Places to Go – Master Inspire Plan Part II

by Mary Ann on August 3, 2010

When I was in my fifties and visiting my parents my father shared a dream with me that I don’t believe he had ever shared before. He wanted to take his whole family cross country, from coast to coast, on the train. Imagine. He had had that dream for many, many years. When he had nine children it would have been a much easier proposition than when he shared it with me. By then over 32 grandchildren had been added to his family. In all those years he had never let go of the dream but it stayed a dream. He never told anyone else or wrote it down or made a plan to bring it to pass. Just a few short years later my father passed away with his dream unrealized.

Some of you may be thinking, “Gee what a goofy dream”. I would have thought so too except for a memory I have of a train trip taken over fifty five years ago. When I was very small I rode the train to California with my mother and two sisters. Because I was so small I have only sketchy memories of that trip but it was impactful enough that my sisters and I have talked about it a few times as adults. I remember the excitement I felt getting on the train. I can still hear the clacketty clack, clacketty clack of the wheels on the track which did eventually lull us to sleep. I can still feel the seats on the backs of my legs and taste the huge gingerbread cookies, a gift from our grandmother. I can remember kneeling at the window and watching the world out side change as it passed by. It was a magical trip. I know my dad had traveled by train and I am sure he wanted his whole family to feel the magic of a train ride. I wish we had taken that ride all together, as a family. What fun!

The final part of the Master Inspire Plan that we are going to look at isPLACES TO GO. This is a list of places you would like to take your children for the purpose of rounding out their education and experience. You may want to include a wide variety of places such as climbing mountains, a survival trek or river rafting, visiting historical sites, or other countries. When you are considering your selections think about what plans you need to make to prepare your children to make the most of the experience. This could be through study, an orientation, a training program or The Spark Station.

When you compile your list you may already have places in mind that really resonate with you. As you live life other places and experiences will surface and trips will come up that weren’t planned way ahead. Let’s look at both scenarios.

Since our basic topic here is The Spark Station I will give an example using that tool and a very simple trip that a family might make. I live in Utah and one of the families that I worked with was making a trip to the Southern part of the state. They hadn’t planned it for a long time but the opportunity came up for them to go and so they decided to make the trip. They were enthusiastic to acquaint their children to more of the state in which they lived.

They knew a few months ahead that they would be making the trip and so we brain stormed some ideas that they could use in their Spark Station to inspire their children to take an interest in the trip and to learn new information.

This is the list of items that we came up with that, over time, could be placed into The Spark Station. There are also some attendant activities that those items could lead to.

1. A book on the high desert showing plants and animals. Plastic plants and animals can be included. Add a small plastic tub to create a mini high desert environment.

2. A box of minerals. A book on minerals so that they can be identified. A box frame could be added so that they could be mounted, identified and framed.

3. A book on crystals. Materials and directions for making crystals. A book on stalactites and stalagmites. Make or purchase some rock candy or sugar crystals.

4. Information and books on the gold rush. Possibly a book to read to the family from that era. You could purchase some fools gold and get some pie tins and pan for gold in a small plastic wading pool.

5. A book on cacti. Plants to make a cacti garden or small terrarium.

6. Books on erosion and how caves are formed. Information and pictures from the internet on caves in Utah. Identify which ones will be in the area you are traveling to. Materials to experiment with erosion.

7. Send for information on Utah from the state travel department.

8. Special notebooks to use as journals and to paste pictures into while on the trip. Post cards can be glued into the books. The journals can be started before the trip and include things that each child finds interesting while they are preparing for the trip.

9. Information on biking and hiking trails in the area you are going.

10. Find out about desert survival. Pretend your family is lost in the desert in your back yard and practice your skills.

11. Information on ancient Indian tribes in the area such as the Anasazi and the ice age Paolo Indians.

Anasazi Indians

Paiute Indians

12. Materials and directions to replicate Indian clothing, headdresses and war paint.

13. Clay to make ancient Indian dwellings.

14. Materials to try your hand at rock painting.

15. Information, books and pictures on other Indian tribes from So. Utah. Why not find a good book to read as a family about that tribe.

16. A book on flowers of the high desert and other places in Utah. Materials to make a cardboard flower press to take on the trip. A note book to be used as a nature journal where pressed flowers can be mounted and pictures of animals, flowers and other things can be drawn.

17. What museums are available?

18. Is fishing available and what fish can be caught.

19. Information or books on ancient lakes, ancient fish and fossils. The materials to make fossils.

20. Books and pictures of the Grand Canyon.

21. Information and books on “slot canyons and how they were formed.

22. Make a small covered wagon. Learn about pioneer life in So. Utah.

23. Cook a pioneer dinner in your back yard using a Dutch oven or other old time method.

24. Materials for sand painting.

petroglyph for kids

25. Materials for weaving. Find someone who can demonstrate how to clean, card and spin wool.

Mrs. Elwood at four corners monument

26. Find out how pottery was made. Make some pottery.

27. What ghost towns are in the area? How do ghost towns come to be?

28. Utah is a dinosaur mecca. Books on dinosaurs. Information on dinosaurs from Utah. Plan to visit a “dig.” Go to a dinosaur museum.

Of course in a few weeks or months you cannot possibly use all the ideas that have been presented. However, can you see what wonderful things your children can learn and do in preparation for just one family event? Learning can carry right on after the family has returned home so the fun and memories last longer.

Not every child will warm to every offering. That is the beauty of inspire not require. You offer a multitude of exciting possibilities from which they can choose. One child may not write at all in a journal but may sketch the entire trip. On a special trip my sister, who has a son who balks at writing in a journal, had him write the family letters to those back home. These became his journal.

One child may be fascinated with the gold rush and ghost towns while another may be interested in caves and minerals. It is a fabulous smorgasbord of inspiration to offer your core and love of learning children. Your scholar age children will want to be involved too.

The Niebergall Family

Now let’s look at a trip planned way in advance. My sister and her husband’s family were taking a trip to Germany where his ancestors are from. For over three years they planned the trip. They met all together a few times to talk about itinerary, their own genealogy as it related to Germany, what to see, where to stay, etc.

Each family set up a fund to save money. Their money came from a second job. Sometimes they would opt not to participate in another activity and instead save the money for the trip. They also had a change jar. All the family would put any change they got into the jar. These funds paid for souvenirs. It was a family affair to financially prepare and the kids were right on board with saving for it.

Karl and Nanette Niebergall

They researched places of interest, hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, museums, etc. The internet was used a lot. They studied thehistory of the area they were going to see. They studied the people, the weather, and the geography.

They researched their ancestors and found living relatives which they contacted. While in Germany they stayed with many of these relatives. Nanette said that that effort really made the trip wonderful. One of the reasons was that because of these connections they spent very little time in the tourist areas and lots of time in small German villages and towns where the welcome was amazing.

My sister, Nanette

Karl, her husband, sent away to Germany for information. They had time to look it over and do research on the best things to do, see and places to go. They learned some history and what would help them navigate a foreign country the best. They had one family member who brushed up on his German and my sister said that was really a life saver for everyone. When they went to Germany they were fully prepared.

I won’t make a list of all of the hundreds of possible inclusions that you could come up with for your Spark Station. By looking at the list for the Southern Utah trip you can see how it is done.

I mentioned in a previous article that when my daughter went to Europe with George Wythe College they prepared for over a year.

Kate in Europe

They met in a study group weekly, in person or via the net. There were books to read, people to research and places to find out about. They studied history, architecture, art, etc. When she finally got to Europe it was to be immersed in what she was already familiar with. It made the experience all the more meaningful and wonderful.

Your Master Inspire Plan is a way to take a dream, like my father’s train trip, and make it a reality like my sisters trip to Germany. Many of us have wonderful places we would like to take our children. Some we manage to do. However, many never happen because we have no plan.

I want to mention here that Nanette, my sister, has five sons. She and her husband had a list of places they wanted to take them. As the years went by they added to the list. Karl is a teacher and does not make a lot of money. Nanette was a stay at home mom until three of her sons were in high school. Yet they have taken their sons to see their church’s historical sights back east, have taken a cruise to Alaska, took their sons to Germany, San Francisco, camped along the Oregon coast, traveled the California coast, and went on another trip to the Redwood Forest. They have been in almost all of the states west of the Mississippi River. When they lived in Washington State they knew that it was a place that they wouldn’t live in long. So they planned and took many small trips around the state.

My husband and I commented many times, “How in the world do they do it?” We did not take our children on many trips. We went to reunions and to grandma’s. We just couldn’t see how Karl and Nanette did all that they did. Now I know. They had a plan. They wrote it down and put action to it. They turned their desires and dreams into reality. Anyone can do that. It is NEVER about money. It is always about intent.

So carefully consider where you want to take your children. What do you want them to experience? Write it on your Master Inspire Plan. Put dates on each item and start preparing to go. You can do this. You can provide wonderful opportunities for your children to learn and experience the world they live in.

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