Museum of the Bible Homeschool Field Trip

The Museum of The Bible Field Trip

Washington, D.C.’s newest museum is the Museum of the Bible. This museum is not just for those who are religious or biblical enthusiasts; it’s also for people of all ages who love knowledge, history, and fascinating stories. My family and I loved our experience and first visit so much we were there for six hours.

I wanted to take my daughters so they would have a better understanding of the tangibility of the Bible. A lot of faith and love for God is abstract for children, but looking at religious history helps provide them with a better understand of God’s omnipotence.

The museum is perfect for people from all ages and backgrounds. It is also one of the most beautiful museums to visit in person. The technology advances the developers used makes it a one-of-a-kind experience because visitors can interact with some exhibits, and their writings, voice, picture, etc., will become a part of the exhibit. So, if you’re ever in the Washington, D.C. area, please set aside time to visit the Museum of the Bible in person for yourself.

Museum of the Bible – 400 4th St SW, Washington, DC 20024FAMILY-FRIENDLY TRIP TO The Museum of the Bible

10 Family-friendly Museum of The Bible Features(Click on the video below to view pictures from the field trip.)

1. Interactive Exhibits

2. Children’s Play Area

3. Restaurant that serves food from the Middle East

4. A paid virtual reality ride

5. High tech displays

6. Elevator Access to each floor

7. Movies in High Definition

8. Theatrical theater exhibits

9. Colorful art and artifacts

10. History of how the Bible has impacted the world.

When visiting be sure to take comfortable shoes because you will do a ton of walking. There will never be a dull moment, so plan to spend a large portion of your day there. In fact, the museum has six floors and a rooftop. Learning about the Bible in the museum is truly a beautiful experience. The museum also had homeschoolers in mind and created a Bible curriculum that can be purchased on their website.

Click Here to watch our video from our homeschool family field trip.

Reader QuestionWhat would you most want to see in person at the Museum of the Bible?

Did you enjoy this post? If so, check out Visit Shenandoah Valley’s Skyline Drive.

Experiential Learning

Growing up I remember hands-on learning as something that was incredibly valuable to me.  I liked to be active, on the go and busy. Now as a parent I am seeing the value in slowing down, and can truly appreciate the effort my parents went to when taking us out and about!

In the very early stages of schooling still with our preschooler, we are looking for ways to engage our child in learning while still sparking her need for play and imagination.  Over the summer she participated in three days of “Critter Camp” at the local nature center; she continues to explore and learn more about nature and asks to take hikes, read nature books, and visit outdoor learning spaces. Our library hosted a speaker who is a homeschool senior and advocate for honeybee education, preservation, and hobbyist beekeeping. They had hands-on models of bees, large posters of their environment and needs, as well as how we need them for our eco-system, and they answered questions about bees. Due to this learning opportunity, potentially in the spring we will add a beehive to our little homestead.

Recently another nature center in our area sponsored a “Meet the Raptor” program and specifically had a session for younger children.

Rachel the Peregrine falcon and Gonzo the turkey vulture were the guests of honor. I think this visit was perhaps more exciting for Daddy than anyone else. Although our shy preschooler didn’t ask questions, she watched and listened intently. After we left she began to process the experience and ask more about raptors.

As we try to implement experiences and hands-on learning, I am hopeful that it leads to organic growth of interests in our children. After taking our oldest to baby and parent music classes since she was an infant, she has a love of music and desire to learn how to play, sing, and enjoy music in our daily lives. I am curious to see what other types of adventures we can take.

I would love suggestions from others on what their early learners enjoy doing that is experiential and hands-on.

Exploring Kansas

In August we had the opportunity to take a day trip across the state of Kansas with my best friend from college and her friend from New Zealand. We hadn’t really started up the school year yet, so it was a pre-school year field trip.

What were we thinking?!?

The pink lines represent our route. We drove 814 miles (round trip) in less than 24 hours!

We started out from the Kansas City area bright and early and headed west. We made it to Wilson Lake State park in time for a picnic lunch. After lunch we drove north to Lucas, Kansas, to see S.P. Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden, which is not even remotely what it sounds like.

The Garden of Eden makes for a fascinating study of history and American folk art. The complex was by Samuel Perry Dinsmoor, a veteran of the U.S. Civil War, in the early 1900s. Central Kansas is largely prairie land that has been transformed into farms and ranches. There are precious few trees in the area. Industrious farmers and ranchers discovered that the local limestone was sturdy enough to be used in place of wooden posts for holding up their fences. The limestone is locally known as post rock limestone. Dinsmoor used this local limestone to build himself a two-story log cabin style home in the middle of town. Between the years of 1907 and 1928, he created his home, decorated his garden, and built a mausoleum that would be his final resting place.

The exterior of the “log cabin” home and part of the sculpture garden.

His sculpture garden was made with cement. In his self-published guide to his property, Dinsmoor said, “The porches, side walks, fences, strawberry and flower beds, fish pool, grape-arbor, three U. S. flags, Adam and Eve, the devil, coffin, jug, visitors’ dining hall, labor crucified, two bird and animal cages, and wash house are all made with cement. Up to this date, July 1, 1927, over 113 tons, or 2,273 sacks of cement has been used. The Garden of Eden is on the west; the front, or north represents present day civilization. There are fifteen cement trees from 30 to 40 feet tall. On trees, mausoleum, cages and dining hall are forty-eight electric lights. The most unique home, for living or dead, on earth.”

Here are some more detailed photos of the sculpture garden.

Every four-year-old needs a photo in front of a cement flag with her two stuffed kitties and her new best friend from New Zealand.

Cement sculpture of a Civil War soldier

Cement deer with real deer antlers

The sign for the Garden of Eden, also made of cement.

Adam and Eve stand below the Garden of Eden sign. The snake (behind Eve) is also a grape arbor.

This figure was sculpted so Dinsmoor’s wife could see it out the basement kitchen window, to keep her company while he was out working on the sculpture garden.

The strawberry bed

The top of the mausoleum

After thoroughly exploring the Garden of Eden, we got back on the road and headed farther west, in search of the Monument Rocks.

Monument Rocks are roughly 70 feet tall and formed out of Niobrara chalk. They are on privately owned ranch land, but the owners allow visitors to explore the formations. We had fun exploring the various formations, looking for fossils in the chalk, and taking in the majesty of nature.

This formation is called “The Eye of the Needle.”

One of the shorter spots, with a four-year-old for scale

Panorama of the Monument Rocks

Standing in the doorway to adventure

Our Wildflower Pilgrimage Experience

The Large-Flowered Trillium starts out white, then ages to a beautiful light pink. I love the petals’ “ruffles.”

Through the years, our family has taken many guided tours, mostly in national parks. We always learn something new, and it’s a great way to get out of doors on a field trip. This year we were following the Apologia “Flying Creatures” curriculum, and my kids’ assignments included completing the Bird, Insect, and Wildflower Pathfinder honors. So, when a friend suggested attending the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in the Great Smoky Mountains, we jumped on it!

The title “Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage” is something of a misnomer only because it doesn’t just cover wildflowers. Experts in ornithology, entomology, biology, forestry, ecology, and herpetology join botanists. Artists and photographers are included to teach nature journaling and photography classes. Park rangers and managers round out the experienced staff.

Yellow Trillium were everywhere in the park. it was beautiful!

We chose to focus on wildflowers, birds and nature journaling, though we were sad that the salamander tour filled up so fast! I spoke with a birder who had attended the salamander walk, and he reported that they had seen 11 species of salamander in one morning!

