Exploring New Lands
We are very blessed that our incomes afford us with opportunities to travel. At her ripe old age of 8, our daughter had a chance to see Germany and Mexico, Florida and New Jersey as well as travel to some great places in our own state of California. For this spring break, we have decided to explore a place new to all of us – Maui island of Hawaii. Smarty was super excited about this trip. Her third grade is studying habitats, and she was dying to see some “real” new habitats during this trip.
OceanIt was our first real beach vacation with our daughter – Northern California beaches are spectacular, but they are quite cold with high waves and treacherous tides. West Maui beaches are sandy, the water is warm and clear, and the live coral reefs start just a few yards away from the shore providing a perfect opportunity for snorkeling and exploring underwater kingdoms. We’ve seen beautiful fish and even some sea turtles – Smarty was truly in paradise. It’s one thing to watch videos about tropical seas or read about fish or turtles, but it’s quite a different matter to actually swim side by side with them – even a visit to the aquarium cannot topple that. But, of course, there are innumerable activities that we could do to support this hands-on exploration – Living Montessori Now has a great Ocean Unit Study Pinterest board.
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Volcanic MountainsIt was tempting to spend an entire week sitting on the beach, but we wanted to explore different parts of an island. So one day we piled our warm clothes into the car and drove up the winding road to Haleakala National Park with the summit towering 10,000 feet over the sea level and a spectacular view down into the erosion crater. We were somewhat disappointed with park hours – we came there at around 4 pm, so we can see the sunset from the summit, but the visitor center closed at 3:30 pm. And even with all our warm clothes, the wind was bitterly cold up there – which made sunset somewhat less enjoyable. The landscape, however, was beautiful, and we even got to see a rainbow on the clouds. The only shelter at the summit had some interesting information about Haleakala geology and its unique inhabitants that exist nowhere else in the world. Volcano Activities for Kids board has some great art projects, science activities, and snacks to extend learning about these wonders of the natural world.
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Despite the fact that Smarty loved her time on the beach, she was eagerly looking forward to Saturday when we decided to go on an all day driving trip that would take us more or less around an entire island of Maui – a trip known as the road to Hana. Some drivers find a narrow winding road too stressful, but it’s not that different from California Highway 1 and certainly spectacular. Rainforest proved its name, and there was rain on our way, but it was not raining all the time. We’ve seen beautiful flowers, waterfalls, and all kinds of trees. Unfortunately, we haven’t made it all the way to Hana. We stopped at the 19th mile marker to walk back on the road to a beautiful waterfall, and, when we came back, we found the window in our car smashed with a heavy stone. This was a non-geography lesson of Hawaii – don’t leave anything valuable visible in the car! We had to pay a price of a backpack that had nothing valuable in it and of an aborted trip, since we had to turn around and drive back to the rental facility to exchange our car. Luckily, we purchased an additional rental car insurance that proved invaluable in this case.
Smarty was, of course, shaken by the fact that we were vandalized and quite upset by not being able to make it to the most spectacular parts of the trip, but at least she had a chance to really be in the rainforest. Perhaps it’s a sign that we have to visit Maui again one day to complete our trip! And, if you want more rainforest resources, check out this Rainforest board from Tina’s Dymanic Homeschool Plus.
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Have you been on a trip lately? Where?
More Geography Resources for Kids?Follow my Pinterest board Geography
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