Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mission: Homeschool

There are as many ways to homeschool as there are homeschoolers. The flexibility that is possible is just one of the many reasons that this style of learning fits our family so well.

In California, 4th graders study California History. That means missions, ranchos, and the gold rush. Oh, and did I mention missions?

We started our study of our state's history last year
, when Jelly was in 6th grade and Doodle was the official 4th grader. Because we split our Social Studies time by also finishing a study of World History, we decided to give California History a little more time this year. It fits perfectly this way because at Wonderwood Academy, the explorers have now found the New World, and the colonists have arrived on the East coast. So we're learning about what happened with the Spanish padres and the Native Americans on the West coast while the settlers were working things out with the Eastern Woodland "Indians" in Jamestown.

Last week our learning adventures took form as one of our extended field trips, and managed to combine it with some great family visits. We learned a lot, had a great time, and made some wonderful memories.

Since we covered the missions to the south of us last year, it was time to go north. Saving the two closest to us, because we can do those in a couple of day trips sometime when we need a spur-of-the-moment get-away, we left Friday after work and drove up the coast to Lompoc.

No offense to Lompoc, but there isn't much there. Well, there's a federal prison, an air force base, and a mission. Our visit was confined, pun intended, not to jail or base, but to pursuits historical.

We got to our hotel in time for the girls to enjoy the pool.

After a breakfast that would have been more satisfactory had I been able to enjoy it WITH my family, rather than at the bottom of the stairs above which the breakfast room was located (NO elevator, thus no access), we trekked out to the La Purisima Mission State Historic Park. Our visit was timed to coincide with very infrequently held "Village Days." In retrospect, it was the girls' favorite of the trip. Location allows it to feel more like it probably felt during the mission era than the other missions we've visited so far. AND, Village Days are highly interactive. MUCH to see and do... with DO being the keyword. The girls carved soapstone charms, wove baskets, made reed ducks, tried their hand at a Chumash game, decorated toy bull roarers with pictograms, created palm frond brooms, chatted with costumed docents and authentic mountain men, and explored top to bottom. It was a blast! See for yourself.

It sprinkled, almost, as we were on our way to Buellton, CA, home of the famous Andersen's Restaurant. It poured buckets while we sipped split pea soup, gazing out through a beautiful picture window onto a rain-washed garden. When we were ready to leave, the downpour slowed to a drizzle and then was over.

Perfect timing. There was a wedding going on at Mission Santa Ines, so we enjoyed the gardens before going inside the mission church.

I have no picture evidence, but our next stop was Goleta Beach. The girls enjoyed their customary pier walk with Papa, and then we enjoyed his and his wife's hospitality for the night. The girls were introduced to the story of "Brigadoon" and it made us wish even more that we'd been able to see goddaughter SwimChick, who lives in Vancouver, WA, in a recent youth production of the musical.

More traditions kept as the girls picked fresh citrus the next morning before we said our so longs. We like to take oranges and lemons from Papa and Dorothy with us to the cousins, who are usually our next stop.

We couldn't leave Santa Barbara, though, before a visit to the Queen of the Missions.
It was exciting to learn that the lone woman of San Nicolas island, on whose life the book Island of the Blue Dolphin is based, is actually buried in the cemetery of the Santa Barbara Mission. We are currently listening to/reading, and very much enjoying her story as part of A New World of Adventures unit study curriculum.

Our last night, but NOT our last evening, was spent with the aforementioned cousins. We had a great visit, and since the twins weren't starting school until Tuesday, we extended our visit time by taking them with us to our final mission of this trip.

I can't believe it, but again I have no pictorial evidence for this part of the trip. We did, though, thoroughly enjoy visiting with the twins' family, including a loving mama, a big brother who introduced Jelly to the awesome world of rpgs, a big sister who has since started her first term at UC Berkeley, and a new baby brother, adorable but with one of those sensitive level sensors that activate fussing unless he's being held by someone completely vertical, slightly bouncing, and who is preferably serenading him softly so that he knows he has their complete attention. Their daddy, unfortunately, we did not get to visit with, as he was on the road. One of our tradtions here is to exchange hand-me-downs. It's a wonderful system. Oh, for the record, the lemonade and orange juice, freshly squeezed by the kids, was delicious, as always.

Before heading home, we spent our last evening of this mini mission trip visiting with family on the Woody side. I think the girls were suprised at how much fun they had with just boy cousins. LOL The kids were having the kind of fun that moves too fast to be caught on film. I believe it involved an uncle and the kind of fear that induces laughing so hard you almost can't breathe.

Our mission for this mini mission trip was a complete success.

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At Fri Sep 11, 08:53:00 PM PDT, Blogger Jacquie said...

Sounds like a fun trip Cindy, I haved loved a "mission" trip like that before. Thanks for helping me remember!


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