Keep It Simple, Stupid.  That was the jest of my dear friend's response when I was stressing about my homeschooling.  "Am I covering all the curriculum standards?  Are the kids at the right learning level?  Should I be doing more... or should I be doing less??  What if she isn't reading at grade level?  What if he gets too far ahead of his age group?  What if, what if, what if???"  I was home for a month while Mark was bringing our boat up to the Caribbean, and I needed to re-evaluate our schooling.  What I realized, with the nudge from a fellow homeschooler, was that I was putting too much pressure on myself and not having fun exploring and learning along the way!  I needed to find ways to still learn the basics necessary while also leaving enough time and energy to learn about what we were getting to see!  I was determined to fix what wasn't working and find new and exciting books and materials to enhance our learning in the Caribbean.  I had fun thinking of what learning would apply to our travels.  I compiled a themed unit for various topics:  Life on and Island, Ocean Life, Seashores, Wind, Clouds, Weather, Moon Phases, Pirates, Rocks and Minerals, Flags, Waves and Currents, Maps, and the list goes on.  I found books, videos, crafts, experiments and activities that corresponded with each unit.  Some of the units are done in a week, and some are ongoing, depending on the content.  It has turned out to be a great way to spruce up our school days and literally learn as we traveled!

Here are some examples of what we've done in our unit studies...

Elizabeth's St. Lucia flag
materials:  FLAGS of the WORLD book, courtesy flags (small flags we fly while in other countries), markers, paper, journals
what we do: each time we enter a new country/island, we learn about what the flags look like and the significance of the design.  Kids make a flag and then write in their journal about it.  They also help Mark raise the flag once we are checked in through customs.

Michael raising the St. Vincent/Grenadines flag

materials: construction paper, books Roger the Jolly Pirate, The Best Book of Pirates, Pirate School (series of chapter books), Jolly Roger song sheet
what we did: read the book about the jolly pirate, and learned how to make a Jolly Roger pirate flag, made pirate hats to wear with our best mean faces!, imagined what it would be like to live on a pirate ship, learned about the famous Caribbean pirates, checked out imitation pirate ships anchored in the bays we visit, spoke in Pirate-ese (land ho!, ahoy matey, walk the plank!), made our own treasure maps, enjoyed lots of imaginative play, and sang the Jolly Roger song over and over and over and over til Mommy and Daddy were ready to abandon ship!!

Arg! Shiver me timbers, matey!

enjoyed a steel drum band and mango ice-cream!
materials: books Caribbean Dream, My Island and I, My Little Island, maps of each island, watercolors and paper, various tropical fruits and spices found on islands, reggae music
what we did: made watercolor paintings of the beach and ocean, went to visit an open-air produce stand and tried some soursop, mango, papaya, bananas, cinnamon, and nutmeg, talked to locals to hear their dialect, talked about how the islands were formed from volcanoes, found lava rock or pumice along the beach, listened to reggae music and watched a steel drum band, played a small drum in one of the markets, took a tour of the hot springs and sulphur pools, learned about the plants found on the islands, walked through an old fort and an old sugar mill, saw a fish market and someone blowing the conch shell, and much more...

Elizabeth at the spice market, smelling the curry and cinnamon
Our watercolor beaches

Michael's cumulus and stratus clouds
Now, we are starting our weather unit.  This past week, we have learned about clouds.  The three levels of clouds, the shapes of clouds, the names of clouds, and what they tell us about the weather.  The kids have had fun looking for the clouds in the sky as we're sailing, and they've also made their own cloud formations from a bag of cotton balls I picked up in a marina pharmacy.  

Next, we will learn about the water cycle and wind!  Lots of real life application in that unit!!  I am having more fun teaching with these units, and the kids are enjoying it, too.  They just soak it all up!  

We have figured out that no one does any good trying to do school while we are under way.  During our passages, you will find the kids doing one of the following...
sleeping or resting

playing on the iPad
helping Daddy navigate
playing bumper bodies with lifejackets on!
A few other random shots from our most recent travels around the islands...
learning to paddle the kayak

spotting iguanas 

dinghy fishing

swinging on the lines like Tarzan!
 And the learning continues...simply.

PS - I am really here, I'm just usually the one holding the camera!  But all these photos show Mark as the "Superdad" that he truly is!!


  1. I think your little curriculum shows what a Super Mom/Teacher you are! I don't think I could do it. Not enough rum on the seas...

    P.S. I'm loving Michael's hair long!


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