Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal - A TOS Schoolhouse Crew Review

Review Crew
In April I learned that Apologia Educational Ministries was again on the schedule with a product for the Schoolhouse Review Crew. I love Apologia! They have such great products. I've never met an Apologia product I didn't like!
Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review

The product this time was the Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal, and in late April I learned that I had been chosen to be one of the reviewers.
Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review

This is an easy product to get excited about! It is the size of a spiral notebook, with super sturdy front and back covers. It is on a spiral--seems to be a plastic spiral. Between the covers are 62 sturdy pages that do not bleed through when you doodle, draw, write, and record on them. This is a book made for recording your journeys through art, drawings and photographs.

The journal is broken into many sections:
I immediately thumbed through the entire beautiful book before doing anything else! After enjoying the entire colorful display of each section, I settled down to read "Preparing for a Field Trip" and "Field Trip Ideas". These sections really were inspiring, giving me ideas I really hadn't considered for how to use this journal. Between this information and some chats with some other folks using the journal, I began to see ways this journal could be used to keep track of events in my son's life in Boy Scouts and Civil Air Patrol, as well as home school field trips. I was wishing I had had this journal when my girls were in 4-H! Oh, the field trips we used to take with our 4-H group -- the llama farm, the wildlife rescue place, the exotic animal veterinary and farm, berry picking, ice skating, County Fair... the list was endless.

My poor son had asked to go to the zoo a long time ago, and I never got around to it. I began to try to figure out when we would go. But then I began to get other ideas that would work for us. One example is that we needed to visit some spots to help my son decide on some community service organization to do some work for. In my state, public school kids are required to "donate" 75 hours of "volunteer" work (between 7th-12th grade) to graduate. ["Volunteer", by its very definition, means not required, done not out of compulsion but out of a desire to serve others. "Required" hours are therefore not "volunteer" hours, but I digress...]

As homeschoolers, we are not required to serve these mandatory hours of community service, however there are some requirements my son needs to fulfill for a Boy Scout merit badge, so I wanted to visit some organizations for my son to consider for his community service hours.

We live very close to an animal shelter, so our first field trip I was going to record was to this animal shelter.  What was I thinking? We went there, and it went over like a lead balloon. Was I trying to torture my child? (No.) The dogs either looked like they had been beaten and mistreated, poster child for animal rescue posters, or like they had been bred for fighting and wanted to dissect us and chew on our bones. So we went to the other sections, and it was, "You brought me here and you aren't even going to let me go home with something?" What was I thinking? ::sigh::

So, now my son was annoyed. ::sigh:: Well, I had made plans to swing by the wildlife rescue place as well (2nd Chance Wildlife Rescue) to donate some old blankets that I needed to get rid of and that I knew they could use. When my girls were in their teens, 2nd Chance used to welcome us in to see their facility, visit with the resident rescued 'possum, and hand feed the red-headed woodpecker that lived in the cedar out front. Now, granted, that was ten years ago, but the memories are still fresh in my brain.

So we drove down a long residential road to a long gravel road, which ended in an unpretentious farm house with barn and out buildings. We parked and walked up to the door. "Closed" said the sign on the screen door, but someone was inside. "I see that you're closed," I said, "but could I just make a quick donation?" That kind of talk usually opens doors. I was even holding a piece of currency to donate.

"Oh! Does the sign say closed? We're open! I must have forgotten to flip it. Thanks for pointing it out. Come on in." So I presented the blankets and the financial donation, but we got no further than the front desk. "Oh, our back rooms are for employees only. We can't let you back there." I even explained that we were trying to look at places for my son to do community service hours, but by now he was already saying in my ear, "No, Mom. Let's just leave. NOW!"  Again, ::sigh::

So the review period was sliding by, and I was still having difficulty settling on some field trips we could take that I could journal about in my Field Trip Journal. In the meantime, I began coloring the US Map of places my Student has gone. I started by writing some of the two-letter abbreviations down and coloring in states Miner has been to. Epic fail. Mom colors in Nevada and marks it Arizona and colors it in. Out came the "White Out" to rescue me. So my Geography isn't perfect. I couldn't even remember all the two-letter abbreviations. I mis-marked several more states while working on this project; the White Out will not be losing its job in my lifetime. Still waiting for some corrections.

So the book sat, with the US Map partially colored and marked, while I brainstormed about field trips and went on with my busy life. Then my daughter saw the Field Trip Journal. Now she wants my Field Trip Journal when I am done with the review. "If I hadn't journaled my trip to Europe, I wouldn't remember most of what we did!" That trip was in 2006!

My son went on a camping trip with his Boy Scout Troop, but I didn't go with him. He's not interested in doing the journaling, and he didn't take any photographs. Finally we did some Journal-worthy activities. The first was our trip to Baltimore, MD. It started as a visit to the orthodontist (who is at the UM School of Dentistry, which I did not photograph). From there I needed to go to a Boy Scout Shop. There was one nearby, so I used my iPhone to help me find it. We ended up going through a pretty sketchy couple of blocks on the way there (have you heard how dangerous Baltimore is right now with one murder a day?). We finally found the Boy Scout Counsel, only to find the Scout store was across the street.

At the Counsel building there was a great bronze statue of a Boy Scout - photo of my Scout with this statue.

So, we visited the Baltimore Scout Shop.

and we saw a cool stone house across the street.
Then we went through crazy city streets, between way-tall buildings, to get home. I'm still journaling about this trip.

I'm still journaling about this trip. It's been awhile since I moved photos from my phone to a jump drive to download an print at the local CVS.
All these city streets left me in sore need of the open countryside.

Next Miner wanted to go strawberry picking at a local pick-your-own farm, so we went strawberry picking.

Next trip, Miner's dad and I took him to the Maryland Wing of the Civil Air Patrol in Woodstock, MD to get some dress blues. Unimpressive to look at, no photograph. On the way home Miner and his dad did some Geocaching (locating a Geocache).
While out in this country area we saw many crop fields and barns and such, to help me recover from those Baltimore city streets!
I think Miner's favorite trip was the trip to get his dress blues for Civil Air Patrol!
Every Apologia book seems to come with a special link code to take you to book extras. This book also has this feature. The book extras page for the Field Trip Journal are amazing! Fabulous links, and an extensive list.

This Field Trip Journal is an excellent resource to create a keepsake to help you remember your journey. There are blank pages for using your own creativity, as well as more structured pages to guide you when you're not sure how to create your page. This Field Trip Journal can be given right to your creative student, or can be used by the parent for the less creative or less engaged student.

This is not an expensive book for what it offers. I highly recommend you consider this resource to complement your homeschool portfolio for the summer or the upcoming year! If we had had it sooner we might have had journal entries for skiing, hiking, camping, summer camp, fishing, boating, and so many other activities! I really love this Field Trip Journal! If you have any questions, just let me know!

 Other members of the Review Crew also reviewed this product. To see other product reviews, please click the button below.
Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review

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