For many of us that homeschool, the idea of completely closing the books and shutting down for the summer just doesn’t happen. We’ve been doing some schoolwork each summer for the past few years, especially in some areas that needed wrapping up or just continuity to keep from the brain drain so many school systems see. But, learning during the summer months can be fun while still helping the child grow.
In Alaska, the warm weather months seem to go by quickly and many people cram as much activity as possible into these long days. Our family is no exception and we occasionally have to get creative with piecing together fun adventures for the family that also allow for learning.
So many of our past summer fields trips have involved learning more about the areas of Alaska we can easily get to on the road system. Some of them have been more about the natural world, while others fit very well with Alaska history and the study of native cultures. Below are a sampling of places we’ve been blessed to visit up here, some of which are on our list for this summer.
Take some time to visit the previous posts to read more about the ones that interest you the most.
Learning about Nature
Animals can be found all around, but some are just easier to see in a ‘captive’ setting. The Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage, Alaska is one place that we’ve visited several times. Viewing Alaskan Wildlife in Portage and Revisiting the Wildlife Refuge in Portage are the two posts I’ve written about those different visits. I’m glad that we can view a bear with the safety of a fence compared to out in the wild with concern over being mauled.
Last summer, while my parents were here, we made a trek up to Fairbanks. On the way up, we stopped overnight outside Denali National Park and Reserve and spent some time at the visitor center plus a brief drive on the short segment of open roadway. The exhibits were nice for giving a sense of the animals you might encounter.
Down by Seward, Alaska, there’s plethora of glaciers. Exit Glacier is one that you can drive up and then hike right to it. We didn’t plan to visit the glacier the day we were there and had not worn the best shoes for hiking. But, I’m thinking a return visit this summer will happen so we can make the hike right up to the glacier.
Alaskan History and Native Cultures
Alpine Historical Park in the Mat-Su valley had a mixture of regional history and natural history. I have to admit that I have great respect for those who came here many years ago and survived the harsh living conditions they found.
We really enjoyed visiting Hope, Alaska last summer and Mr. O jokes (or only partially jokes) about wanting to buy ‘vacation’ property there. I felt like our initial visit to their historical museum was cut short and the boys are eager to head back to the river for gold panning fun and maybe some fishing for salmon.
In Anchorage, you can visit the Alaskan Native Heritage Center to learn more about the various cultures considered native to Alaska. The day we visited, we were able to watch a demonstration of different feats of skill that are part of the Native Games each year. I shared still photos of that demonstration as well as a video montage of them. D got to try muktuk, which he and his brothers decided was something they never want to eat again.
You can find other Alaskan adventures on our blog and rest assured that there are more to come in the days ahead.
What field trips have you taken during the summer with your kids?
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