This summer I’m reviving one of my favorite homeschooling traditions.
Mystery Day begins with a simple set of instructions.
I tell the children what to wear (a swimming suit, a nice outfit, or maybe their muck boots) and what to pack (like a sketch book, a water bottle or a hip sack.)
I pack our remaining gear in secret, hiding away anything that would reveal our destination.
As we eat breakfast together the children speculate on where this day might take them.
To the local museum? Or a nearby city?
To a friend’s farm to see the new calf?
Or on a hike along the river?
We wonder and guess and laugh, and then –
and then we go.
During our journey the kids continue to speculate and ask lots of questions about our destination.
“Have we been there before?”
“Is it in the country or the city?”
“Are we going to be inside or outside today?”
“Will we see something we’ve been learning about at home?”
Sometimes they out-fox me before we arrive, but frequently I surprise them.
We arrive at our destination and everyone delights in what the day brings us.
Often our destination is free.
It is common to take a field trip inspired by something the children have expressed an interest in exploring.
And sometimes it’s just for fun.
In the past five years we have found ourselves on countless Mystery Day adventures.
We’ve seen the bluffs over the Mississippi, eaten sushi, visited a magnolia garden, and banded songbirds.
We’ve visited a zoo, a circus museum, a blueberry farm, and our own back woods.
Some of our trips take an afternoon, others take us until well past sundown.
To me, the beauty of Mystery Day (aside from the joyful suspense and adventure!) is its flexibility.
• Mystery Day can be as simple or complex as you wish.
• You can stay close to home or travel all morning.
• It can be a homeschooling splurge or a no-cost adventure.
• It’s fun, simple (educational!) fun for everyone.
So I guess only one question remains:
Where will you go first?
How do you work playful, affordable adventure into your homeschool?