Vacation planning and coming up with roadschooling activities are two of my favorite things to do. After a year of minimal travel (we did actually get back to Jamestown, Yorktown, Williamsburg, and Walt Disney World in the Fall of 2020) we’re excited to embark on a trip to the Outer Banks. If you’re looking for ways to bring learning to your trip to OBX, check out some of my recent roadschooling resources for your family vacation in The Outer Banks of North Carolina. For quick reference download the Outer Banks Unit Study Lesson Plan.
this post contains affiliate links
When we began homeschooling in 2012, we made sure to incorporate education into our travel. Since then, it’s become a regular part of our homeschool lifestyle.
Roadschooling Resources for Your Family Vacation: The Wright Brothers – First in Flight
When I first began my research, I knew that we definitely wanted to visit The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. So we began our Outer Banks roadschooling by reading through Who Were The Wright Brothers, by James Buckley, Jr. While we didn’t use one this time, in the past, we’ve enjoyed using the Who Was Mini Unit Studies from Jessica at The Waldock Way. If you’re looking to extend your Wright Brothers lessons, I highly recommend these lesson plans; Jessica has created an easy way for parents to help kids build upon what they learn in the book. She also offers quite a few extension activities, video suggestions, and projects to turn a 10-chapter book into a unique learning experience.
Flight-themed Titles for Unit Study Rabbit Trails
Homeschooling often leads us on fun rabbit trails of discovery. While researching The Wright Brothers, we also learned about Emma Lilian Todd, the first woman to design an airplane. The book Wood, Wire, Wings – Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane. For a fun treat, check out this animation from Kristina Yee of the National Film and Television School, UK entitled, Miss Lee.
Additional Rabbit Trail Titles:
Roadschooling Resources for Your Family Vacation: Blackbeard in the Outer Banks
No roadschooling trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina would be complete without learning about the infamous pirate, Blackbeard. The Outer Banks are unique in that they possess deep inlets and river routes to the mainland of North Carolina. Additionally, the monumental sand dunes provided a perfect environment for the types of activities popular with pirates; plundering, hiding, and being sneaky.
From the 1600s this area of North Carolina was home to two important ports. Here goods would come through before they reached their final destinations. It was a central location for deliveries to Boston and the West Indies. The channels throughout the Outer Banks were also ideal for pirates roaming these waters. Virginia governor, Alexander Spotswood ultimately assisted merchants in capturing Blackbeard in 1718.
Blackbeard in the Carolinas
While war raged, Edward Teach was hired by the British Government as a privateer. He was ordered to halt (attack and steal from) enemy merchant ships. Once the war ended in 1714, however, Teach was left without an income. He then resorted to piracy aboard a ship he commandeered and renamed Queen Anne’s Revenge. Blackbeard spent approximately three years attacking ships off of both North and South Carolina as well as Virginia. Most notably, in our current home city of Charleston, South Carolina, Blackbeard, as he had then come to be known, took citizens hostage in exchange for medical supplies for his crew.
Blackbeard made his home in the coastal region of North Carolina, specifically the Outer Banks and Ocracoke island. The barrier islands provided him exactly what he needed to lay low. There are some accounts that while he terrorized ships, his neighbors enjoyed the fruits of his ‘labor’ and purchased stolen goods from him. Eventually, Governor Spotswood and Lieutenant Robert Maynard set sail to try to capture Blackbeard, which they succeeded at doing in November of 1718.
Blackbeard’s Treasure Math Activities
Because we would spend some time visiting notable Blackbeard locations throughout the Outer Banks, I wanted to include a few resources to bring this part of history alive for my son. Throughout our week-long Outer Banks roadschooling unit, we used Looking for Blackbeard’s Treasure: Measuring the Distance, one of the iMath Readers series books. It includes a variety of math activities that were both fun and engaging for my almost 10-year old. He especially enjoyed the Comparing Distances activity in the book where we used airplanes he made from instructions in the Usborne 100 Paper Planes to Fold & Fly. He measured the distance each of his planes flew, marked it on the chart, converted it from feet to yards, and then recorded the distances on a line plot.
Incorporating the plane activity into the Blackbeard math lessons was a great way to pull together the Wright Brothers component of this unit study. You could also purchase a foam or balsa wood plane kit from Dollar Tree to complete this activity. There’s just something about hands-on activities that can truly engage a child and get them excited about learning.
At the end of the week, we read Blackbeard by Pat Croce. (Though, I wish I had read this one prior to using it as a bedtime read-aloud as it ends of course in the beheading of Blackbeard – not the best thing to think about right before going to bed, so something to note for your family.)
The Outer Banks is home to The Lost Colony, an outdoor theater experience that brings history to life with epic battles and historic Indian dances. The theater is located at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. We will visit the historic site so that my son can earn a Junior Ranger Badge.
Outer Banks Homeschool History
Earlier this school year we spent time working in the Evan-Moor Colonial America History Pockets book right before our roadschooling trip to Historic Jamestown and Jamestown Settlement. The activities in the book also include a section on The Lost Colony. This was quite interesting for my 9-year old son. We revisited the time period this spring ahead of our Outer Banks roadschooling trip. Everything he learned back in the fall, just seemed to click.
I created a Language arts and Reading portion for our unit study using Roanoke The Lost Colony: An Unsolved Mystery From History by Jane Yolen. The book is unique in that it’s set up in several parts; the background information section denoted by notebook page illustrations –I read this section aloud to my son. He read the historical account aloud and then I had him record the vocabulary words in his notebook. The end of the book includes an engaging timeline with hypotheses. It invites the reader to use critical thinking skills to come up with their own theories as to what happened to The Lost Colony. There are also website links to extend the learning if you so choose.
Extension Activity Mail Order Mystery Treasure Hunt Summer Fun
To close out our Outer Banks unit study, we opted to do two things. The first was to create our own treasure and treasure map – an activity noted at the end of the Looking for Blackbeard’s Treasure book. The second activity I planned to close out this unit study, was to sign up for the Mail Order Mystery: Treasure Hunt. This will be a fun way to end our unit and get the Summer started on the right foot! The mystery includes 5 mailings with codes and puzzles to solve, culminating with a final treasure box at the end of the adventure. I’m certain my problem-solving, critical thinker is going to love this interactive experience!
Additional Resources for a North Carolina Outer Banks Unit Study
We absolutely love read-alouds in our home. Whenever we visit a new location I like to find books set in the area. For The Outer Banks, we initially started reading The Parker House by Audra Krieg, but I don’t think my son and I were ready for what seemed to be a supernatural element (we didn’t finish, so I can’t be sure) I’ll keep this book on the shelf for him to come back to on his own, when and if he’s ready.
We refer to United Tweets of America, 50 State Birds to incorporate state birds into our ongoing Ornithology Unit Study. We couple that throughout the year with nature journaling and implement what we learn in the John Muir Laws Nature Connection video series.
Learning on the road has been a key part of our homeschool lifestyle over the years and roadschooling is one of my favorite ways to bring education to life in a hands-on and engaging way. Since we love to travel and do so often, incorporating learning along the way during our adventures, is just a natural part of our homeschool lifestyle.