Tag Archives: camping

Learning With Boggle

During our family camping trip, my mom brought along a Boggle game, one of my favorite games but one I hadn’t played in years. Though no one played it during the trip, it made its way to my house afterward, and my son John got it out. I told him briefly how to play, and he tried it out with his cousins who were visiting. They really enjoyed it.

Boggle is made up of 16 dice that have letters instead of dots. The dice fit into a container that can be shaken, and the letters then fall in a random order. The object of the game is to make as many words (three letters or more) from the dice, using only those letters that touch each other in some way, either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. Players have three minutes to find as many words as they can. Points are earned only when a player finds a word that no other player has found.

After most of our company had left, John asked me if I would like to play — he didn’t know I used to be pretty good at the game. My mom played too, and she is more knowledgeable about words than I am, having worked crossword puzzles for years. He was in for some tough competition.

Although I still sometimes let my six-year-old win a game, we didn’t let John (13 years old) win — he had to work for every point he got. Then Cassie joined in (11 years old), and naturally, she found even fewer words. While I wasn’t sure what their reactions would be to such a challenge, I was pleasantly surprised.

Round after round, Cassie came up with no points — someone else had found every word she did. Yet still she continued to play. It wasn’t until we had played about 15 rounds over two days that she finally got some points.

John, being older, did get more points, but he never scored as high as my mom or me. But he too, continued to try.

On the last day my mom was here, my daughter Lillie, age 9, joined the game. She found even fewer words, but she kept at it, too.

These past few days of playing Boggle have turned out to be great opportunities for learning. It was good to watch as the children learned:

*New words, as my mom came up with some old English terms and words none of us had ever heard of.

*Definitions, as we questioned her words and had to look them up

*How to correctly spell certain words

*Persistence, as all three of the kids kept at the game, even though they never won a round

*Sportsmanship, as they continued to play with good attitudes

Boggle has become a favorite game for our family. Perhaps it’s even time to break out Big Boggle.  🙂

Busy Day

Yesterday, we had a very busy day. We left the house at 8:30 am, returned for about 45 minutes at 5:00 pm, then had to leave again right away, finally returning at 8:30 pm. Whew!

We started the day by taking my oldest son John to his co-op class. It lasted an hour, so during that time, the other three children and I ran errands. We made it to two stores: the grocery store and Target, and returned just in time to pick up John.

We then headed towards the far end of the county, where a new IMAX theatre just opened up. In celebration of the opening week, all of the movies were free (they even gave out free popcorn!), so we went to see Monsters vs. Aliens in 3-D on a huge screen. Not too educational, but a lot of fun.

Next, we headed back for an orthodontist consultation for my daughter Cassie, but we arrived about an hour early — enough time to run another errand. We shopped the sales at another grocery store, but didn’t get through the entire list before it was time to go, so after the appointment, we went to one more store. Part of that list was for supplies for John’s backpacking trip this weekend, so we had to finish.

We arrived home with just enough time to pack up that backpack and head out again to have it weighed-in with the other scouts. After a short meeting, we moved on to Walmart to pick up some photos for Friday, and by the time the day was done, it was after dark.

Could this be counted as a school day? For John, it could. He attended his co-op class, read his schoolbooks during the car rides and while waiting at the orthodontist, and learned how to pack for the trip. For the rest of the children, probably not. While a lot was accomplished, not too much was done in the way of learning, so we’ll make it up on Saturday. But that’s one of the best advantages of homeschooling — the flexibility of schedules to accommodate life — or whatever else may be going on.

Rattlesnake Steak

file000838868154Our camping trip in Tennessee over Memorial Day was a fun time of visiting with family members. It was also the first time I had ever eaten rattlesnake. 

On the last full day of the trip, most of the children and a few of the adults decided to take a short hike to a deeper place in the river known as the Swimming Hole. The hike involved following a path through the woods; a large group of children went on ahead and my brother, his grown son, and two of his son’s friend brought up the rear. It was on this path that my nephew nearly stepped on a rattlesnake. 

Thankfully, all the younger children had already gone by. My nephew and one of his friends went into action and quickly killed the snake. They brought it back to the campsite among the excited shouts of the kids. 

My niece’s husband, a true southern boy from Alabama, knew just what to do. Surrounded by a host of curious children, he skinned and gutted the snake. They saw the two mice it had eaten recently along with its heart and entrails. Quite nauseating to me, but great science for the kids. 

My nephew then sautéed the snake in salad dressing and put it on a grill over the campfire. When it was well-done, he cut it up and passed it around. Now I’m not an adventurous eater at all, but how often do you eat rattlesnake fresh out of the woods? Everyone took a small piece, including me. And you know, it wasn’t bad — sort of a mix between fish and chicken in flavor. Even my peanut-butter and jelly eating five-year-old gave it a try. 

Camping is always an adventure, and this trip was no exception. Next time we eat rattlesnake, though, I’d prefer it to be in a restaurant. I’d rather avoid the snakes on the path.

Family Land

streamdr5About 25 years ago, my father purchased some property in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. He had several different plans for the land, including a youth camp and a place for his retirement home. Sadly, he passed away before his dreams could be realized. We still enjoy the property, however, as a family reunion site every Memorial Day weekend.

 This year was one of our biggest gatherings yet. My mom and seven of the eight children made it, along with spouses, 26 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Some of older grandchildren went hiking while the younger ones played in the river. Some slept in the cabin while others camped in the valley. We played volleyball and soccer in the open field. We painted rocks to look like bugs and mice. We cooked hotdogs over a fire and ate more than a few s’mores.

Traveling to see family has always been a priority to me, and this past weekend was a good reminder of why. What a blessing it was to see my children having such a great time with all of their cousins – cousins who ranged in age from one year to twenty-six years old. They played games with aunts and uncles and talked with their grandmother – it was good to watch them just enjoy each others’ company. 

Even though my mom and siblings live quite far from us, we’ve been able to maintain close relationships, due in part to get-togethers like this one. And the family continues to grow. This year, one new great-grandchild has already arrived, and two more are due in the months to come. We’ll take trips to see them, and hopefully they’ll make it to the mountain property next Memorial Day.

 Though it may not be exactly what my dad had intended, I think he would be pleased with how the land is being used, as it brings his family together again and again.