For as long as I can remember, I have been intrigued by castles and their history. Due to this interest, my children have grown up surrounded by books featuring castles and watching documentaries about that time period. They endured and over the years developed their own fascination regarding the culture, history, and lifestyle of the time period surrounding these mid-evil structures.
Red and Fred have been fortunate to fly all over the United States. Red has had a fear of flying over an ocean for the last few years. She has finally overcome that fear and we figured it was time to expand the travel beyond our continent. So, we set about planning a new adventure. We made sure to dedicate a lot of time to the planning this trip. Not! We decided in late September to make a trip to Scotland during the first week of October. We would only be in the country for 2 ½ days, but that’s plenty of time for a few adventures. We can sleep on the plane, right? We are known for being a bit spontaneous when it comes to travel, so leaving only two weeks to plan and not spending much time there was not out of the ordinary. We have been getting a lot less, “You’re doing what?!?”, and more sighs and okays as our families have slowly gotten used to our whims of adventure.
My plan for homeschooling and travel is to teach a topic and then visit a location that allows us to combine the previous education with hands-on experience. Since my kids have been learning about castles their whole lives, I figured that Scotland and the wealth of castles and culture available were a perfect learning opportunity. Prior to leaving, we made sure to spend extra time reading all of the books we owned regarding castles. We have several really neat lift-the-flap books that are great learning tools. We also spent some time at the library reading many of the books that they had.
Our plan for the trip was to rent a car and drive around a small portion of the country to see as many castles as possible. I booked a rental house that was in a central location to all of the areas we wanted to see. Since my husband and I had been to Scotland previously, we were comfortable with trekking around the country and seeing what we could find. I made a plan of the castles that I wanted to be sure to see and also made sure to leave enough time to be flexible with whatever else we may discover and find. With such a short time there, we knew we needed to limit the number of miles we were going to cover. Thankfully, Scotland is not a very big country.
Being in a new country where things are done a bit differently was enlightening for the kids. One of the things that they were able to learn about was currency conversion and how different other countries money looks like. It was quite a shock to realize that in Scotland the dollar is worth less than it is at home. One evening while waiting for our dinner to arrive, we spent our time examining the size and shape of the coins and understanding their value. Another thing that was a new experience was driving on the opposite side of the road. That ended up being one of the most exciting parts of the trip for the kids. Due to the fact that the roads are so narrow and curvy, we had quite a few exciting moments of close calls with other vehicles. I closed my eyes a lot!
We had a wonderful whirlwind of a trip! We were able to explore nine castles, one abbey and find two large parks to play at. I had grand plans of the kids keeping daily journals, but in reality, they lived in the moment and were exhausted by the end of every day.
During the school days following our trip, we went back through the castle books that we had and compared the books to what we saw. It was truly wonderful to see their excitement correlating what they had just seen in person, to what was in the books. We also did a few journal entries about what they saw and what they enjoyed doing.
Overall, our first trip relating to education was a success!