It’s probably no surprise that homeschoolers often try to squeeze every bit of educational value out of just about any field trip or outing. The grocery store, the museum, the library, the dentist’s office; they all become temporary classrooms for many homeschoolers. Also not surprising, is that homeschoolers love Disneyland! Consequently, homeschooling parents often want to take advantage of any educational benefit that can be found in their Disneyland vacation. If you have a Disneyland trip planned and would like ideas for making your trip as educational as possible, the following tips can help you!
First off, travel can be very educational – Before you even get to Disneyland, realize that your method of travel to get there can be both fun and educational. Whether your family will be flying or even taking a road trip with other homeschoolers, be sure to provide maps for the kids so that they can understand fully where their travel will take them. My son learned to read and use a road atlas during our last road trip to Disneyland (a 2 day drive each way for us), and was an expert by the time we arrived back home. He’s only eleven, but I have no doubts that he is completely capable of mapping out an accurate road trip to any destination in North America now. If your family or group will be flying or traveling by train, tour the airport or depot, and teach your homeschooling students how to check baggage, get their e-tickets, and check schedules.
Don’t miss Abraham Lincoln – You could do an entire homeschool unit study on Abraham Lincoln before your Disneyland trip, and then visit the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln attraction once you get there. This is a great way for homeschooling kids to learn about Abraham Lincoln, and might be the best educational element of Disneyland. If you decide to do this, be sure to include material about the Civil War, the photographer Mathew Brady (he’s featured, indirectly, in the Disneyland attraction), and the Gettysburg Address, which is recited during the presentation.
Learn about California landmarks – If you happen to be a homeschooling family visiting from outside of California, take a little time to learn a bit about California landmarks, as well as its natural features and national parks. Your homeschooling students will enjoy attractions like Soarin’ Over California even more if they recognize places like Yosemite Falls. Additionally, they’ll recognize landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and even the Redwoods while inside California Adventure.
Consider a homeschool unit study on early aviation – As you wait in line for the Soarin’ Over California attraction, you will see several photos and short biographies of early aviators. Your time in line will be educational and less boring if you and your kids have already acquired some knowledge about the aviators featured in the queue.
There’s a real Matterhorn? – There most certainly is, and any Disneyland loving homeschooler would probably get a kick out of learning a bit about the real one (located in the Swiss Alps) and seeing a photo to compare to the Matterhorn attraction at Disneyland. In one short educational lesson, your kids can learn where Switzerland is on the globe, a little about Alpinism, and the explorer Edward Whymper. Check out YouTube for some traditional Swiss music, too, which you’ll also hear while you wait in line to ride the Disneyland attraction.
New Orleans Square can be educational – New Orleans really is a culture unto itself, and that culture is decently represented at Disneyland. Consider a small homeschool study of the city of New Orleans before your Disneyland trip. Learn about the food, the music, the people, and Mardi Gras. When you get to Disneyland, you can try some of the food you’ve read about (especially the beignets in Downtown Disney!), listen to live Dixieland music, and maybe even catch some Mardi Gras beads.
There are a lot of ways to make your Disneyland vacation an educational homeschool field trip, so keep your eyes open and take advantage of educational opportunities as they arise.