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What Kids Think of on Their Own

In 1987, our family took a trip to Colorado. We wanted to see Mesa Verde National Park, ride the Durango-Silverton train, and use a cabin at Lake Vallecito in Durango as our home base. Jason was about nine then, and Sarah was thirteen. We had not yet started homeschooling, but we did try to give the children as many educational experiences as possible. That meant most of our vacations were also opportunities to make history, geography, and science come to life.

Our family in front of cabin at Lake Vallecito

We stayed in the cabin at the lake for about three nights. The gentleman in the next cabin taught the children to fish, something we weren’t equipped to do. When they weren’t fishing, the kids played outside the cabin.

Jason and Sarah Fishing at Lake Vallecito, 1987

When we visited Mesa Verde, we saw the Native American cliff dwellings, meeting places, etc. Then we went to a museum at the visitor center where there were models of structures we’d seen.

Jason and Sarah at Mesa Verde National Park

That night after dinner, Sarah went outside to play. I can’t recall if Jason were with her or if he was fishing. I’m sure they could see each other. When we came outside, Sarah showed us what she had made. We shouldn’t have been surprised, since she was artistic. What surprised us more was that she did this completely on her own, without anyone suggesting it. It showed us that she had integrated what she saw into her understanding of history and it had become part of her.  The top photo shows the results of her learning and creativity, using the materials she found close at hand, just as the Native Americans had.

The last picture shows all of us at Mesa Verde. I think another tourist took the photo for us with my camera. I’m wearing the neck brace because I’d been rear-ended a few months before our vacation.

Family photo at Mesa Verde National Park, 1987

What do you think?

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  1. Throughout my life, our ‘normal’ vacations have been to go camping. However, in 1961, our folks took us to the western US National Parks. It was fascinating and enlightening. I wish I’d been a little older so I might have appreciated it more.

    • I wish our kids had been a little older when we went to Washington, D.C. My daughter couldn’t figure out why George Washington wasn’t home at Mt. Vernon. She was eleven by then, but in special education classes. She still had no concept of history outside her young life. We had to work on that.

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