We just got back from Myrtle Beach, SC. Almost a week spent at the beach does the body and mind wonders. Here is an opportunity to transform any vacation into a learning experience or field trip: just have a Socratic conversation about what they see and hear.
On the way there (a 7-hour trip by car), we stopped at a Cracker Barrel for lunch. In the parking lot, our daughter spotted something different in a palm tree. “What’s that?” she asked about these green berries hanging in clusters underneath the usual palm fronds. “We don’t know, but let’s look it up.” I took pictures and my iNaturalist app said it was a palm tree. Thanks a lot. So I Googled “berries on palm trees” and found out things we did not know.
There are 12 types of palm trees: some produce coconuts, some produce dates, and others produce berries. A palm tree is not a tree. Also, coconuts are not fruits, they are drupes (like peaches, apricots, plums, cherries, and dates). If you have never heard of drupes, look that up. Another name is “stone fruit.”
And just like that we had a botany lesson. Then, we saw several shore birds and we could not decide if one was a plover or a sandpiper. We analyzed several pictures online to make sure we have identified the correct bird, comparing those pictures to our pictures. We also spotted cranes, seagulls, crows, whippoorwills, and pigeons. There you go: zoology or ornithology.
Beach Unit Study
In the car, I asked them if they remembered the capital cities of the three states we were traveling through: Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina. We have not studied a whole lot of geography in our homeschool and I plan on having lots of geography next school year.
We also talked about nautical flags used for signaling from ships, as there were some such symbols on the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach. Different architecture sparked a conversation about hurricane insurance and storm windows.
There were planes flying over the beach: some advertising an all you can eat buffet and other things, but there was also a military plane. We talked about the Coast Guard and the different parts of the armed forces.
You get the idea. Everything you do has the potential to turn into a lesson in history, geography, science, language, architecture, economy, you name it. Keep it light, so the kids don’t feel like they are being lectured to on their vacation. Make sure they have fun with it and learn together.