The best thing about living smack dab in the middle of California, is that we are just as close to the beach as we are to the mountains. Some days you just need to hear the waves crashing on the shore. So when my dad asked if Squishy and I wanted to go test out his new trailer at the beach with him, I may have shouted my glee and done a happy dance. And when I say “may have”, what I mean is I totally did a wobbly jig. I was still wearing the bulky walking cast when he asked, so I wasn’t sure exactly how it would go. I just knew we needed to hear the ocean.
I had my orthopedic check up early Thursday morning, where she gave me the go ahead to start wearing a splint. (And real shoes!!!) We hit the road right after my appointment. The forecast called for rain, but I have always loved a good rain at the beach. Plus we were hoping the rain would work in our favor. All of the RV and trailer parking on the cliff is open on a first come first serve basis. It’s always a gamble if you will get a spot or not. Our gamble paid off in spades this trip. Even though we did have a couple of neighbors, we pretty much had the beach to ourselves.
Squishy spent most of the day Thursday running from the waves. I purposely only brought a shovel and a bucket for his “beach toys”. Mostly because I really didn’t want to be lugging toys up and down the cliff, but also so he would enjoy the whole beach experience. Sea shells, drift wood, and all that sand is the perfect loose parts provocation. Just because I was on a mini-vacation didn’t mean he was off the hook for school after all.
I had to bribe him with a Wild Kratts episode on my phone to get him to leave the beach that first night. It almost didn’t work, and I was very close to having to bodily carry him up the steps. We are not a huge TV family, but the PBS Kids App has saved my sanity several times. So while Grandpa finished setting up the trailer, and I made dinner, Squishy relaxed out on the cliff watching the ocean with the Wild Kratts.
As luck, or irony, would have it the episode that popped up was on tide pools. He learned enough about star fish, muscles, and barnacles in 20 minutes to peak his very curious mind. “Mom do you think there are tide pools in the rocks we were climbing on today?” Yes!!!
Friday morning we woke up with the sun (so much for my relaxing vacation, right?!) and headed down to the beach. Squishy and I sat on the rocks at the base of the cliff stairs and talked about the tides. It was one of those BiG Juicy Conversations we are working on with our “Brave Writer” curriculum. The tide was so high that it came right up to our toes. Squishy noticed that all of the rocks we had been climbing on the day before we’re covered in water, too. He also concluded that we should probably wait to explore the tide pools till after lunch when the water would be lower, and we should just play in the water till then…
Once the tide had receded and our bellies were full, it was time to start exploring those mysterious tide pools. Squishy made it quite clear we were on a mission to find “interesting creatures”, and boy did we find them!
The one concession made was that we must wear shoes while searching for these creatures. Which led to another conversation about barnacles and other rock clinging creatures that could hurt him. It was a war inside his mind, but in the end his thirst for knowledge won out against his hatred of shoes. Safety always comes first, and even though we go on some wild adventures I have tried to keep that forefront in his mind. I have a feeling he will need my nagging words in his conscience as he gets older.
As we climbed over rocks and through sandy pools we were transported to a magical tiny world. Star fish as big as my torso, hundreds of periwinkle snails, and muscles. There were giant rock crabs and teeny tiny hermit crabs. The large sandstone boulders were covered in barnacles and sea anemones. With each new discovery Squishy’s excitement bubbled even bigger and his questions got harder.
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Contrary to what my four-year old believes, I do not in fact have ALL the answers. But Google does. So after the sun went down on our adventure, and Squishy was cuddled up on the fold out bed in the trailer, I was busy searching Google for the names of all the creatures he had seen, the plants, and what they all eat. I honestly don’t know how I would homeschool without my late night Google searches. I found resources to add to our library so he could explore his interest more, science experiments, and proper tide pooling protocols.
Google is a rabbit hole that I have gone down many, many nights searching for resources to facilitate Squishy’s unquenchable thirst for information. Following his interests (which can change with the wind) and incorporating them into our daily rhythm, means I am exhaustively researching at all times. Jack of all trades master of none surely refers to a homeschool mom.
So our little outing to the beach, much as most of our adventures, turned into a riveting lesson. This one on the intertidal zone. But we also just enjoyed being out and about again. That is the best part of homeschooling to me. Our school doesn’t have to look like a public school. Learning can and does happen anywhere. The information is absorbed with giddy enthusiasm, so much so half the time it doesn’t even seem like learning at all. (Wink Wink)
I would love to know what your late night homeschool google searches turn up..