When you unplug and get your kids out of the house to play, you strengthen their bodies and spirits, but when you get out to learn as well as play, that strengthens their minds! The following resources and outdoor activities benefit distance and homeschooled learners in a variety of ways. First, they get to observe what’s around where they live and appreciate the land, especially who (or what!) was here before them. Second, they get a chance to understand the topography and interact with wildlife. Finally, they have a chance to view extracurricular outdoor activities with a completely different perspective. Big thanks to some lovely area homeschooling mommas and one extremely passionate elementary school teacher for the suggestions!
899 Schwager Dr.
Located on Hoffman Field, this course is open to the public and kids can use regular frisbees too. This activity could be their physical education for the day, enhance their mapping skills, help them learn angles and forces, and is good practice for adding up scores! The course sits atop a drumlin (glacial hill) and is moderately wooded– a perfect educational opportunity to teach them about glaciers and help them identify the types of trees around the course.
Photo by: Robbie Elsbury Jr. of Royal Purple News
2. Hike Lone Tree Bluff
Parking off Esterly Rd.
As the highest point in Walworth County, this .5mi hike up 89 steps and over a 1/4mi trail to the overlook provides kids a great physical activity/feat, perspective of the glacial land they live on, and an opportunity to learn more about the Kettle Moraine State Forest and the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
Photo courtesy of WI DNR
3. Meander the trail from Brewery Hill Park to Ray Trost Nature Preserve
W. North St.
First and foremost, this stretch of trail follows Whitewater Creek which offers kids a chance to do wildlife/creek study. Second, it’s a perfect outing for tree and wild flower identification. Also, Brewery Hill Park houses the Rotary Skate Park that can help kids learn about forces in motion and ramps.
242 S Prince St.
Established in 2015, this garden helps kids learn about healthy eating, where their food comes from and lets them explore the natural world.
Photo courtesy of Lincoln Elementary School
243 N Prince St.
This 145yr old historic landmark provides a wonderful opportunity to teach kids, not only about UW-Whitewater and college in general but also what schools were like in the past. They can discuss what a school day may have been like and compare that to their school day.
Photo courtesy of Travel Wisconsin
402 W Main St.
Starting at the Birge Fountain in Flat Iron Park, this 1.7mi walk will teach kids about the history of Whitewater, the variety of architecture, and would even be an opportunity to allow kids to practice 3D drawing of their favorite building. Take this a step further and purchase the book Whitewater from the Discover Whitewater office and have your kids match up old photographs in the book with the current buildings.
With a population of less than 1,000, Cold Spring in Jefferson County offers a few historic routes to drive down with your kids to learn tree identification and observe/draw the rural landscapes. For any history buff kids, head over to the Cold Spring Historical Marker and teach the kids about Cold Spring’s connection to Abe Lincoln!
Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Historical Markers
8. Tour of Whitewater’s Community Services
First, walk or drive around Whitewater (or your home town) and have the kids identify businesses or organizations that serve the community: Wastewater Utility Plant, Police Station, Fire Station, the Irvin L Young Memorial Public Library (take advantage of their craft kits to do crafts outside!), the local banks, and the grocery store. Then, ask them to explain how each one of these community services benefits Whitewater as a whole!
Image courtesy of Whitewater Fire Department
288 S. Indian Mounds Parkway
This sacred land is home to one of the largest collections of effigy mounds in the country. It’s a perfect opportunity to teach kids about the Native Americans who inhabited the land prior to us. They could also draw the effigy mounds and what artifacts may be buried there or interpret the information on the signs throughout the Mounds.
Print off @raisinglittleshoots Exploring Nature With Children. This full-year curriculum offers ideas for each season and is centered around nature study. With this inspiration, take the kids out to visit the Bark River Rd. wetlands, Natureland Park, the Ice Age Trail, Whitewater Lake Beach, or UWW Nature Preserve and study what Exploring Nature with Children suggests!
Photo courtesy of Raising Little Shoots
Now get out and explore! The world awaits.