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Learning Near a Big City

I grew up in a city but my heart belonged to the beach on the edge of the city.

I moved to another city for college and another city for marriage and it’s no New York, but it’s a great city and we love it.

One of our favorite questions to ask each other is “Do you want to live in the city or the country?”

None of us can answer with a distinct yes or no.

I love the idea of wide open spaces for my children to roam, of a slower life, of a closer relationship with nature.

I also love my library, my coffee shop, a short drive to the grocery store, and a life without wildlife that gets too friendly.

No matter how we might answer the question in the hypothetical, our trip to Chicago this past week had me mentally planning school as if all of the great places we visited were just around the corner.

First we visited Oak Park, and took a walk around the neighborhood, picking out our “new” house.  A lot of the houses looked prime for secret crawl spaces and hidden rooms.  The neighborhood is also home to the studio of Frank Lloyd Wright and many houses designed by him can be found nearby.  We dragged our hot and sweaty selves into our friend’s favorite bookstore.  I’ve always dreamed of walking from our house to a coffee shop, park, and library.  (That’s one point for the city side of the question).

For the rest of the week we parked ourselves in Batavia, an hour out of Chicago and surrounded by great little towns and more than we could do in our short time (add 4 kids and two tired parents).

We were all impressed with the Dupage Children’s Museum.  If you’ve been to a children’s museum, you tasted a piece of this three story exploratorium.  Famous art lined the walls with correalating activities in color, sound, and structure.  In my head I planned our return trips.  First we’d study color and shadows and head back to that section next time.  Then we’d study construction, a unit on wood and tools and head back to the construction exhibit.  Then we’d come back and just explore the section with giant tools to build marble runs. If we lived there.

The next day we took the train to the Field Museum.

The Museum blew us all away and we didn’t even get to see two of the exhibits because there is so much to see. Oh my, the Underground Adventure where you get to see what’s under the soil as if you’re the size of an ant. Our six year old still sincerely believes he was shrunk to half and inch for thirty minutes of his life!

The egyptians, the native americans, the dinosaurs, the animals, oh my.

My favorite area was the section on North American Birds.  Every single bird was represented. Birds we had only read about and now we got to examine them up close.  I wanted to get sketch books and come back-every week!  If we lived there.

And finally we visited the Aboretium.  If you’re familiar with Nashville, this was like Cheekwood hiked up three levels.  An amazing children’s section designed to get kids close to nature.  A garden maze, and miles of trails.  My friend asked me, “If you were a member here, how many times would you visit in the year?”  Twice a month, or even better yet, once a week and that would be school for the day.

We’re not pulling up roots and moving out of Nashville, but I do wish we could pull up Nashville and move it atleast four hours closer to Chicago.


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