Thursday, January 26, 2017

Museum Homeschooling Series #2: The Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium

Dubuque, Iowa is my hometown, and it is also host to the largest, truly incredible museum on the Mississippi River and the history of the peoples who have inhabited the area. In a single visit, you can do everything from petting a freshwater sting ray, to trying your hand at shaving roof shingles, to dreamily meandering through the aquarium section.

Our first study unit (main lesson block) of the year was local and U.S. history. I planned the museum visit as a part of this block. Native peoples, the land, the water and pioneers were all on the agenda, and I knew we would encounter them here, as well as the children's favorite alligator tank. What I did not know, was that the museum I had last visited a few years ago, was also constantly expanding and changing, adding ever new places to explore and chapters in the earth's history. This museum, in particular, makes it very easy to keep curiosity alive while exploring and having fun. The boys could be looking at arrow heads while I read aloud to them about Native American's respect for animals and all of life. They could stick their head in a turtle while I read the quotes about the mighty river and its connection to all. We had quite a visit.

Resources of the Mississippi (much depleted): Button-making clam shells:
Early European settlers' cabin:
The walkway between the cabin and a main building; there used to be a wigwam here...
Soil erosion lesson;
This goes nicely with Native American stories in a 3rd grade Waldorf curriculum, and animal stories in 4th grade.

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