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Vacation homework
posted by John : February 28 - March 8, 2014

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Mid-winter break in our school district was February 17 through 21. The kids stayed up late, ran wild, and generally slacked. That's what break is for. Then they were back to school for four days before heading south. They missed six days of class, but that doesn't mean they weren't learning.

The downside of having a teacher for a mother and a wanna-be scientist as a father is there's always learning to be done.

In addition to the lessons and assignments the kids were missing at school, they had vacation homework. First and foremost was their vacation journal.

Each of the three had a bound journal with 20 pages of daily activities as well as extra credit pages at the back. Each day they were responsible for documenting what they did that day. "The first thing I did today was..." "My thoughts and feelings for today are..." "The funniest thing that happened today was..." (No, Amy didn't come up with it. She got it from

For each day, they also had illustrate a page. We did allow them to use a few pictures, but the majority of the illustration was hand-drawn. My favorite was Henry's depiction of Lake Pleasant. It includes cactus, rocks, and a gila monster. (There was a gila monster on display at the visitor center.)

One day, the kids woke up early and got creative. They created the Arizona Daily newspaper. Four pages that would make their managing editor grandmother proud.

On the road, we letterboxed and played the License Plate game. At Grand Canyon National Park and Montezuma Castle National Historic Monument the kids studied and became Junior Rangers. The Junior Ranger program is more than just getting a badge, they actually learned about where we were.

Every night they read (and recorded their minutes) and I snuck in my little mini-science lessons wherever I could. Even though we didn't really try, they got pretty good at differentiating cactus and following directions to find letterboxes.

Clara stretched and danced as always. Henry practiced his Tae Kwon Do form for a stripe test on his return. Only Lilly got a break from her extracurriculars since a skating rink wasn't readily available. (Though had we thought about it we could have brought her inline skates.)

And, of course, upon our return they found they had a week of school homework waiting for them.

In the end, I'm confident they don't think they were ditching school or responsibilities. They still had to take care of everything, just a week later.

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