Monday, August 4, 2014

Back to School at Walt Disney World

Many school systems across the country are gearing up for a new school year. For many families, this means waiting 8 months or more until they can visit Walt Disney World again when school is not in session. While some families do visit during a long weekend, holiday break or spring break, many don’t try to visit this magical spot for fear of missing too much school.

Our family seems to be the opposite! We try to go when school is in session! Why? Crowds are lower, temperatures are cooler and prices are cheaper. We have taken our oldest son out of school to visit Walt Disney World and Disneyland 3 times now. All three times we met with the principal as soon as we could to share our plans, dates and “curriculum!” We assured him that our son would complete any classwork the teacher sent and we would complete the assignments we created for him.


Being a former teacher made it easier for me to see the value in a Disney vacation. There are so many teachable moments during a vacation to the Happiest Place on Earth! To begin, I searched for “Alabama (or enter your state here) State Course of Study 3rd (or grade your child is in) Grade.” I printed the entire Course of Study for math, language, science and social studies. I went through all of the documents highlighting what objectives would be met while at WDW and sometimes listing exact examples. (Example: Social Studies, 3rd Grade, “Identify components of various ecosystems.” can be met through Living With the Land at Epcot.) I then presented all 4 Course of Studies to the principal showing how our son would gain so many educational experiences at Walt Disney World.  Really, how could he argue with me?!?



Along with the presented Course of Study documents, we shared the daily journal he would be keeping, the “ABC” scavenger hunt he would do and the country reports at the World Showcase. In the journal, he wrote daily about the events of the day, wrote three things he learned in each park, drew a picture of his “most favorite” thing, kept a weather log, and collected autographs, maps and ticket stubs.


The ABC scavenger hunt was a simple three ring binder with 26 sheet protector sleeves- one for each letter of the alphabet. As we found items for each letter, we slipped it into the appropriate sleeve. We took pictures for several letters and added the photograph once we returned home. We were surprisingly able to find at least one thing for each letter of the alphabet!

How do you bring “school” along on your Disney vacations? If you need suggestions, you can always find more ideas at my friend Jodi’s blog: Magical Mouse Schoolhouse! I’d love to hear your ideas!

7 comments:

  1. We have taken my daughter from school twice, but just covered the work she missed. I think your ideas are great. I was just curious if the school district required you to do it since u took them out of school?

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  2. I wish more parents were like you. As a teacher,I've been hurt by parents when it comes this. Some will request the work, ahead of time, then not do it. Others will expect me to give up my lunch to catch their child up on what they missed. If a parent is going to take their child out of school, then please work with the teacher to help catch your child up.

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  3. Great ideas Beth!! And I totally agree, going while school is in session is so much better in the parks, it's not nearly as crowded or chaotic.

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  4. What a great idea, we always try to travel during the school year for the lower crowds and cooler temperatures as you mentioned. Our son is currently in online school which allows us to adjust his schedule for our trips.

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  5. I just decided to take my son out of school this year to visit Disney World because of the season and that the crowd would be low due to others being in school. He will be missing 5 days. He is excited and knows he has to make sure he has all his make up work and tell the school everything before we go. He is going into 8th grade so he will be bringing a few books to read, any special work from school and so on. :) Disney here we come!

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  6. Brilliant ideas! When my sons were young I always treated a trip to WDW during the school year like a field trip. I brought along their curriculum so that they could stay on track with the class. The added benefit of exploring and discovering outside the classroom is priceless.

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  7. Great ideas, Beth! We have taken our kids out of school because of the low crowds and saving money, but for this year, with the kids being older, we decided to go school vacation. I was a bit disappointed until our new school calendar was released and by luck, our vacation just happens to fall outside of a busy week. Disney magic at work before we even booked our trips!

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