My goal as their fearful leader (I know, it should say “fearless” but I’m just not there yet, clearly) was to incoporate more “out of the box” education to our routine this year. One of the greatest benefits of this method of schooling children is that we can take school anywhere we want. Last year, we spent many a morning snuggled by a fire on the couch reading, dreaded math worksheets were always done better on our deck if the weather was warm, and we took our fair share of field trips to various live theater performances regionally. Heck, we even went to Ethiopia for a field trip this summer!
The quote on my daily calendar this morning was particularly inspiring, “Learning is weightless, a treasure you can always easily carry.” So when the weather predicted a beautiful, dry, warmish but not hot day, I knew we needed to head for the hills. We’re studying Earth Science this year so what better way to study the various cloud formations and measure the wind speed and direction than perched on a bald at 6200 feet? Black Balsam in the Shining Rock Wilderness is one of those mountains that makes you feel that if you jump really high, you’ll land smack dab in the middle of a cloud. And lucky us, today the clouds were so low that we did indeed dance in their foggy mist.
When we reached the summit, Lou started jumping up and down saying, “It’s so, so, so, so, so, so pretty!!” as she looked out over the horizon at the nearby mountains. They wanted to hike further than we had originally anticipated, “just because.” We talked about how these particular mountains became “bald.” We read a great book on hurricanes during our “pack off” break. We identified wildflowers and trees. We talked about my dream of thru hiking the Appalachian Trail (they told me they wanted to do it with me). We talked about pushing through mental and physical barriers when you think you can’t go any further (they got a little tired towards the end of the hike). The best educational experiences almost always seem to happen outside the classroom. It was one of those rare days when I knew I did right by my kids as a mom and a teacher in every single way. For once, I actually did feel like that “fearless leader” I’m supposed to be.
|Always the clown|
|Lunch on top of Black Balsam|
|Dancing in the clouds|
|You know Lou is happy when she smiles this big!|
|They called this “the bushy trail”|
|Yep, he was safe right here|
|They were so excited close to the top that they started running!|
|My happy hikers|