Road Schooling – The Lake Erie Nature & Science Center


One of the greatest advantages of homeschooling, and one of the more compelling reasons we wanted to choose this path is the flexibility.  Our work schedules don’t fit into the Monday-Friday 9-5 mold.  Handsome Hippy Hubby is off on Monday and Tuesday and he works most holidays.  I work Monday, Wednesday and Friday at my church job and the time leading up to holidays is often extra busy. As far as writing… that comes in the very early mornings, very late at night and all the spare quiet moments in between I can find.

With a schedule like ours, we often struggled to plan trips when Sweet Hippie Daughter was in public school.  Either we would have to take time off from work, which we really can’t afford to do too often, or she would have to miss school.

Homeschool = problem solved.  We just take our school on the road when the opportunity presents itself.

Most recently, we headed off to Cleveland to visit the grandparents and do a review for US Family Guide.  That gave us about 2 1/2 hours in each direction for reading and discussion, which was lovely and passed so quickly I almost wished it was a longer drive.  When we got there grandpa talked a lot about aliens – it’s one of his favorite subjects – and Sweet Hippie Daughter had some really interesting input based on an article she’d read in last month’s National Geographic Magazine about black holes.  When she mentioned “the intense gravity in the singularity at the center of a black hole,” I felt like, just maybe, we were doing this thing right!

While we were in the Cleveland area we had some free time and decided to use it to visit the Lake Erie  Nature and Science Center in Bay Village.  I have written about my love affair with the Ohio Metroparks before.  They are an extraordinary FREE resource for anyone who loves nature, history, gardening, and beautiful places.  (I’m thinking that must be nearly everyone.)

"I didn't know there were rattlesnakes in Ohio, Mama!"  I didn't know either. Yeesh.

“I didn’t know there were rattlesnakes in Ohio, Mama!” I didn’t know either. Yeesh.

The Science Center isn’t a huge place, but there are fabulous things to explore and teach and provoke new thoughts around every corner.  There are several animal displays and aquariums inside the building including turtles, snakes, lizards, fish and more.  There is a gorgeous “tide pool” that drains and fills again, just like the ocean waves are washing over it.  Sweet Hippie Daughter and Grandma must have spent 20 minutes sitting on the edge of it trying to find all of the wild-looking ocean critters that lived in there.

While they were busy with that, Toddler-saurus Rex enjoyed looking at the fish tanks and playing with giant floor puzzles and coloring sheets that were laid out for younger children.

science center vultureWe got to meet a turkey vulture that was at the center recovering from a gunshot wound.  The animals there are all being rehabilitated to be released back into the wild or they are being cared for there because they are, for one reason or another, unable to survive on their own in the wild.

Sweet Hippie Daughter spent a few minutes checking out the gigantic globe of Mars.  She has said before that she wants to be in the first manned mission to Mars.  If that actually happens I will be unbearably proud and totally, completely terrified.  I will also, with no reservation, release this picture to the media and giggle every time I see it on TV.

Lake Erie Nature and Science Center

Since it was the first warm sunny day since we’ve had since Adam and Eve got kicked out of Eden (OK, not really, but, at a balmy 45 degrees and sunny, it sure felt like it!) we couldn’t resist visiting the outdoor exhibits, too.  We got to see different species of owls, hawks, eagles, ducks and other birds as well as rabbits, the cutest racoon in the universe (because he wasn’t strewing garbage on my lawn or eating my cookies at a campsite), a fox, a woodchuck and a mink.  The girl had a whole conversation with this deer who, I swear, understood every word she was saying.

science center deer

While she was bonding with Bambi T-Rex and Grandpa rested their feet on the little deck overlooking the duck pond.

Lake Erie Nature and Science Center

I found inspiration for a spring-time upcycling project in this butterfly house.

Science Center Butterfly House

And then we had to take a few moments to investigate the massive hollow log in the center’s entryway.

Lake Erie Nature and Science Center

We had so much fun and we learned all manner of things about earth, space and the creatures we share our space with.  We got to play and laugh and stretch our legs and feel the sun on our faces.  I can’t think of many better ways to spend a day!

If you want to visit or find out more about the parts of the center/park we didn’t get to see (including a planetarium), visit their website for all the details.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 



6 responses »

  1. The pic with Grandpa is timeless. You should frame that one! Sounds like you had a great time! We love nature stuff too. Seems we never have enough time to stop and enjoy the animals.

  2. My little brothers are home schooled and I think that they really do get a better education than I might have (well, maybe until I went to prep school…but that’s because I’m a little bit of a nerd and was a totally different kid than they are, but anywho…) they get to go on great vacations disguised as times of learning at neat historic places and take tours of places that I never had access to just by saying, “We’re homeschooling our kids and were hoping you could show them a little more about this or that…” It’s such a neat opportunity!

    – Brooke –

  3. You always make me feel better about the possibility of homeschooling our girls. I’m so terrified of screwing them up, but life’s adventures are really a great way to learn, so maybe I don’t have to take on all the stress! And I love places like these were kids have fun and learn at the same time.

  4. The flexibility and opportunity for hands-on learning definitely drew us towards homeschooling as well! I love that we can go for a hike and count objects, talk about animals and plants, and consider it school! Obviously once my kids are bigger we can actually take plant samples to look at under a microscope, talk about photosynthesis, and amp it up, but right now my kids are only doing preschool learning 🙂
    I hope that sometime when the kids are all a bit bigger we might even be able to do an extended stay in another country- what a learning experience that would be for them!
    Homeschooling is such fun (and such work, but let’s focus on the positives! 😉 )

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