Many school systems across the country are gearing up for a new school year. For many families, this means waiting 8 months or more until they can visit Walt Disney World again when school is not in session. While some families do visit during a long weekend, holiday break or spring break, many don’t try to visit this magical spot for fear of missing too much school.
Our family seems to be the opposite! We try to go when school is in session! Why? Crowds are lower, temperatures are cooler and prices are cheaper. We have taken our oldest son out of school to visit Walt Disney World and Disneyland 3 times now. All three times we met with the principal as soon as we could to share our plans, dates and “curriculum!” We assured him that our son would complete any classwork the teacher sent and we would complete the assignments we created for him.
Being a former teacher made it easier for me to see the value in a Disney vacation. There are so many teachable moments during a vacation to the Happiest Place on Earth! To begin, I searched for “Alabama (or enter your state here) State Course of Study 3rd (or grade your child is in) Grade.” I printed the entire Course of Study for math, language, science and social studies. I went through all of the documents highlighting what objectives would be met while at WDW and sometimes listing exact examples. (Example: Social Studies, 3rd Grade, “Identify components of various ecosystems.” can be met through Living With the Land at Epcot.) I then presented all 4 Course of Studies to the principal showing how our son would gain so many educational experiences at Walt Disney World. Really, how could he argue with me?!?
Along with the presented Course of Study documents, we shared the daily journal he would be keeping, the “ABC” scavenger hunt he would do and the country reports at the World Showcase. In the journal, he wrote daily about the events of the day, wrote three things he learned in each park, drew a picture of his “most favorite” thing, kept a weather log, and collected autographs, maps and ticket stubs.
The ABC scavenger hunt was a simple three ring binder with 26 sheet protector sleeves- one for each letter of the alphabet. As we found items for each letter, we slipped it into the appropriate sleeve. We took pictures for several letters and added the photograph once we returned home. We were surprisingly able to find at least one thing for each letter of the alphabet!
How do you bring “school” along on your Disney vacations? If you need suggestions, you can always find more ideas at my friend Jodi’s blog: Magical Mouse Schoolhouse! I’d love to hear your ideas!