My kids thoroughly enjoyed the wildflower walk, and having an easy-to-use wildflower guide with clear pictures was exceptionally helpful! This particular book is organized according to when flowers bloom, so the smaller kids only had to flip through a small section of the book, rather than the whole thing, to successfully find a match to what they were viewing along the trails. (Most guides are organized according to flower color.) All together, we identified more than 40 wildflowers or flowering bushes/trees.

The only May-apple blossom we found: Our guide had been searching for one in vain until our tour — we felt privileged!

Attending a nature journaling class gave us an opportunity to sit in the shade and be creative. It was a perfect afternoon activity when the sun was hot and the kids were worn out from walking. The kids learned how to embellish their pages with stamps, fancy writing, and even pop-ups.

In the fall of 2016, fires devastated Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains, so the forests’ response to the fires was of particular interest to many on the tours this spring. We were delighted with a spectacular wildflower display; apparently the destruction of brush and undergrowth in the forest allowed sunlight to reach more deeply into the forest, and some flowers produce more after a fire anyway. God provides for the smallest detail in His creation. It was a beautiful spiritual lesson and reminder of grace and protection.

It was on our birding tour that I discovered my 10-year-old son needed glasses… Oops!

The kids realized out on the trail why we have been listening to recordings of bird songs: it’s often easier to hear the bird and then find what you know you’re looking for! Completing the Pathfinder honor was a breeze, with help from a guide. With help, we identified 18 birds by sight and an additional six by sound only. Some of these birds my kids were familiar with, like the brown-headed cowbird, red-bellied woodpecker, American robin, and downy woodpecker. But, others were brand new to them, such as the golden-crowned kinglet, yellow-throated warbler, white-breasted nuthatch, northern parula, ovenbird, black and white warbler, black-throated green warbler,and blue-gray gnatcatcher. Along the way we also identified more wildflowers: white-fringed phacelia, trout lilies,and spring beauties.

Our final guided tour was presided over by a Native American; she taught the wild edibles class. Her personal experience was invaluable for the kids to hear, and they appreciated the Native American items she brought, such as beads, porcupine quills, and clothing. We also learned that it’s important not to boil the stinkbugs with the staghorn sumac for tea! 🙂

In the wild edibles class, we learned that squaw root is often the first thing bears eat in the spring. It works as a colon stimulant.

A sick child and car troubles precluded us from attending our last two guided tours, but I felt like the entire excursion was definitely worth the trip and expenses. There is no substitute for an experienced guide along to help the kids positively identify plants and animals in the wild. The more exposure the kids get to these things, the more those plants and animals become like “friends” every time the kids find them. When we returned home, the first thing my kids did was to take a jaunt through our local woods, searching for trillium and lady slippers. That’s my definition of success!

Tips for Taking a Guided Tour with Young Kids:

  1. Be prepared for long walks. Check the printed guide and ask about the terrain. Some walks are labeled “easy” or “along a path”; on those walks a jogging stroller might be something useful for very small children. (But ask first!)
  2. Pack a small, lightweight backpack for every child. Include water bottle, rain poncho/jacket, hat, lightweight pocket guides or laminated fold-out guides, journal or small pad of paper, pencil, binoculars if birding, a magnifying glass (lightweight), and a quiet snack.
  3. In your backpack, a roll of toilet paper and baggies might be very useful for small bladders and those kids who drink all of their water in the first half-hour!
  4. Dress appropriately for the weather, and wear good walking/hiking shoes.
  5. Prior to the trip, it might be helpful to practice walking along a trail looking for flowers and listening for birds. Quietly walking and being observant is a skill, not a natural trait for most children. Preparing them ahead of time for what is expected helps!
  6. Birding tours are probably best suited to older children. My younger kids enjoyed the wildflower tour and the nature journaling class the most. Wildflowers don’t fly or run away, and they are easier to spot!
  7. If you are wanting pictures of the flowers you spot, you probably should tote along an actual camera. It’s difficult to steady and zoom in with a phone camera.

    Catesby’s trillium is considered a rare species, limited to the Southern Appalachians. My kids found this one near our home.

