A quiet hike through the woods, a civil war reenactment, an alpaca farm, a bakery tour – field trips are an ideal way to incorporate hands-on and memorable lessons into your homeschooling plans.
The type of field trip you schedule will most likely correspond with the subject you’re studying, but it doesn’t have to. Opportunities to make learning fun are worth interrupting the regular school schedule, even if it doesn’t quite fit with the lesson. If you have the time, you can often find unit studies, lessons, or other resources online to supplement what was learned during the field trip, particularly if you are going to see a performance such as a play or ballet.
Although some activities require admission fees and could be costly if you have several children, there are also many field trip opportunities that are free. You may have to ask around to find them, but you can arrange field trips for both your family as well as large groups. Below are some ideas to get you started.
The displays in the science centers usually cover a large range of topics, from the human body to animals to the weather. Most of them have a lot of hands-on activities for children, from the very young to high school students. While these centers charge for admission, you can often buy a year’s pass for your family so you can go whenever you want to without paying the admission price again. These passes will usually include admission into other science centers in different cities as well.
Zoos and Nature Centers
These also require admission, but again, you can often buy a year’s pass to a zoo that includes admission to many different zoos across the country. We have a nature center in a nearby town that offers these passes; when you purchase one from this center, it includes admission not only to the zoos but also to the science centers.
An ideal place to go for your children to see first-hand what they’ve been studying. Many museums host traveling displays, so if you can, get on an email list with your museum so you’ll be updated when the displays change.
For a few dollars in admission, your family can step back into time and visit a Revolutionary or Civil War campground. Period clothing, shelter, food, beds, and other items are displayed by enthusiasts for the public to see. Re-enactors love the historical period they portray and love to share their knowledge with children.
Historical Monuments and Buildings
If you did some research on your town, you’d probably find some historical sites to show to your children. It could be a marker, a home, a statue, a bridge – something to honor a life or incident that made a difference in the community. Do some background research with your child before you visit the site.
A great place to go when you’re studying nature. A hike through a state park can lead to many interesting discoveries. Take a journal to draw or describe your findings, and then investigate them further when you get home. Some parks offer classes for students as well.
These could be as varied as a concert by a blue-grass band or the city’s symphony. Art and Craft fairs often have local performers, and nearby colleges present concerts for the public.
Dramas and Dances
Check with your town’s theaters and dance companies for upcoming performances. Check with local colleges and universities as well – they sometimes presents plays for children.
Find out what farms are close enough for you to visit. Don’t limit yourself to a traditional farm; see if there are other farms around as well. Dairy farms, bee farms, goat farms, worm farms, and horse farms present some interesting opportunities.
Stores and Restaurants
Many places of business will offer free tours if you just ask. Try your local grocery store, pet store, music store, home improvement store, printing shop, bakery, or pizza parlor. Check with your local library as well – they’ll give tours too.
Business leaders, professionals, craftsmen, artists, musicians
If you know an individual who works in a specialized field, consider bringing them in to your group for a presentation. Libraries will sometimes provide rooms for such meetings, as will churches or community centers.
Public Service Organizations
Fire departments, police departments, post offices, water treatment plants, recycling centers – these are just a few of the places that welcome students to tour their facilities for free.
Community Service Opportunities
Field trips can include excursions to help others in the community. Cleaning up historic parks or graveyards, visiting nursing homes and retirement centers, or planting flowers in a city park all provide rewarding learning experiences.
As you record your field trips, don’t forget about the trips your family takes throughout the year. Even if it’s a familiar trip to the grandparents’ home, chances are, as with any field trip, there will be something new to experience and discover each time.
By Guest Blogger: Samantha Bell
Photo by Mollivan Jon