lovely ever-shifting paths through the prairie that have become one of the things we look forward to most when visiting home.Kansas Prairie - Photo by Giants & Pilgrims

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Onto modes of transportation! Also while in KS, the girls had their first encounter with bumper cars (hover crafts more like…) and can’t wait for more…

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Picnics are always a good idea.
A picnic in the park with Grandma DiDi at Dillon Nature Center - Photo by Giants and Pilgrims

As are hotel swimming pools.

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Once we got back home, we mostly have been playing catch-up – especially with all the art shows and whatnot we have had going on. But here are a few highlights from the end of July.
This is one of the books we picked up from the library on maps. It is called “The Once Upon a Time Map Book” – you can get it here.  I can’t recommend it enough. My kids LOVED it. And it teaches so many cool map reading skills – directions, scale, keys, distance, etc. The book gives you a quest of sorts and then have to follow the directions to get through the map, while looking for hidden treasures. So fun.
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We definitely drew a treasure map of our backyard and hid treasure. Burning the edges and tea staining it is half the fun.

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Some afternoons when mom is trying, ahem, to get ready for an art show she is not ready for yet, you google “kids map games” and let em loose.

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The church we are part of, called Atlas, does this amazing kids camp where they make a movie. The kids do almost everything – the acting, costumes, songs, etc. One of the days was all about outer space. Each kid was assigned a role as either a planet, the sun, moon, stars, etc. They physically acted out our solar system as part of our movie. It was so cool. I didn’t get any photos of the kids, but here are a bunch of the parent volunteers pricking holes in a black paper wall that was lit from behind to make constellation star maps. The twinkly black wall was the backdrop in the film for the little kid moons and planets swirling around.

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We hung a nice big world map at kid level on the wall and have been having lots of fun conversations about where things like panda bears and cousins live.
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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

Midnight Matins Playlist

 Several years ago I had to work on Christmas Eve, which is a common hangup when in ministry. But Betony and I still wanted to be home on Christmas, celebrating with her family. So we devised a plan to make the long late night drive awesome.

We began the 8 hour car ride at 9 that night. We packed some intentional surprises, like opening our stockings and favorite car-trip snacks. But the most memorable thing we did was celebrate Midnight Matins.

My best friends growing up were Catholic and they would go to their church service at the stroke of 12 AM. I always felt there was something intriguing about trudging through the cold as the clock struck with full-tolls for a late worship experience.

So Betony and I had our own Midnight Matins. When the digital car-clock hit 12 we played a CD of 10 songs. These songs corresponded with readings of scripture Betony would say aloud and she had pictures of ancient artwork she’d printed that embodied the different parts of the nativity story.

Here is our playlist of the Midnight Matins. As you can see we sometimes got creative with it. We hope it brings mystery and depth to your season as it still does for us.

Midnight Matins Playlist

Once in Royal David’s City • Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

Hark, The Herald Angels Sing  • Vince Guaraldi Trio

Messiah, oratorio: For Unto Us a Child is Born  •  The London Philharmonic Orchestra
Peace on Earth  • Disney Studio Chorus & Donald Novis
Mary  • Patty Griffin
Dickens’ Dublin  • Loreena McKennitt
Lo! How a Rose E’re Blooming  • Linda Ronstadt

Ding Dong! Merrily on High • Chanticleer
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing  • Choir of King’s College, Cambridge
We Three Kings  • Sufjan Stevens
Magnificat • Mary Behan Miller

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