Here’s some fun ways we worked learning into our foray into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula last week…
1. We tried regional foods for every possible meal, from pasties to Norwegian flat bread to orange-drizzled, nectarine-blueberry salad (which was insanely good, I might add!) and talked about the history and geography behind all of the foods.
2. We drank straight-from-the-source Artisian water and talked about where it came from, along with water from Lake Superior (which tasted so clear and sweet and pure it was nearly supernatural). We talked about underground springs (and found one while hiking!) and water quality, plus water purification and additives. We wanted to bring home water from the U.P. and never drink anything else!
Anna filled this bottle again and again with Lake Superior water to pour it into her mouth!
3. We went rock hunting and talked about how agates are formed, along with many other wonderful types of rocks. Jack learned how to identify volcanic rock and we found everything from smooth beach glass to melted metals to fossils to quartz.
3. We learned about the many, many shipwrecks on Lake Superior over the years.
4. We learned the history of the region, including the many cultures who have lived there and why. We got a feeling for what it was like to live in the region as Native Americans, as immigrant miners and more through a wonderful multi-media film at an interpretive center.
5. We studied the history of the tribes whose reservations we visited (both of our hotels were on tribal land) and talked to native people about the area and the history. We learned that the Bad River reservation was called that because the river flooded so often and ruined homes so frequently that they finally moved the whole town away from it. We read tribal newspapers and talked about the similarities between the tribes we know in Minnesota.
6. At a park where we rested on the way back, the children studied fish behavior and ran experiments when they tried to feed them bread and discovered (to their delight) that they’d happily gobble it up. They tried different sizes of bread and did things like roll it into tiny balls. They hypothesized that the fish preferred the low, slowly falling pieces to the floating bits on top and altered their bread to suit the fish.
7. We stopped at this giant fish museum and got there too late to tour the grounds and climb inside the giant fish, but got a fantastic glow-in-the-dark T-shirt for the kids (we always get one big one and they just all use it as a sleep shirt for souvenirs) that was full of fun fish information. We also loaded up with brochures and handouts so we could learn more than we ever wanted to about muskies and trouts and more.
8. The kids did art challenges to pass the time in the van. Designing was a favorite (especially Project Runway style challenges!).
9. We hiked in the Porcupine Mountains and explored ancient forests, where we talked about what might have been happening in the United States when different trees were seedlings.
10. We talked, sang, argued, discussed, questioned, photographed, sketched, logged, joked, studied, watched, listened, read and otherwise soaked up every bit of our time that we could. 🙂
There’s a few more pics and fun things here too. There was just so much that was magical and memorable!