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Place-based learning: California

Homeschooling is much easier than people realize and it can be done anywhere you are! We prefer to call ourselves "world schoolers" as we have never really stayed at home for school, but we prefer to travel and learn outside the home. This summer we're in California and even though it's summer I believe learning never stops!


When I find out we're going on a trip or relocating, even if temporarily, I first start by listing the following: geography, geology, history, people, places, events, landmarks, climate, oddities, art, architecture, literature and culture. This becomes my "map" for our learning. Then, I research (and brainstorm) things for each of those areas and plan activities, literature, field trips, and projects from there.



For California, I jotted down: early settlers, Pony Express, state facts, Gold Rush, railroad, Spanish settlements, Mexican influence (then and now), marine life, botany, Silicon Valley and Old Hollywood and then I started researching field trips, books and projects to compliment their learning. I was mindblown with what I found!


We'll be learning about the history of the railroad through The Iron Dragon Never Sleeps and visiting the RR Museum at Balboa Park when we finish the book. I've also learned there's a railroad at Irvine Park, but it appears a bit geared towards little ones and it's quite a distance from where we're located. We're also adding important people and dates to the Charlotte Mason timeline I purchased last month and will continue to add to this throughout our homeschooling journey!


A summer in California is not complete without a road trip to Hollywood! We'll be watching old movies, learning the history of old Hollywood, the stars, the Rat Pack, the various production studios, how films are made, the professions associated with movie making, and of course we'll be taking all the studio tours we can. In fact, we'll even be learning about how Hollywood once treated stars of color, child actors, and discover how much has changed and why.


I was thrilled to find this book filled with facts about California's wildlife, climate, and plant life! We choose a few pages to read each day and then play "I Spy" in the car, botanical gardens, zoo, and hikes together.


And, given that we just arrived from Montana, my kids don't know much about marine wildlife so I'm planning an entire week on wildlife, underwater plants, wetlands, coastal birds and water sports. Perhaps we'll visit the maritime museum, kayak through the caves at La Jolla, visit the aquarium, and talk about why we're NOT going to Sea World, LOL.


Everyone ALWAYS asks, "But, what about math?" when I tell them we homeschool now. Math is probably one of the easiest areas for us. We use Singapore Math during the school year, Summer Bridge math each summer for the year ahead, online videos to introduce new concepts, and I let them play Prodigy or Adventure Academy on rainy days.


Check me out on Pinterest Epoch: Chelsea Vail. I usually put together a board for each month throughout the year or various units of study I plan on offering my boys based on their interests (which are constantly evolving) and where we are in the world. And mom, whatever you do...do NOT get stuck in the pen-to-paper education model. Get out and explore!! Learning occurs by doing.


Be well, Chelsea

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