Unschooling: Our October 2015 and Free to Be adventures

The Wolfpack. Cam, Sarah, Chloe, Liv and Quinn spent almost every waking moment of Free to Be together. Now if only the others didn't live in Arizona and Texas...

The Wolfpack. Cam, Sarah, Chloe, Liv and Quinn spent almost every waking moment of Free to Be together. Now if only the others didn’t live in Arizona and Texas…

WOW. This was a packed month, and I know I’m not even going to begin to do it justice in this post. We, you know, drove across the country and back, took part in what I called a temporary unschooling commune, took some alpacas to a local group home, stuck Washi tape to every surface imaginable, saw a Shakespeare performance, saw a Dracula performance, and generally just packed in every minute with some adventure.

(If this is your first time catching our month-in-review posts, welcome! Check out our archive of previous wrapups here for some more info on why we take this approach to documenting some of our unschooling learning adventures.)

Sarah had her F2B posse; I had mine. We did not have a good name like "Wolfpack," but we were moms of four-fifths of the pack?

Sarah had her F2B posse; I had mine. We did not have a good name like “Wolfpack,” but we were moms of four-fifths of the pack?

All about Free to Be

Here’s the super-short version of the biggest event of our year: From Sept. 26 to Oct. 11, we drove to Phoenix, Arizona, and back, and from Oct. 1 to 4, we took part in the Free to Be Unschooling Conference in Phoenix. The drive there went by way of Chicago, Denver and the Four Corners, and the drive back took us through Texas and New Orleans.

Well, for a short roundup of some of my favorite takeaways from the conference itself, check out a column I wrote for our local newspaper, called Unschooling: What’s in your toolbox? I’d like to blog more here about this, the conceptual side of unschooling, when I get time, but that’s a good start.

By far the best part about Free to Be was just getting to hang out in person with people we’d known online for years. I really hate how we don’t have many unschooling friends locally, at least not ones we get to spend any kind of time with. If I could have my ladies over once a week and Sarah could have her friends visit… wow.

In good news, we’re seriously planning some mid-year meetups, because these kids miss each other like crazy, even with emails.

We visited the Four Corners Monument, ostensibly where the states of Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado meet, but really entirely in New Mexico, as Sarah learned in her book from last month, "Maphead."

We visited the Four Corners Monument, ostensibly where the states of Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado meet, but really entirely in New Mexico, as Sarah learned in her book from last month, “Maphead.”

At the Museum of Nature and Science in Denver, Colorado, Sarah made a prehistoric pig friend.

At the Museum of Nature and Science in Denver, Colorado, Sarah made a prehistoric pig friend.

Sarah and Beacon found a Spare-Ah and a Bonus Beacon at the Chicago Bean.

Sarah and Beacon found a Spare-Ah and a Bonus Beacon at the Chicago Bean.

Places, projects and odds and ends from our road trip

So, besides the conference itself, we had a huge vacation to, you know, everywhere. Some highlights:

  • Chicago: We saw the Bean, Navy Pier and a cool comic store. Also two stadiums. (Stadia?)
  • Denver: We went to the Museum of Science and Nature, saw two more stadiums and hung out in the outdoor mall.
  • Four Corners: Sarah and Chris had read about the Four Corners Monument in Ken Jennings’ Maphead, and of course Sarah wanted to see it.
  • Fish and butterflies: With Dan’s parents, who live in Arizona and who we luckily got to spend some time with, we visited the Sea Life Aquarium and Butterfly Wonderland, as well as the San Xavier del Bac Mission outside Tucson.
  • Texas: It’s big. We got to stay the night with friends, and we saw the Astros’ stadium. (See a theme?)
  • New Orleans: We went to the Riverwalk and, as a huge highlight of the trip, the National World War II Museum, which deserves its own post for sure. (This was a recommendation of a reader, so THANK YOU!)
  • The South: While driving outside Birmingham and Selma, we talked about the Civil Rights movement and Martin Luther King Jr. Then we went to Atlanta, entirely so that I could see the CDC headquarters.
  • Washi tape: At Free to Be, I went to a workshop on decorating notebooks and planners with Washi tape. I showed Sarah and Dan, and then we bought a lot of Washi tape, and we stuck it to everything conceivable, a project which continues now that we’re home.
  • Podcasts: We mixed up our on-the-road audio, but a big part of it included some neat podcasts, everything from Hardcore History to Stuff You Missed in History Class to Stuff to Blow Your Mind to Stuff You Should Know… they were amazing.
We took an hourlong detour into Atlanta so I could get my picture taken in front of the CDC headquarters, in the rain, on a Saturday night. This was basically a bucket-list item for me; I hope to work for the CDC some day.

