The following is a guest post written by Linda Cerynik.
Field trips are one my favorite things about homeschooling. They make learning fun for you and your kids, and they give everyone a break from the routine of books, pencils and computers.
Field trips are a wonderful way to instill the value of lifelong learning in your children, as you both experience and discover new places together. Sometimes getting out of the house for a day gives you a little inspiration, or a spark of curiosity, reaffirming just why you chose to homeschool in the first place.
To make the most of your field trips, considering the following ideas:
Choosing your field trip
Museums, national or state parks, science centers and zoos are some great places to start. Your local theater, community orchestra or art show are other options.
However, you might consider a “routine” place for a field trip as well. We discovered that our local grocery store offers a 2 hour program for school groups. My friend contacted the store and scheduled a group for the homeschool community. A dozen or so kids registered through our local on-line group. When we arrived, a friendly manager provided the tour, including a lesson on nutrition and the food pyramid, as well as samples of food.
Are there local businesses, factories, or sports complexes that offer tours? Farms? Firehouses? Environmental centers? Be a tourist in your own city and find out what others come to town to see.
You could plan a service-oriented field trip, such as volunteering at the senior center or at your local animal shelter. Keep a list on the computer or in your personal organizer of potential field trips. Ask your kids where they would like to go.
We try to do at least one field trip per month, and my kids watch the calendar for when the next one will be! Field trips are the highlights of our school year.
Photo by See1,Do1,Teach1
Who will go on your field trip?
Although homeschooling can attract some independently minded people, consider asking others to come with you on your field trip. Is there another homeschooling family you have wanted to get to know? Would a grandparent like to come along? Perhaps you have a single friend who would enjoy a day out with your family. These are the days on which memories are made. Sometimes we need the reminder that everything is better shared!
But there may also be times you could use some quality time alone, just you and your kids.
What kind of field trip will this be?
If you and the kids just need a break, don’t put pressure on yourself to make the day any more than simply a fun day out.
Have no agenda. Enjoy talking on the ride there and back. Make the most of being Mom more than Teacher for the day. If you decide you want to step it up and make a little more of it, plan ahead.
Getting the most out of your day
Photo by Loren Kerns
Many typical venues (such as museums) offer teacher’s guides on their websites. You can download these for free and use them prior to your excursion.
There are also other ways to prepare your kids with information on the subject. For example, if you are going to visit the planetarium, check out some library books the week before on astronomy or do an Internet search. Ask your kids what they hope to learn on the trip.
Consider bringing clipboards and paper so they can do a writing response on the spot, after eating your brown bagged lunches. Or, the day after, review the trip with your kids. What was their favorite part? What surprised them? What questions were answered? What new questions arose? Would they recommend this place to a friend? Why or why not?
A written or creative response (a drawing, a poem, a play-doh /clay sculpture or collage) could wrap up the experience.
Flexibility is often cited as a reason families choose to homeschool.
Take full advantage of the scheduling freedom you have, and plan your next field trip today.
Find free field trips in your area: http://fieldtripfactory.com
Find field trip ideas in the Northeast USA: http://www.fieldtrip.com
Field trips listed by state and helpful websites: http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/trips/FieldTrips.htm
Where have you and your children been on a field trip recently?
Trevor @ tootlee.com
What an excellent resource you have provided. I really haven’t created a specific field trip for my kids, though we get out and do things. But I like the ideas of the grocery store or a firehouse. I’m looking forward to checking out the links you provided for more ideas as well.
I’m going to setup a field trip for the my girls and their cousins. I have some ideas but I’ll see what they are interested in. We can look at the website you provided together in the morning.
Thank you very much for sharing.
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Recently we met a couple who own a factory where decals are applied to ceramic vases and bottles. My “field trip radar” popped up, and I asked if we could tour! As it turns out, my husband took our daughter, and I didn’t get to go. But they said it was a fascinating experience. There aren’t a lot of traditional cultural experiences where I live (theater, museums, concerts, etc), but there is always something to learn if we are creative!
