Civil War Reenactment – Huntington Beach

Want to escape the heat of the desert and need a legitimate excuse to drive to Huntington Beach? How about Southern California’s Largest Civil War Reenactment?! This a great event for the whole family.

September 3rd & 4th at Huntingbeach Central Library

Afterwards, you can drive north through Buena Park and stop at Farrell’s for ice cream before you head home!

Do you like trains?

The railroad had a huge part in our part of the country so there is a lot of very interesting history there even if you aren’t interested in the locomotives themselves and we have a huge resource for everything railroad right near by!

The Southern California Railway Museum in Perris has several events coming up this fall, not to mention it’s a great place just to come and wander around. There are lots of hands-on exhibits and even a real train to catch a ride on. Take the family and check it out!

Here are some links to train activities and ideas to help you make the most of the day!

NEA’s Transcontinental Telegraph and Railroad

DIY Homeschooler’s Unit Study on the Transcontinental Railroad

The Great Railroad Race Game

Unschooling History/Social Studies/Current Events Etc.

Even if you’re not totally on board with unschooling in the broader sense, an easy way to look into it and see how it works could be by starting with history. History, Social Studies, Government, Economics, and Current Events are covered in our home school by following trails. Those trails start everywhere you look! I’ll give you an example that came up today.

My oldest son has been fascinated by the 90’s show “X Files” for the last several months. He found out that they are on Netflix now, so he’s been watching them in order while he eats his breakfast. This morning there was an episode with a character that had spent time at a camp for Haitian Refugees. The camp looked a lot like a prison and there was some discussion about it. I wasn’t watching so I’m not sure about what was going on in the show, but my son came and asked me if I knew what they were talking about. I didn’t remember anything about it so he went to the internet and searched. At first, he searched “1992” because that is when the show was released. I told him to broaden it a bit and search for “1990’s” and “Haitian Refugees”. There was a Wikipedia article about a camp in Guantanamo that shed some light on the subject and one about a coup d’etat at the time. I won’t get into all the details. He came back and told me a bit about it. The article reminded me that I had heard about “boat people” from Haiti when I was in high school. We talked about why people would leave, why the government wouldn’t want them here, how they could be held against their will, court cases about it, what’s going on now in Europe, Syrian Refugees, etc. The conversation went on for about 45 minutes before he went back and watched the rest of the show.

Another piece of the history puzzle has been added. Our history lessons don’t come on a packaged and nice looking timeline. They come as we need them and when we are interested in learning more, little bites at a time. Some day we’ll find out more about that time period and what was going on in Haiti, how it was related to something else at the time, and other people that were affected. It will probably come from another tv show, a movie, a game, an article, a book, or a conversation. And it will tie in with the world around us. It will be relevant to our own time and it will be remembered in a deeper way than any pre-written history course.

Grubstake Days! – Yucca Valley

Events like this make living here such a joy! Grubstake Days had become a thing of the past the last few years but a small group of residents decided that just wasn’t right and have revived the weekend festivities celebrating our area’s heritage and bringing back a sense of community. Come watch the parade, participate in horseshoes, cheer on the rodeo, and play at the carnival! There’s so much more too!

Is this homeschool related? Of course, it is! Things like this are what make family memories and that is what home education is really about, building family and community on the small scale and giving our country the strong base to build on and change the world. Where better to learn a bit about our local history than a Heritage Day celebration? Where better to meet the community and know our neighbors than a town parade and pancake breakfast? The best part about this particular festival is that it really is a “local” and “grassroots” thing. The community wanted it. A citizen took charge. And through the glories of human ingenuity and social media, Grubstakes Days has been reborn!

Take the family out this weekend, buy some cotton candy, and show your support. The more people that attend, the bigger it will be next year!

Palm Springs Air Museum

Palm Springs Air Museum

Have you been here? My sons have always been interested in airplanes of all kinds. This museum gives them the chance to see many of them up close and even talk to many of the men and women that have flown them! The museum is open daily and costs about $15 per person to check it out. We found it very much worth the cost. If you think you might go more than twice in one year, check out a family membership. Memberships to museums are great to have because it takes the tension off of everyone to get as much as they can out of the museum in one day. If the kids are only interested in one plane all day or just wandering through in an hour, you’re not going to be so upset about missing out and having to pay to get in again. You can come back again and again and take your time. It’s also a great way to get to know some of the docents that spend a lot of time there!

