“Little School in the Big Woods”

For the past 23 years we have homeschooled our kids. Over the years that often included extended travel. This is the first time, however, that we have tried “Little School in the Big Woods.”

Outdoor education

While our primary focus for the past six weeks has been life skills in the context of daily backpacking, we have included relevant academics as well. Sometimes this was in formal settings such as visiting museums, earning a Jr Ranger badge at a National Park, or attending a historical reenactment event.


Jr Ranger

Civil War Reenactment

Natural Science is obviously easy to cover.  (See blog post HERE about critters we have seen in the trip.) We also made time for drawing, journal writing, storytelling, and singing.


Drawing of Backpack


Finally, we carried my kindle so we had access to literature about the great outdoors. Most evenings we read out loud: poetry by Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, Robert Service, and from Psalms; and historical fiction about early exploration and settlement of the Ohio Valley in “The Frontiersmen” by Allan Eckart. (We would love to hear YOUR favorite literature or poetry about the great outdoors! We want to continue exploring this theme throughout the rest of the school year.) 

Traveling library

Daughter was so enthralled by “The Spell of the Yukon,” a poem by Yukon gold miner Robert Service, that she now has it memorized. She gives dramatic recitations to all who are interested (and even to those who are just being polite!) If you don’t have the chance to hear her in person, you can read the poem HERE.

When we get home, we will continue to explore what we have learned in our outdoor education. Possibilities include making posters and brochures, writing stories or even a children’s book, building a model of an AT shelter, designing quilt squares, and more. We will keep you posted…

(Note: we finished this year’s epic adventure on Oct. 21 but still have plenty of photos and posts to share with you!)

(Read about another key part of Daughter’s homeschooling curriculum HERE — collecting Jr Ranger badges at National Parks)

3 thoughts on ““Little School in the Big Woods”

  1. Hoot by Carl HIaasen – emphasizes wildlife found in suburbs also

    My Side of the Mountain – Jean Craighead George – a kids’ ultimate fantasty about survival in nature

    Poem about fall: http://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/to-autumn-by-john-keats

    Emily Dickinson writes nature poems, such as http://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/a-narrow-fellow-in-the-grass (you two understand “zero at the bone”!)

    Another good fall one (When the Frost is on the Punkin by James Whitcomb Riley): http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174222

    Adelaide Crapsey invented the cinquain and this one is perfect for fall:


    With faint dry sound,
    Like steps of passing ghosts,
    The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees
    And fall.
    I realize you didn’t ask about fall but that’s what I’m thinking about!


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