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melissa aka equidae
Although I cant homeschool as its illegal in our country, I did decide to do homeschooling as an aside and field trips are high on the agenda 🙂 my son is still a toddler but I love thinking of all the places I can take him when he is older 🙂 thanks for this it has good points for me to consider when the time comes
I have never done official school field trips for school before… this year is our first after eight years of homeschooling!!! We did lots of outings but they were never called field trips. Well this year we are working through the River Cottage Cook Book and at the end of each chapter we visit a relevant place – the cheese factory, the flour mill and so on!!! My kids love them and pack and plan their bags with notebooks and clipboards and soon as we get near the end of the chapter!!! They have kept fabulous journals from trips to the shark center and really it’s been great to “formalize” our ramblings somewhat… it is a whole new subject that they just love!!! It has really been quite easy to find unusual places and often if you ask they will do a quick tour or already have excellent resources for homeschoolers… It has been really fun for all of us!!!
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I Live in an Antbed
Great post! We LOVE field trips! In fact, we just returned from one over the weekend to a wonderful zoo and to Homestead Heritage, where we saw blacksmiths, woodworkers, weavers, a grist mill, etc. Thanks for the links!
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Kara @Simple Kids
We try to go on at least one field trip a month, too. I have to say, though, that we haven’t been thinking as out of the box as you have. A grocery store? That’s great! I’m going to be putting some more thought to this to see what adventures we can have that I may not have thought of before.
Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂
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we’re currently living abroad and i sooo miss having simple things like a library with books in our language… and apparently grocery stores that give tours! but we have the privilege of living in one of the seven cities mentioned in revelation (and the other 6 aren’t far from us, either!). talk about some fun field trips we can have! too bad my kids are so young they’re probably not soaking in too much of it yet. 🙂
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I wish my children loved field trips as much as I do! We travelled and toured our country for almost a year and it was like being on a permanent field trip. Perhaps my eldest burnt out with visits to museums and historical places. They enjoy the occassional outing, but I could go somewhere every month. I love the guide explaining stuff, but I must keep quiet. I now have to take them out informally.
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The restaurant California Pizza Kitchen gives a fun tour (and yes- kids make their own pizzas)
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we did a unit on france for my 6 y.o. girl (and tag along boy preK). since we live in las vegas, we went to the Paris Hotel on The Strip. we ate croissants, hot chocolate and tarts in the cafe and took a ride up the “eiffel tower” to look out over las vegas. VERY fun for them! LV also has the Shark Reef Aquarium which is a wonderful outing. For an “everyday” place, some pet stores will do tours for playgroups/homeschool groups so that would be something to check.
thanks again for a great topic jamie! i think i will chk into the CPK tour. 🙂
amy in peru
we just went to the milk/yogurt/cheese factory for a field trip 🙂 it’s a small scale deal, but it was fun to compare to other places we’ve been both smaller (another in Peru) as well as several bigger plants (in the US)… I’m starting to feel quite at home in cheese factories 🙂
I’m really wanting to go to an art show this week… they are so few and far between, gotta take advantage!
amy in peru
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We make everything into a field trip! We don’t plan ahead most of the time, we just talk to people when we’re in public and they’re often really happy to let us into their worlds. For instance, when my 10 y/o had an eye appointment because of some headaches, she and my husband got talking with the doctor and he showed her all around his office and how to use the equipment. He was really excited by how interested she was, and really got into showing her things. We find that’s often the case. We’ve struck up conversations and toured an Ethiopian restaurant, the vet’s office, DNR offices… People are often really pleased when children take an interest in their worlds and really go all out. 🙂
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We haven’t done a field trip this year. Our first trip is next week. Here in California on the OC Fair Grounds, there is a small farm that people can go to and see animals and learn how to take care of them. On specific days, you can go and learn how to mild a cow. That is why we are going, my daughter wants to learn how to milk a cow. It should be a fun adventure.
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Some years I have been better about doing field trips with my boys than others. No matter where we go, however, I try to foster a spirit of curiosity in them. So, if we’re at the doctor’s office, we ask questions. This turns ordinary trips to the doctor or to the store into a field trip of sorts. I do plan to work in more full-fledged field trips again this coming year, though, because I think we’ve all missed them. 🙂 Thanks for the tips!
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