As a homeschooling mom, I’m always looking for creative ways to teach concepts. We use a pretty traditional approach with text books and even–gasp!–workbooks, but I like to find fun games, books, field trips, or even iPad apps to drive home what we’ve learned. So I was pretty excited this morning when I saw my six-year-old learning about states of matter and the water cycle by playing “Where’s My Perry?” on the iPad.
“Where’s My Perry?” is a re-invented version of “Where’s My Water?”, and both are free downloads from iTunes. While I don’t quite understand all the bells and whistles (or, rather, lasers and “enators”), I do understand that in playing you get a mini-course in physics (how levers and such move; how friction works) and the states of matter (solid, liquid, gas). Specifically, there are times when you must freeze the water to block an area, and other times when you need to heat the water to turn it to steam so that it will rise into the air. In the meantime, you’re moving various objects to clear a path for the water–or block the path when necessary. Very basic, very simple–but a fun, effective way to teach scientific principles.
It’s the last official day of school for the Gibbs Family Academy! (Although, as a homeschooling family we try to create a lifestyle of learning that goes beyond the school calendar or classroom walls.) In honor of that momentous occasion, I’d like to share a photo from our visit to Disney’s Homeschool Days in 2010. This is a pic of the stage setup for our Homeschool Days presentation. The program centered on the arts, which was a big draw for this creative family! We heard from executives and experts in areas including costume design, performing arts, and design/construction. We learned the story behind those cool ovens in Via Napoli and listened as an Imagineer told us how she worked her way up into that position and gave some insight to some of the projects on which she had worked. All fascinating stuff!
This year’s Disney Homeschool Days presentation will be on October 25. Not only does Disney offer some excellent educational programs to complement your visit, but they also offer great discounts on tickets–and ticket discounts are very rare at WDW! If you’re a homeschooling family, click here for more information.
I am fortunate to have a few Disney Cast Member friends, and from time to time I spot one of them in a promotional photo, video, or ad for Walt Disney World. Most recently, I spotted our friend Claire on the 2012 Disney Vacation Planning DVD in the section about Disney’s Hollywood Studios (she’s a hostess at Disney Junior). But this is the first time one of our non-Cast Member friends has ever made it into a Disney promo video.
Lori, a fellow homeschooling mom that I’ve known since my eldest daughter attended preschool with her daughter, is the second parent (and first mom) featured in this video about Disney’s Homeschool Days. I believe her husband is the last one who speaks in the video. And, yes, we are among the friends she mentions who had attended the program previously and recommended it!
If you’re a homeschooling family and don’t know about Disney’s Homeschool Days, I encourage you to go here and learn more. No dates have been released for the 2012 Homeschool Days, but other YES (Youth Education Series) programs are listed for the year.
I’ve been anxiously awaiting the announcement of dates for the fall Homeschool Days at Walt Disney World. After a great experience at last year’s Homeschool Days (you can read about it here), we were all set to go again this year. But after multiple calls and emails to no avail (Disney seemed to be dragging their feet a bit in releasing the dates), we decided we needed go forward with planning our fall vacation. Instead of the Homeschool Days, we’re taking advantage of Disney’s individual enrollment for their YES programs (a similar experience to Homeschool Days that you can read about here).
All that explanation to say…today I was perusing the Youth Programs website and discovered that they actually had a listing for fall registration for Homeschool Days! No, you cannot register just yet…and they don’t have the complete list of programs…but they did list the date and theme of the special presentation that is included with your registration/ticket purchase.
The program will be October 3, and here’s a brief summary of the presentation:
Join us as a Walt Disney World® Resort Chef uses his culinary expertise to teach your homeschooler how to create a healthy lifestyle through the science of food. During this interactive presentation, students will hear why it’s important to eat a balanced diet, how to make healthy food choices and even learn to prepare a delicious, good-for-you recipe.
Sounds fun! We’re a little sad that we won’t be hanging with our fellow homeschoolers this year, but I’m super excited to instead be spending my 40th birthday at our family’s favorite vacation spot.
This one is especially for all the home educators out there. I’m still waiting for Disney to announce the dates for this fall’s Homeschool Days–I have heard everything from September to November dates. I’m really hoping they announce soon, ’cause we have a pin code that expires at the end of February, and we wanna take advantage of those savings at the same time, if at all possible.
In the mean time, Disney has opened individual enrollment to several of their educational programs that have traditionally been available to groups. That means that even if you don’t visit the parks during their official Homeschool Days, you can take advantage of some of the unique programs they offer. The dates currently open are for summer (June through August), so they’re actually quite convenient for those enrolled in traditional schools too! Click here to see the variety of programs available to students from ages 7 through 18.
It only took me until 7 p.m. to get a post up today (sarcasm). What can I say? Homeschool re-entry after Christmas break is kicking our tails this week. Teacher Mama is a little exhausted. But, persevere we must!
Speaking of homeschooling, here’s my Thursday’s Tip: look for ways to incorporate learning into your WDW vacation. This applies to any family with school-aged children, but certainly to those of us who home educate. Either in the days/weeks leading up to a WDW trip or those after, you can make connections with Disney attractions and what your child is currently studying. Here are some of the preparations we made before our last visit to help make our trip a genuine learning experience:
We read about all the Presidents of the USA, and memorized facts about several of them. We read a bit of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address too, so my daughter was excited when she was able to hear the animatronic Lincoln recite this in the Hall of Presidents.
We studied fables and fairytales, and especially the Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox stories. This made the calm parts of Splash Mountain even more entertaining.
We discussed each of the countries featured in the World Showcase at Epcot, learning what language they speak, their form of government, foods that they grow or eat, and the design of their flags. This made strolling through the pavilions (something that, let’s face it, doesn’t always interest young children) a bit more appealing.
Not only have we seen Peter Pan about a gazillion times (and probably ridden it nearly as many), but we’ve also listened to the original book on CD…hearing the lavish descriptions by J.M. Barrie.
Before hopping on Kilimanjaro Safaris, we discussed some of the animals we would see at Animal Kingdom. We talked about different types of habitats and what sorts of animals live in different countries and continents.
We did an entire unit on dinosaurs before our trip, so we were super excited to see Dino Sue on the way to Dinosaur. (Dinosaur, however, was NOT our favorite attraction–too scary!)
Besides our preparations before our trip, we also took the time to read more of the informational signage on this trip. Instead of just looking at the “fish” in the Seas with Nemo & Friends, we read about each of the sea creatures and listened to the Cast Members as they explained their habits. We strolled some paths we’d never strolled before and soaked up new information. We spent more time observing and less time rushing to the next attraction.
The possibilities for learning at WDW really are only limited by your imagination. From Animal Kingdom for science, the World Showcase in Epcot for social studies, Disney’s Hollywood Studios for the fine arts, and the fairytale world of the Magic Kingdom for literature, there’s no end to the things you can learn at Disney World!
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