Summer has ended and the new school year is in full swing. The pools and beaches have officially closed here at Lake Anna State Parkbut we are still providing fun outdoor programming throughout the year.
Homeschoolers enjoyed their educational field trip toLake Anna State Park as a great way to spend the day learning in the great outdoors.
A fun field trip to Lake Anna State Park
Ranger Kyle and Fishing 101
On this particular partly cloudy early fall morning lake-side our Ranger Kyle gives instructions on how to fish to a homeschool group of fourth through seventh graders. This particular group is actively participating in our Fishing 101 program. There was a younger group of first through third graders simultaneously in the Gold Panning class.
The youth are part of a Homeschool Group called REACH
Ranger Kyle instructing REACH student
Fishing 101 is where the youth can learn the fundamentals of fishing, and it is not a class where one just sits back to hear a lecture on fishing. It is actually a hands on experience where they get to throw out a line and see what they can reel in. The fishing pole provided is outfitted with a small weighted colorful fish, therefore when casting, it was used to try and snag a larger flat colorful fish that lay on the ground. Once the line hitches a catch (the flat fish) they can then reel it in, and reeling they did in abundance.
It did not take long for this group to master the techniques taught, and they soon needed Ranger Kyle to move the potential catches further away to increase the challenge. Once a few became comfortable and their confidence started to build, it became a competition, if not only with themselves. You could hear them start to yell out how many fish they had caught so far.
Parent assisting her child from the younger group with cast
One great aspect with the homeschool group participating in this program, it allows the parents to continually teach and advise in an outdoor environment through the activities. The education process in these classes incorporates a concept and practicum setting whilst having fun.
Corn Snake used as a teaching tool
Lake Anna State Park homeschool classes are not just a great place for children to interact with each other, but it also offers a great place for the parents to network and share creative ideas. The attending families varied in regional location. There were a few families that live on or near the Lake. Some families drove from Northern Virginia and some as far away as Charlottesville.
The snakes were a major attraction with the children. They learned about the different exhibits on display at Lake Anna State Park.
Display in Visitor Center
The park exhibits sparked many conversations. One conversation in particular was the area of camping, after seeing the massive set up of a wide screen television placed inside a tent for the purpose of a 3D image that talks about camping.
Having fun at the sluice!
Youth learning how the prospectors panned for gold with Chief Ranger Lauri
Ranger Jennifer and Ranger Lauri gave a lecture on how the original prospectors panned for gold, along with the youth being able to get their hands wet and dirty only the way children love to do.
They transitioned from the deck of the visitor center to an opening on Old Pond, just a short stroll to one of the many trails at the park. Here they learned there is a definite technique on how to search for gold. Which in the children’s case was even more fun because they were encouraged to get their hands dirty.
Ranger Jennifer gives a lesson on how to pan for gold
There were taught a series of steps before they could potentially achieve the bounty of gold. There was a certain way to hold the pan, and a series of swishing back and forth, some shaking, and of course looking for the gold. The parents were involved helping the children search through the mud and rocks. They even learned the how to differentiate gold from fool’s gold!
During one series they were instructed to stir the pans with their fingers as if they were stirring a cake mix. Then there was a disclaimer belted out from Ranger Lauri “You can’t lick your fingers like you would after stirring the cake batter at home!” The group quickly broke out in a joyful laughter.
These were two informative and actively participated classes for the REACH youth.The children thoroughly enjoyed themselves with their family in this outdoor learning environment. It was an excellent way to have them learn while meeting new friends in a fun outdoor classroom. The cost for this program at the park was $2 per person.