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Six Virtual and Real Escapes

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By Penny Raine

Six Reasons to Run

You know what they say: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Fortunately, one of the best things about homeschooling is the ability to build play into your schedule. If you decide to do schoolwork in the morning, you do schoolwork in the morning. If you decide afternoons are better, that works, too.

And if, after the monotony of the school year sets in, you decide to run away, then by all means, make it worthwhile.

"Running away" can be fun and educational, as long as you take the time to smell the tacos — err, uh, roses. Here are six real and virtual adventures that let you have fun and learn along the way.

1.  Daydream vacation
You can go anywhere in your dreams. For example, let's say you've been dreaming about Italy. Start by gathering books and Web sites about this European destination. For a month or so, dress like an Italian and eat Italian foods. Listen to Italian songs and watch Italian movies. Practice Italian with Rosetta Stone. Use a map of Italy or a brochure from a travel agent and highlight the sites you'd like to see.

2. Around the world in 30 days
This is similar to a daydreaming vacation, but instead of just one place, choose five or more. It will be a fast-paced vacation, so spend your time wisely. Map out your trip and choose your transportation. Don't forget to check into tourist restrictions, such as visas and passports. Research the political climate and make sure it is a safe time to visit each of the countries in your virtual itinerary. And don't forget to plan a budget. How much would it cost in American dollars to take your trip?

3. Across America in 30 days
Plan a virtual travel adventure across America by picking one place on each coast and mapping out the trip from one destination to another. Plan stops in all the places you have ever wanted to see. Plan your wardrobe around the weather in each stop. Figure out how much gas it will take. Should you take an RV or stay in motels? While you are in each place, speak with the local accent.

4. Local Tourist Spots
Most of us are adventurous about visiting other places, yet we often forget the places close to home. Research your hometown online and then visit some of the most popular tourist destinations, such as museums, famous restaurants and landmarks.

5. Local Historical Destinations
This is similar to idea No. 4, but this time focus on historical sites. America is full of rich history. There may be some exciting historical places near you that are so close, you thought you would get there someday. Make that day today.

6. Family Genealogy
Make a family tree and study where your relatives came from, the foods they ate, the languages they spoke. If any of your family members are immigrants, ask them where they came from. Older people often like to talk about "the old country." By interviewing them, you can become the family historian and keep a record of your family's history for future generations.

Fun Tips

  • Get a suitcase to stow your dress-up clothes and keepsakes. Whether your trip is actual or virtual, gather all of your information, brochures and books and keep them in the suitcase.
  • Keep a journal or notebook, but don't worry about compiling it until after your trip. Remember, the object is not just to study a place, but to actually experience it. Involve as many senses as you can — smells, tastes, sounds. Surround yourself with things from your chosen place. It will make your learning for the rest of the school year come alive!
  • After your "trip" is over, compile the information in a scrapbook, Web page or video.

Penny Raine is a mother of eight who homeschools her children on a farm in Tennessee. Penny has written several e-books and articles. You can contact her at Penny@awesomeglory.com.