Homeschooling Field Trip: Mount Auburn Cemetery

Lucy at large.

Lucy at large.

The guide tried to make a big deal about having a tarp outside as our classroom for the day. For these homeschool kids, that's probably the norm. "What's a classroom?"

The guide tried to make a big deal about having a tarp outside as our classroom for the day. For these homeschool kids, that’s probably the norm. “What’s a classroom?”

I was so glad that we were all over being sick on Monday so that we join some of our local homeschool group on our much-anticipated field trip to Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge.

Ben isn't sure about all this talking.

Ben isn’t sure about all this talking.

While I do love visiting cemeteries, Mount Auburn is much, much more than just a cemetery. It was established in 1851 by the Horticultural Society as a “rural cemetery” and experimental garden. It’s worth visiting for the history, for the art, for the botanical garden, and for the wildlife.

Anthony likes the hands-on learning.

Anthony likes the hands-on learning.

Our purpose was a lecture on botany and a guided tour– of course our guide was only to appraise us of a few highlights of the diverse species in the habitat and to give us just a smattering about the vast scope of the place. We learned about conifers– how to tell the difference between spruce, fir, and hemlock. And about flowers and various seed pods. Our guide had a bunch of examples the kids were able to hold and examine– even take apart. Also about salamanders and vernal pools and great horned owls– we even found and examined an owl pellet.

Finding owl pellets. Our guide explained this stand of spruces is a favorite roosting place for great horned owls.

Finding owl pellets. Our guide explained this stand of spruces is a favorite roosting place for great horned owls.

We also climbed a tower and saw a great view of Boston. I think the boys liked the tower the best.

At the top of the tower, looking across the Charles River towards Boston from Mt Auburn Cemetery.

At the top of the tower, looking across the Charles River towards Boston from Mt Auburn Cemetery.

Sphinx monument, a Civil War memorial at Mt Auburn cemetery

Sphinx monument, a Civil War memorial at Mt Auburn cemetery

And afterward we hooked up with friends who live nearby in Cambridge for a play date.

At the playground with Lucy's friend, E. Lucy is a few weeks older, but E is much bigger. Don't the two of them look like they could be cousins? I've sometimes mistaken pictures of E. for Lucy in my Facebook feed.

At the playground with Lucy’s friend, E. Lucy is a few weeks older, but E is much bigger. Don’t the two of them look like they could be cousins? I’ve sometimes mistaken pictures of E. for Lucy in my Facebook feed.

Lucia fell in love with this slide.

Lucia fell in love with this slide.

Slide!

Slide!

Anthony sliding.

Anthony sliding.

Over and over and over again.

Over and over and over again.

Afterwards

I love how field trips help us to dive deeper into a subject. Among other things, our guide had us looking at seed cones from a giant sequoia and talking about the widest and tallest trees. But we still had questions, so Dom found us this article:

The Oldest, Tallest, Widest and Biggest Trees in the World
. I’m sure in the coming weeks we’ll find many other topics to follow up on.

I feel an intensive season of Nature Study creeping up on us. We’ve got out the Comstock Handbook and so far have read up about crocuses, robins, sparrows, wasps (Bella asks: what do they do all day when they aren’t stinging people?), bumblebees. We’ve also looked up greenbottles online. And I have a mission to find out more about grey squirrels.

I definitely want to go back to Mt Auburn, maybe even make it a regular stop for family outings. Such a beautiful, fascinating place to visit.

2 Responses to Homeschooling Field Trip: Mount Auburn Cemetery

  1. Kristen @ St Monica's Bridge May 8, 2014 at 8:23 am #

    We have a nature preserve nearby that we need to investigate before the low temperature in the mornings is 90 degrees. And my boys are right with Bella on the wasps. In fact, we have so many lovely stinging insects (because we planted a butterfly garden and lots of plants that attract them, apparently!) that we’ve been investigating because the boys are so interested in the differences. And we have a very historic cemetery nearby that is more “urban” but still would be great for the kids to see. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Cathy J May 8, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

    And it is still an “active” cemetery, as it were: my parents are buried there. Cambridge Cemetery, across the street also has some impressive monuments, but you are much more on your own finding them.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes