When I lived in the States, I took my kids on a lot of trips. A lot. Nature centers, zoos, aquariums, dance performances, plays, historical reenactments, library programs – there were so many outings over the years. That’s because I enjoy taking my kids to places that I think they’ll enjoy, and since usually there’s generally learning value in just about anything, it fit into my educational philosophy regarding integrating life and learning and fun.
That’s something that has changed since we moved here. We get out quite a bit within Karmiel, going to local parks together regularly. But when it came to leaving Karmiel for a family trip, it didn’t happen – until today.
Today we attended an NBN event held at Kfar Kedem, a place in which activities are all done as they were in ancient times. This is just the kind of place that I love to take take the kids to, and thanks to NBN, there was no entrance fee (it’s usually on the pricey side).
We started off with donkey riding. This was much more labor intensive for me than I anticipated, since the rules are that you can have only one rider on a donkey at a time, and each donkey has to be led by someone who is at least a teenager. I had thirteen children there with me (I took five of my friend’s children along), and of those only my oldest three were allowed to lead a donkey. So we had thirteen people wanting to ride a donkey, and four of us able to lead. It’s good I brought the wrap, so I could hold Yirmiyahu in it while leading a donkey and holding the hand of one of my younger boys simultaneously! Everyone got a turn or two, it just took some time and patience on the parts of everyone waiting.
Then we went to a demonstration about goat milking and cheese making. Each child had a chance to milk the goat for one squeeze.
To make the cheese, the goat milk was mixed with a few drops of the whitish sap squeezed from freshly picked figs, then stirred with the peeled twig of a fig tree. After a half hour this cheese was available for tasting; the kids who got some said it was tasty.
The next activity was learning about the planting/harvesting process for wheat. We were shown a plow, yoke and a thresher, as the person leading the activity explained each of the stages involved in harvesting wheat. One thing that was really nice about the demonstrations was something that made me very aware that we were in Israel – all of the history quoted was biblical, the figures discussed were biblical figures and when talking about different aspects of making bread or planting or whatever else, God’s role in all of this was talked about matter of factly.
The kids were then given balls of dough and patted out their own flatbread, which was then put on a rounded piece of metal over a fire and baked very rapidly. After it was finished they had the option of topping it with zaatar sauce.
Our kids then discovered the olive press; this is a seasonal activity which isn’t running now, but ds7 in particular still had fun here.
I was pleasantly surprised to find five other homeschooling families there! Someone I met almost two years ago at my first NBN picnic introduced me to someone else and mentioned that someone else (who I’ve known online for about six or seven years) was there. I found my online friend in my last half hour there but we didn’t have more than a couple of minutes to talk. And then right as I was gathering everyone to go to the bus – an announcement had just made that our bus was leaving in five minutes – I met another homeschooling mom who said she had heard I was there and was looking for me the entire time! (We met briefly three years ago when she came to the second Torah Home Education conference in Baltimore.) She wanted our twelve year old daughters to meet, which they did – for about one minute. She’s a lovely girl and hopefully they’ll have a chance to get together in the near future.
It was such a nice day – all of the kids enjoyed themselves and so did I. I miss having outings like this with everyone, and was especially appreciative that everything feel into place in order for this to happen.