We are half way through our summer holidays and some children are starting to get antsy (why is it that summer feels longer when you’re a child). As a mom of three I am constantly looking for great ways of getting my kids engaged in the world around them. As a teacher, I’m trying to weave in learning any opportunity I can. At a family BBQ I overheard a young ten year old boy talking to another parent about how Pokemon Go does just that. “Seriously it gets kids outside and seeing other places, while they chase Pokemon” he said with enthusiasm. This sent my brain into a frenzy. I admit I have not played the game, nor will I, and this post is in no way judgement of those that do. That being said, as a mom and as a teacher there are many many more ways that we can engage our children in learning, getting them outside into the community around us, without having them chase imaginary characters while looking at a screen. Here’s just a few ways we can do that in and around our beautiful community and keep our kids engaged and learning at the same time.
The Okanagan Valley is a gift of amazing outdoor adventures, with a plethora of lakes and mountains to explore. Outdoor adventures provide great opportunities to teach your children about geography, animal and plant life. Kelowna has many areas to hike that provide great exercise and learning opportunities for kids. Some of our family favourites are Paul’s Tomb, Pincushion, Mount Boucherie, Christie Falls, Spionkop and Okanagan Mountain Park. Hiking provides great opportunities for learning both during and after the hike.
- Plant Life – Collect their favourite plant life along the hike. Bring them home and research what kind of plant it is. What are its uses (indigenous)? What is it’s lifecycle?
- Wise Weed Experiment – Wear a sock outside your shoe and go for a hike. Look at the seeds your sock collects along the way. Do you know if you plant that sock in dirt (or wet it and put it in a ziplock bag by the window) it will grow?
- Geography – While you are hiking look at the different geographical features along the way? How do you think they were formed? When you are at home research the geography of the Okanagan valley, and draw a picture of what you think it used to look like.
- Photography – Take five pictures along your hike that inspire you. Use them as inspiration to write a journal entry about your hike, a poem or a story. Inspiration for stories are everywhere we look.
- Moment of quiet – Find a favourite spot to take a break. Find a spot away from each other and take two minutes to be absolutely still and quiet. What do you hear? What do you see? When your time is up talk as a family about what we notice when we are completely still.
Hands on History
Kelowna is a relatively young city in relation to many cities around the world. Father Pandosy arrived in 1859, however it wasn’t until 1892 that the Kelowna site actually began to take shape. We have some great historical learning centers in and around the Okanagan that provide opportunities for our children to see Kelowna’s transformation over time. Our family favourites are Father Pandosy, Okeefe Ranch and the Kelowna Museum. When exploring these great places there are some wonderful opportunities for learning.
- Day in the life – Talk about how life would be different back in the early 1900’s. Have a day at home when you live like pioneers. Can you last a whole day not using water, electricity or technology? What would that be like? Come up with activities that you can do as a family that the early settlers may have done.
- Kelowna research – research Kelowna’s history (great site here) and talk about what you notice about how it’s changed. Interview a family member or a friend that has lived in Kelowna a long time. Brainstorm five to ten questions that you would like to ask them about Kelowna then and now.
- Story writing – Write a story or a journal entry from the perspectives of someone living during that time. Describe what their life would be like. Try and empathize with what it would be like living without the comforts that we have now.
- Family debate – Is life easier today? Divide your family into two teams, one side will argue yes and one side will argue no. Brainstorm with your teammate great arguments and try and think of what the other team may argue against you. How will you persuade them to see your point of view? Debate your side with the other team, taking turns to share your views. Remember debates are always respectful. Parents this is a great time to talk to your children about different ideas and how we can be respectful when we disagree.
Above all, enjoy your time as a family. Talking about what we see and hear shows our children that learning is active and engaging and it never stops even when we aren’t in school. These experiences also give you children a wide variety of background knowledge that will assist them as life long learners. Seeing and being active in the world together is a great way of inspiring our children to love learning and find new areas of interest.
I woud love to hear of ways that you love to learn together as a family, drop me a line or share pictures of you doing some of these activities. Most of all go enjoy the rest of this beautiful Okanagan Summer, we truly are blessed to live here!