By guest blogger Leslie Smittle of Leslie's Little Smittles
If your home-educated family is anything like mine, you know it can be fun to find educational experiences in just about every area of life. While vacation should be simply that – a vacation – there are really great educational experiences to take advantage of in and around the Walt Disney World Resort that you don’t want to miss out on.
Here is my list (and no, you don't have to home school to take advantage of these learning opportunities):
1. Visit the Kidcot Fun Stops throughout the World Showcase at Epcot. These fun craft spots are a great way for your children to learn about different cultures. Each spot features a cast member sharing information about his or her native land. Children will also get a stamp at each location. For an additional fee, you can purchase a World Showcase Passport to keep your stamps as a souvenir.
2. Spend time at Sea Base inside Epcot. There are so many things to learn about the underwater world in this area. The 5.7 million-gallon aquarium is home to some of the most amazing sea creatures. Make sure to be there for feeding time so that you can hear the cast members talk more in-depth about the animals. There are lots of interactive exhibits in this area as well as private tours. You might even learn a little more about sea life in the two attractions in this area: Turtle Talk with Crush, and The Seas with Nemo and Friends.
3. Learn about food production aboard Living with the Land. This is a great educational ride through the greenhouses of the Land Pavilion in Epcot. You’ll hear about where foods come from and how Disney is using innovative ways to grow foods right on the resort. You can also see live freshwater animals as you travel through the fish farm. The “Behind the Seeds” tour is also available for an additional fee. If you’d like to try out some of the foods yourself, plan to dine at the Garden Grill Restaurant while you’re there.
4. Have a budding paleontologist? Visit The Boneyard at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Kids can climb on a fascinating play area designed for learning about dinosaurs. You’ll even be able to dig through and find dino bones. There are lots of interactive stations in this area that will amaze the kids, including dinosaur footprints that make sounds!
5. Travel through Animal Kingdom as a Wilderness Explorers. While you’re visiting the park, pick up your Wilderness Explorers Field Guide. There are lots of fun animal related activities throughout the park, and each activity earns you a sticker badge. This is a great way to make the most of your time at Animal Kingdom.
6. Show your patriotic spirit at The Hall of Presidents in Magic Kingdom. You’ll find a great attraction full of American history. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, this show includes fully-animated wax figures of all the presidents, actual sound and video clips, and images from the country’s beginnings to present day. It may be a little on the slow side for younger learners, but in true Disney fashion, this is a top-notch show that features stories from the history of our nation.
7. Take a 20-minute ride to The Disney Wilderness Preserve. After you’ve seen all that the resort has to offer, travel south to the 11,500-acre preserve run by The Nature Conservancy. This is a beautiful way to see plants and animals in their natural habitats. There is a 2.5 mile hiking loop that is open weekdays from 9-5. This is a FREE activity, but donations are appreciated.
Disney actually has “Disney Homeschool Days” every year. This year it is October 1-18. This program includes guided, in-park educational field studies with courses in Applied Sciences, Environmental Studies, Liberal Arts, and Leadership Development. There are classes for all school-aged children 5-18. It’s a fun time to meet other homeschool families from around the world who have a common love for all things Disney.
Leslie is a homeschool mother of six beautiful children. She and her family are gearing up for their next Disney vacation this fall. You can read more from her at her blog, Leslie’s Little Smittles, where she shares about life with six chidren ages 8 and under. In addition to her blog, you can find Leslie on Facebook and Pinterest.