Many people look forward to a holiday away from home; an opportunity to escape the routines of the everyday and enjoy new experiences. Many people look forward just as much to the return home, to familiar comforts and routines.
During the past twelve months I have enjoyed a few escapes away.
I travelled overseas and far away for my first visit to London.
My visit to the UK included a few days at Saxmundham to the north
and a visit to Dinosaur Adventure at Norwich for Grandson’s fifth birthday.
I travelled to Cairns and Port Douglas in northern Queensland,
and from north to south through Tasmania from Hobart to Launceston.
I visited Alice Springs and Uluru in Central Australia.
I also visited some seaside locations closer to home, including Hervey Bay and Marcoola to the north and Coolangatta to the south.
Just last week I enjoyed a few days at a farmstay celebrating Grandson’s sixth birthday.
Looking at that list, one might think I am never at home; but it doesn’t seem that way to me.
Visiting places away from home can be educational as well as enjoyable and fun; meeting new people, learning about different cultures and ways of life, experiencing new foods, activities and routines, and seeing different geographical features. This is true for adults and children alike. The learning is integral to the experience, not an add-on or a lesson.
However the experiences can be recorded by, with or for children to enhance learning opportunities; for example, but not restricted to:
- Photo stories with accompanying text provide wonderful opportunities for reading and discussion and for keeping the memories alive over the years.
- Diary or journal records that include dates, places and events provide opportunities for writing and reading. These entries can be supported with photographs, drawings, or “souvenirs” such as stickers, postcards, entry tickets and brochures.
- Letters and postcards sent to family and friends provide further opportunities for sharing, writing and reading.
- Emails can also be used to share highlights with family and friends and provide opportunities for using and learning about technology. I have found that including myself as a recipient for each email provides an effective alternative, or addition, to diary writing.
- Marking routes and places visited on maps helps develop a sense of location and direction. Combining these with photographs or photo stories or diaries makes them even more meaningful.
- Using a calendar to count down the weeks or days until departure, mark the days at each location, and the date of returning home helps to develop an understanding of the passage of time as well as the ability to read and use a calendar.
- Discussion of departure and arrival times, the time until and the duration of journeys or events, and relating these to time shown in both digital and analogue format helps develop an understanding of the use of time measurement and the passage of time. Use of printed and online timetables, as well as those displayed in airports, train stations and at bus stops provides opportunities for in-context and purposeful learning.
Books, including atlases and photo books, can be used to ignite interest in places to be visited during a planned holiday or generally to arouse interest in other places. Stories can also be used.
One such story is Letters from Felix by Annette Langen and Constanza Droop. It tells of Felix, a toy bunny who was lost at the airport, as he travels the world on his way home to Sophie. In my version Sophie lives in Hobart, Tasmania and she receives letters from Felix in London, Paris, Rome, Cairo, Kenya and New York. (If anyone owns a different version, I’d love to know the countries included.) In each letter, the information shared by Felix inspires Sophie to find out more about the location. When Felix finally arrives home he has a surprise gift for Sophie: a sticker from every location visited.
Letters from Felix is a great story to read at any time, but takes on extra meaning when one, or someone known, is travelling or returning from travels. It can be used to support or encourage an interest in geography in the classroom or at home. If children are not visiting locations as exotic as those visited by Felix, they may still be encouraged to record and share their experiences in the ways described above.
Of course, when children arrive home, they may be just as excited to rediscover their familiar comforts, toys and books and reconnect with friends and family left behind. As the song says, “There’s no place like home.”
What inspired me to think about holidays and home this week is the flash fiction challenge set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a return to home. I have written about Marnie’s return to the place she had grown up but had never felt was “home”. It also provides a segue to the next post in my series celebrating Australian picture books which includes “Home” by Narelle Oliver. I hope you will join me for that post. In the meantime, here is my flash:
Her eyes looked outward but her gaze was inward, trying to unravel the confusion of tumultuous emotions: anger for what had been, sadness for what wasn’t, regret she hadn’t escaped sooner, fear of her reaction, coldness at their passing. The bus carried her back; some things familiar, some as different now as she, returning “home” after so many years. Home? She’d called it home, back then, but now realised it hadn’t been home, not really; not safe and warm and loving as any home should be. She’d left vowing to never return. She returned now for finality and closure.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post or flash fiction.