Do you enjoy traveling? Have you considered road schooling? Maybe, you’re already a road school family and are looking for new destinations ahead of time.
Perhaps, you’re wondering what this has to do with school at all?
My family and I started to ease into road schooling almost 2 years ago. For us, it’s a break from the seated work and planned core academics. A way to learn through exploration, first hand observations and discovery. Now we are blending in a road school trip at least 6 weeks out of a year. With a few 4 day trips here and there.
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At the date of this post, we are on a 14 day road school trip which we started in lower Michigan and into Upper Michigan.
We are taking Route 2 across the North-West traveling the Great Northern Route.
States will go through:
I plan to document our journey to share with you along the way.
Up to this point I have been sharing parts of our adventure on my holistic homeschooler Facebook page.
However, now that we’ve made it to Yellow Stone National Park, I have so much more to share with you. Including my favorite stop so far….
The Grand Prismatic Springs
I am a little over 6 months pregnant with our third baby. Both of my kids are still on the younger side so shorter walks and hikes are much more feasible for all of us. Especially when we are trying to fit in seeing as much as we can each day. I also routinely incorporate nature walks into our home education. Therefore, a jaunt through the Grand Prismatic Springs took our nature walks to a whole new level.
The pathway through Prismatic Springs is a flat man made composite boardwalk. I would definitely define it as easy for anyone but especially for those that are use to rustic dirt trails. The walk itself is roughly a short 1 mile round trip through the springs. Some of the boardwalk has a guardrail but other parts are open with no guardrail. For those with really young children, it would be safest to hand hold during this walk due to the hot springs.
I called this our “misty” nature walk but really I should have titled it as, “steamy.” The air was cool and as it met the hot springs, it created a thick cloud of warm vapor that swirled around us.
Pictures of Spectacular Springs…
Excelsior Geyser Basin
Here is a little bit of information about the Excelsior Geyser which is right across from the cyanobacteria water filled crater. I use these to either read to my children or my oldest prefers to read them herself. It adds to the educational experience but it’s nice to read it before hand to be better prepared for conversations and questions.
Grand Prismatic Springs
I feel like this one deserves a drum roll.
My husband and I have said over and over, the pictures are beautiful but they don’t compare to how spectacular this spring is in person. If you have a fancy camera or even a drone to take pictures- I highly recommend bringing it. The view from above is even better than standing on the platform to observe it.
We probably stood here a good 20 minutes to allow my oldest the time to read all of these signs. She recently finished All About Reading Level 3 but still needed help reading words like “thermophiles” and “extremophiles.” The words surrounding these, new to her words, were enough to explain what they meant.
Grand Prismatic Springs is the largest and one of the most brilliant of Yellowstone’s many colorful hot springs.
If you plan to use prismatic springs to teach in the area of geology and volcanic structures here are some key points:
- Prismatic means “brilliantly colored.”
- The intense blue color in the center of the spring is due to sunlight being scattered by fine particles suspended in the water.
- The rich yellow, deep orange, and brown colors encircling the hot spring and lining the run off channels are caused by thermophiles which are heat loving microorganisms. The colorful pigments within the thermophiles allow them to make energy from sunlight and thrive in the harsh conditions of the hot springs.
Deep beneath the surface, magma from an active volcano heats water that rises to the surface through fissures in the rocks.
This is a smaller pool that comes right after the Prismatic Springs and the one right before the last one. I did not get a picture of the last one as it was underwhelming compared to the other three but you can see it yourself whenever you take the trip.
Leaving Prismatic Springs…
All of these hot springs pour over 500 gallons of water each minute which form runoff channels that flow into Firehole River.
People were wading and sitting in the shallow warm river near the hot spring water flowing from the channels. I dipped my feet in at the edges, it was a cool temperature. Those that were close to the runoff, explained that it became hotter the closer you got until you reach your limit. You can see how close you’re able to get. It’s like sitting in a cool bath but only turning on the hot faucet to warm it up, never touching the hot water running out.
Living Picture Book
I didn’t search for anything ahead of time but I did find this beautifully illustrated picture book to enhance our children’s learning in the gift shop. This one particularly inspired my highly imaginative child’s personality, while also weaving in scientific information covering volcanic structures and geology. It is titled, Imagination Vacation Yellowstone by Anastasia & Christopher Kierst.
Here are a couple images of inside the book so you can see the quality of illustrations and literature.
The story follows a father and daughter through their travels in Yellowstone. Emmaline is an imaginative little girl who shares with her father what she thinks everything she sees is…
“I think Grand Prismatic is a rainbow that curled up for a nap. When it bubbles, the color escapes and color the world. What do you think?” Emmaline asked.
Her father usual goes along with her perspective while also providing a scientific explanation.
“Well, I think that Grand Prismatic is a hot spring-a pool of water that has trickled so deep into the earth that it was super heated by magma.”
Emmaline interrupts to ask what Magma is and her father responds,
What do you think of all the gorgeous pictures? As mentioned before they don’t even come close to the in person experience. If you’re planning future travels, a nature walk through the Grand Prismatic Springs is a must see.
I hope some of the suggestions and information provided in this article adequately prepares you before you go. If you have any roadschool or homeschool questions feel free to reach out.