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!