In the homeschool community we jokingly say that just about everything can count for homeschool. Why? Every moment is a learning opportunity. I’m not one to say “She played with her toy kitchen and food, so that’s home economics.” because in reality there were no new skills or knowledge being acquired so for us there are limits. Where the flexibility of homeschooling becomes a beautiful thing is when real life meets a true learning opportunity.
My mother-in-law is not big on getting Christmas gifts. She prefers to take small trips or spend time doing something fun with her kids and grandkids. For 2015 we surprised her with a trip to the Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina. This year we decided on Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. She’s been talking about seeing the Christmas light display they have every year so we planned an overnight trip.
We decided to head down early and see the Little White House and Warm Springs. If you aren’t familiar with the Little White House or Warm Springs, Georgia it was a home-away-from-home for Franklin D. Roosevelt before and during his presidency. He came to the springs hoping to ease his polio symptoms and liked it so much he built a house near by where he later died.
Do you see where I’m going with this? We took a trip we were making for fun and turned it into a legitimate homeschool trip. My husband assigned our boys (7th and 4th grade) a five paragraph report on FDR and the Little White House that would be due the Friday after we got home. He gave them clipboards and some generic information to get them started.
I was very excited (the boys not so much) to find the park had a full page questionnaire to fill out during our visit. There were several sheets so the boys each got a different one. They really enjoyed the scavenger hunt parts where they had to find little hidden or hard-to-find things throughout the Little White House and the museum. For completing their sheets the park staff gave them a special stamp and trading card.
At the park they have a really cool walk way surrounded on both sides by each state flag called the Walk of Flags. At the base of each flag is a large sample of rock from that state. Some were even carved into that state’s shape. This played very nicely into what we learned last year when we studied US Geography. Even Lulu (5) remembered tons about each state and of course she wasn’t shy about telling us everything she could fit into our short time there.
After seeing the Little White House we traveled a short distance to the historic site of Roosevelt’s Warm Springs Institute. When I first imagined “warm springs” where people could swim to help relax their muscles I pictured an actual spring fed pond where people could swim. Roosevelt’s Warm Springs is actually several connected concrete swimming pools built around the natural spring. There are changing and shower rooms that were once used by patients and their families.
The pools have been empty for years, but there is a trough-like fountain where the warm water bubbles up so you can feel it year-round. The kids had a ball playing in the warm water! Lulu and Drewdle pretty much got soaked. Thankfully it was warm for December. Lulu looks upset in this picture, but I promise she was having a ball (insert eye-roll).
If you live in or are ever in Georgia I highly recommend stopping over at the Little White House and Warm Springs. There is no better history lesson than walking in someone’s shoes! If you want more info: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Little White House
NOTE for Georgia residents: You can visit your local library and check out a GA State Parks parking pass and a Historic Park Admission pass. The admission pass works for 4 people so hubby, myself and our older two boys were covered. The younger 3 are 5 and under so they were free. We were able to visit the Little White House and the springs free of charge!
Want more homeschool fun? Check out the Holiday Traditions Homeschool Link Up by The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew!