Homeschooling, Summer Edition: The Great Smoky Mountains

This week was a departure – in two ways! We “traveled” to the Great Smoky Mountains and learned about much of the flora and fauna and traditions of the area; and it was also a departure from our normal version of homeschooling. This week we skipped table work and did more exploring and reading on our own.

I chose the Great Smoky Mountain area because pre-COVID, we were planning a trip to the National Park, Gatlinburg, Dollywood – it was going to be a whole big thing, our first big trip as a family, first theme park for Wyatt. However, it is now on hold for a bit. And well, now we know a bit more about the area for when we do go!

We spent a day talking about the National Parks, park rangers, and specifically Great Smoky Mountain NP. We talked about preparing for a hike, and I gathered a bunch of materials for Wyatt to choose from to pack his own adventure bag. He chose to pack all of it, and to eat his snacks immediately. I guess he is not a minimalist and does not believe in traveling light. This was also the first challenge in the Wild Explorers Club that I signed Wyatt up for. We are working on the first badge, the Wolf Badge. It worked out nicely!

Then we talked about log cabin homes and Davy Crockett, the Native American tribes that lived there (we were going to make a Cherokee pinch pot but never got around to it – another time), and watched a video of the synchronous firefly event – something I would love to see one day! We just learned about fireflies last week so this was sort of fun to revisit again. We had a day spent on Folk music, and then finally learning about salamanders, the Smoky Mountains are known as the salamander capital of the world! We read the Salamander Room, talked about salamanders, chose our own favorite animal and drew “rooms” for them (fox for me, frog for Wyatt), and finally today as a surprise to Wyatt, we are adding a new member to our family – a leopard gecko! Not quite the same thing but after reading about different types of small pets a leopard gecko sounds like a good fit for our family. We will set up the enclosure today and talk about setting up the room for a gecko, then add in our new friend!

Books Used:

(Contains Amazon Affiliate links)

All Aboard National Parks || The Salamander Room || National Parks of the USA || Great Smoky Mountains National Park (I loved Ranger Rick as a kid!)

A few links to videos we watched and websites I used:

Synchronous Fireflies

Storytime at the Met – The Salamander Room

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Cherokee Pinch Pot

Mountain Living

Great Smoky Mountains National Park as a Classroom

And then for all of our music explorations be sure to check out my Exploring Folk Music post!

As you can see, it is easy to get lost in the beauty and richness of the Smokies – even virtually!


15 thoughts on “Homeschooling, Summer Edition: The Great Smoky Mountains

  1. So do you buy all this stuff for each unit you do? It is very impressive! I would have eaten my snacks first too. I would never make it as a survivalist.

    I always love how you include all the links to the books and products you use.

    Let us know how it goes with the geko!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I do buy a few things usually. For this unit, I already owned all the books except the Great Smoky Mountains book and The Salamander Room. I already had the instruments, and the information this time was all free so yay! We are doing a two week unit about France next and I bought three books and a 200 page printable curriculum for $4.99. So some weeks I buy more, others I buy less. It depends and I try to balance it all out through the month. Since we are not going anywhere this is basically the money I would have spent on gas, Starbucks, and eating out lolol..actually less which is sad!!

      Yeah those snacks didn’t even make it into the bag. Lol. I don’t blame him either.

      And I will! I’m so excited!!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I was just telling my son about all the cool stuff you do and how into it you get. I said “I’m going to have to do this for your school year. I’m really going to get into it this year and channel Erin.” He says “Erin is your spirit animal.” lol.

        I told him “Brace yourself — if I do this like Erin, you are sooooo going to be doing more work this year.”

        His eyes got a bit big at that comment. I think he regrets I found your blog. Hahahahaha!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. LOL that is hilarious!!!!! I’ve never been anyone’s spirit animal before. That I know of at least. LOL. It sounds like you do lots of fun things at your place already. πŸ™‚ And I just read another book that you might want to add to your list.. I’ll post about it next week. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

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  3. I am an west Tennessee girl who went to college at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. The Smoky Mountains were a wonderful retreat from school and studying. But I haven’t been back in probably 30 years. Someday.

    I am going to be working with my 4 year old granddaughter since she is unable to go to daycare right now. Appreciate that you shared your books and lesson ideas. When I started my blog, I envisioned sharing lesson plans regularly but haven’t done much of that at all. Maybe I will try to return to that idea.

    Yay for traveling to the Smokies. Hope you get to go IRL very soon.


    1. I can only imagine how wonderful it would have been to be able to escape to the Smokies when you needed a break! I am a mountains and woods girl. πŸ™‚

      I would be interested in what you do with your granddaughter! We all need ideas during this time to keep these kids busy and their brains stimulated!

      Thank you – me too! πŸ™‚


  4. Pingback: These are a few of my favorite things..this year – Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs..

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