We took an hourlong detour into Atlanta so I could get my picture taken in front of the CDC headquarters, in the rain, on a Saturday night. This was basically a bucket-list item for me; I hope to work for the CDC some day.

Books

Disclosure: This post has some affiliate links. I only link to things we legitimately use and recommend, so if you see such a link, itโ€™s because we really do believe in the book or item!

This month, Sarah finished two huge books she’d spent a couple months each on!

You can read more about both of the first two in last month’s roundup.

Sarah (complete with airbrush tattoo) made friends with this Gray Cracker butterfly at Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Sarah (complete with airbrush tattoo) made friends with this Gray Cracker butterfly at Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Movies and TV

  • The Martian – Dan and I had read the book; Sarah and Chris had not. We all liked the movie, though!
  • The I.T. Crowd
  • We Bare Bears
  • Numb3rs
  • The Breakfast Club – Sarah and her crew watched this late one night while eating pizza in the teen lounge at Free to Be. Can you think of a more stereotypically teen thing?
We went to both the Sea Life aquarium and a butterfly garden with Dan's parents, Paul and JoAnne, in Phoenix. Oh, also, the penguin's name is Phoenix.

We went to both the Sea Life aquarium and a butterfly garden with Dan’s parents, Paul and JoAnne, in Phoenix. Oh, also, the penguin’s name is Phoenix.

Video, board and card games

In amazing serendipity, our drive home from Free to Be took us through the Texas town where Sarah's friends Cam and Liv (and my friend Rachel, and her husband, Josh) live. So we spent the night, and Sarah and Cam played Mortal Kombat until 8 a.m.

In amazing serendipity, our drive home from Free to Be took us through the Texas town where Sarah’s friends Cam and Liv (and my friend Rachel, and her husband, Josh) live. So we spent the night, and Sarah and Cam played Mortal Kombat until 8 a.m.

Places, projects and odds and ends from non-trip times

The funny thing is, we actually did more this month besides the trip than we do in a lot of months.

  • Theater: We saw a stage play of Dracula that featured both a coworker of Dan’s and a longtime friend of mine, and then on Halloween, we went to see a “Shakespeare in the Barn” production of Macbeth put on amazingly well by local arts group Orangemite Studios. THAT starred, as the three witches, three women who taught English at my high school. It was epic.
  • Music: My high school holds a band show for local noncompetitive marching bands every year, and this year’s was on Halloween. I try to go every fall.
  • 4-H: Sarah and her club took their alpacas to visit the residents at the Margaret E. Moul Home, a residence for people with disabilities in our neighborhood. That was such an amazing experience. (Not for the alpacas, though, to be honest. They were pretty unhappy with the whole deal.) For her Wildlife Watchers club, Sarah put together an awesome presentation on bats.

So what’s new with your family this month? Drop me a comment! I love hearing from all my “blog friends!”

4 thoughts on “Unschooling: Our October 2015 and Free to Be adventures

  1. What a fabulous month and a fantastic collection of resources – thank you so much for sharing it all with us again!

    I had a very similar reaction to Joyce Fetterol’s opening question when I saw her speak an unschooling conference here in England. (I was inspired to write a post about the unschooling toolbox – http://www.navigatingbyjoy.com/2013/08/30/make-your-own-unschooling-toolbox/). I love the article you wrote.

    What a gorgeous pic of you and Sarah at the Four Corners Monument. You look so alike!

  2. Wow! What a month of learning and fun! I always love field trips and trip-trips. Museums and sites are my fav way of learning. You are tops in that kind of learning.

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