There are also education tours available and it’s on my agenda for the next “school year” to put one together for our area, so stay tuned!

Living History at Riley’s Farm in Oak Glen – July

The Colonial Faire at Riley’s Farm in Oak Glen, four weekends in July!

Here’s a chance to see what it was like to live in Colonial times! Oak Glen is a beautiful place and not that far of a drive from the desert for a weekend of living history. This event is on weekends in July, so you have plenty of time to read a story or watch a movie to give you a clue as to the era of our country’s history. I’ve always found that knowing  a little bit about the time really gives our kids some hooks in their mind to hang the information they find at an event like this. So run to the library for some books, add a movie to your Netflix cue, or find an interactive website about colonial times!

Events lik these are great additions to your child’s education. Yes, the event cost some money, but all the education leading up to that moment can be practically free. The links above can lead you to an entire semester of American history. Homeschooling could look like this. First, you and the kids run to the library and spend a day talking to the librarian and picking out books, picture books and “discovery” books the kids will love and a more difficult book for a read aloud time with the family. There may also be movies available at the library. If you have Netflix or some other form of movie rental, watch seom tv shows and movies together based or set in the time. And introduce the kids to some interactive websites about the time. They’ll be playing games and reading all afternoon!

Get your tickets to the fair before June 1st for a good sized discount. Invite Grandma and Grandpa, Aunts and Uncles, or some friends to come with you and make it a family adventure. The fair is packed with intersting demonstrations and shows.

Most likely, the learning won’t end there. The era is fascinating when presented this way and not in a textbook. And it’s not just history you’ll be learning; literature, science, health, math, and home economics are all strewn throughout life when you study this way. There’s really no end to where you can go from here!

Civil War Reenactment in Perris

Here’s an amazing living history opportunity coming up on May 21 & 22 at the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, CA! The Civil War period of American history was a fascinating time. The people who put on these reenactments love their history and love talking about it. This one is coming up in a bit more than a week, so you have time to read a short book or watch a movie about the time. That will give you a heads up on what you’ll be experiencing in Perris!

My sons loved “Rifles for Watie” by Harold Keith when they were about 10 years old. It says the book is for teens and young adults, but we read aloud together and they truly loved the story. It is a war book, so more sensitive youngsters might find the story troublesome. “The Red Badge of Courage” by Stephen Crane is another awesome story. Perris is about an hour and a half way from our part of the desert. You could find an audible file of the story and listen to it on the way there and on the way home!

It also looks like there are a lot of Civil War video, card, and board games available on Amazon. My sons had the XBOX one and enjoyed playing it. They said loading the guns and cannons was the part that really got them. It really slowed down the battle and gave them way too many places to get killed. I can’t imagine fighting like they did!

If the war aspect isn’t your thing, there will be a civilian camp at the reenactment with women and children. Why would they be there you ask? They have the answers and it’s not just because the reenactors thought it would be fun.

Also, don’t miss a ride on the big steam train around the grounds. The engineers love talking about their engines!


San Diego Scottish Highland Games – Vista

It’s a bit of a drive to Vista from our lovely desert but close enough for a day trip to our family, especially to see some Scottish Games! Pipes and drums, dancing, sheep herding dogs, story time, and much, much more. Festivals like these are a great way to introduce world history and culture to kids (and adults) of all ages.

Go visit the San Diego Scottish Highland Games in Vista on June 25 and 26, 2016!

Mini Maker Fair in North San Diego – June

You have to add this to your calendar! I realize that it’s not in the desert but it should be well worth the drive to Vista for the day. Not only is there an Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum SHOW but there will be a Mini Maker Fair as well!

The show is on the weekend of June 18 & 19 in Vista, CA. The cost is $10 per person. Click here for more details and purchase tickets!


Malki Museum – Banning

Want to learn more about the Native Americans that call the desert their home? Here’s something interesting to check out in Banning! The Malki Museum on the Morongo Reservation. They have their annual Kewet Celebration coming up in May. And they even offer classes in the Cahuilla language. Like their Facebook Page to keep up to date with their events.