    Searching for lady slippers and trillium close to home

    A pink lady slipper found near home after the trip

    Wild geranium was in full bloom during our late-April excursion to the Smokies.

    The crested dwarf iris provided a lovely complement flower to the yellow trilliums along the roadsides.

    A Jack-in-the-pulpit was a fun find along a river.

1 Fish, 2 Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

Do you like fish? How about those adorable penguins? Maybe it is the sharks that intrigue you. For me it’s the octopus! If you or any of your kids are big fans of the underwater, visiting an aquarium should be on your bucket list.

You may not be aware that there are nearly 115 aquariums in the U.S. That means that if you live inside the U.S. or Guam, it is likely that there is an aquarium somewhere near you. My children had the privilege for the beginning six years of their life to grow up near the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. We spent so much time there, in fact, that my daughter referred to it as “her aquarium.” We have since moved and find ourselves north of Knoxville in Tennessee. Yet again, we are near an aquarium, this time Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.

A couple of weeks ago we spent part of our vacation at Ripley’s Aquarium. This was our third visit. It was great, never disappointing. Each aquarium has its draw, its niche’, its audience. This particular aquarium is really great with the younger crowd, while still intriguing the rest of the family.

While Ripley’s Aquarium cannot compare in sheer volume to the Tennessee Aquarium, it doesn’t let you down. Ripley’s aquarium has a lot of interactive displays that are purposefully placed right at a kid’s level, with lots of bright colors and fascinating facts. At the entrance you are met with a huge round fish tank, flanked by a gigantic sea turtle skeleton hanging from the ceiling — pretty impressive, but just the beginning. Around every corner there is a new adventure area with facts about living environments, food preferences, camouflage, and temperaments.

One really cool element of this aquarium is that they give you a look inside…inside the filtration system, that is. Through a large window you can view the large filters and giant protein skimmer. Tours of the filtration system are available via their Behind the Scenes pass. However, it is pretty cool to look down over those giant tanks and skimmers.

Around the corner is one of the two most impressive parts of the aquarium, Shark Lagoon. I could stand here all day! There are sand tigers, sawfish (sawtooth sharks), shovelhead sharks, a giant sea turtle and more. The cool part is that you see it from the top! You get to see that shark fin break the surface and ominously skim through the water. We were there during feeding time for the sharks, and that was really fascinating to see.

We rounded the bend from there to find that they had added a children’s play area, with climbing and slides and tunnels, right in the center of the aquarium for the little ones to get their energy out. My three-year-old enjoyed the reprieve from standing and staring at fish. He ran and whooped and slid for five minutes, after which we moved on down the ramp and on to the piranhas.

We saw fish and frogs and penguins and sharks and eels. The eels I like best are the garden eels. They look like they are planted there in the sand, and all around them are tiny shrimp floating in the water. When one floats near, the eel will grab in and gulp it down. I think it’s fascinating.

Of course the most well-known feature of the Ripley’s aquarium is seeing Shark Lagoon through the underwater acrylic tunnel travelling on a 340-foot glide path. There are sharks literally lounging and cruising right above your heads.

I almost forgot that there is the “touch bay,” with horseshoe crabs. They have blue blood, by the way. In the same area is a pool where you can touch jellyfish.

Ripley’s has an area where there are changing exhibits. Right now it is a very interesting display about Pearl Harbor, complete with real news footage and audio recordings and a life-sized figure of Roosevelt addressing the nation (for those history buffs out there).

So all this to say, “Go visit some fish! Go find an aquarium!” After all, it is inside, out of the icky weather, and has tons of educational insights.

Now for the homeschool stuff! Most aquariums offer a discount for homeschool students. Ripley’s is $10.99 per family member, and you have to bring proof of your homeschool status.

On their website they have offers for more educational opportunities with Labs and Behind the Scenes tours. Here is the link to Wikipedia’s list of aquariums in the U.S. Hopefully one is just around the corner from you.