Balancing Acts

Somehow we made it through all of October without doing hardly any field trips and none that were just us.  We did have a couple of things planned that fell through due to illness, but really, it was just inexcusable.

It’s hard sometimes to balance the need to be home and get stuff done with the need to be engaged and spontaneous out in the world.  If I wanted my kids’ education to be only book work and occasional projects all proscribed by a teacher, I could have sent them to school.  But doing that book work and putting in the time on those fundamental skills is important too.  I posted before about how “fourth grade” felt like a watershed to me, about how I feel like we need to be putting in our time on those skills.  However, that doesn’t mean that learning has to become flat and dry or that we can’t still get a lot out of being expeditionary learners.

With that in mind, we finally made it out last week.  Morning work had to work with our listening book, The Calder Game.  The book proposes a sort of game where you think of things in fives – objects, pictures, words, ideas, anything.  So we’ve played around with drawing and then writing little five word poems or five word ideas.

Once we were all dressed and ready, we headed out to do Panera School, just checking off math, spelling and a book for science.  Then we headed to the National Gallery with little sketch books.  We wandered through leisurely then spent a long time in the Calder Room sketching and watching everything move.  Do you know, it’s actually fun to sketch a slowly moving mobile.

Note that this is not a Calder. It’s by Nancy Graves and is the only work in the “Calder Room” at the National Gallery that isn’t by Alexander Calder.

It was fun to see the other museum goers peer over the kids’ shoulders at their tiny sketch books to see what they were up to while the kids were intently looking and drawing.

Afterwards, we headed home, full of art and happiness.  The kids were so thrilled by the day and the field trip that they really shamed me into remembering how completely essential it is to get outside, to do things other than just the stuff that looks like schoolwork.  It is a balance, with all the parts of our education hanging together like one of the Calder mobiles we drew.


4 thoughts on “Balancing Acts

  1. Love the new look! Regarding Calder… I think there’s a song about him on the “Picasso, That’s Who” CD. You could email the PR person and see if they’d send you a free CD to review.

  2. Ok, so i’m a bit behind on my blog reading – but this reminded me that part of why I dont go out w the boys much is that they DONT really like it that much. Ok, Orion can handle more than Raven, but I got so tired of wrestling with Raven to try to get him to do anything other than run as quickly as possible through museums and other field trips, asking if its time to go home yet. He’s finally happy with RE classes, but still is dragging me out the door the moment its done. Even park day, after about 90 minutes, thats it, he’s done.

  3. So, so envious. No National Gallery here to “wander through leisurely.” I need to work on some field trip options – we have a good museum, but it is more dedicated to science and life in the Arctic. Not much art.

    Love the picture of the boys sketching.


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