A huge part of why we homeschool is to have the freedom to explore and learn about the world around us outside of the classroom walls. We want to be able to dig deeper into our interests and further explore subjects we are reading about in our text books. Field trips are a big part of that.
Since Field Trip Friday is now a big deal at our house and we have quite a few trips under our belt, I wanted to share some field trip tips with you. I want you to get out, explore and make the very most of your time.
Make A List
At the very beginning of the school year, the kids and I make a list of possible field trip destinations. We start with those in and around our town. These make great afternoon trips. Then, we branch out to those which are a bit farther drive, but still perfect for a day trip. Last, we think of where grandparents and friends live. We make a list of field trip spots that we could visit if we make a weekend trip to see family or friends.
Pick A Day
We like our Field Trip Fridays. It is the capstone on the week. It is something we all look forward to. Scheduling a field trip day gives us all incentive to get our school and house work completed during the rest of the week. If the work is not done, we don’t go.
Put It On The Calendar
Go through your list of field trip possibilities and decide which ones would work best at what time of year. For instance, we schedule the apple orchard for late September/early October for obvious reasons. Just use common sense when scheduling.
Do Your Research
Many field trip destinations have some sort of a education director and materials available for teachers to prepare for their visit. Lots of times, these resources are on their web sites for easy downloads. Take advantage of these. There might be prep material for you and your kids to get ready for your trip or their might be activity downloads for you to complete while you are on the field trip. If these resources are not available, there is always Google!
Find The People In The Know
I used to try and figure things out on my own when we went on field trips. “Just give me a map and leave me alone.” Not anymore. I know look for people in the know. Most places have some sort of welcome or information desk. Tell them who you are and what you are doing there. We have found that most of the time, those people manning the desk are volunteers and are there because they are passionate about wherever it is you happen to be. These people can be treasure troves of information. If they are not, they know who is.
More than once, we have made friends with volunteers manning the front desk and before our trip was over we have had the director of the entire facility or an expert find us during our trip and offer us a private, behind the scenes tour – all because we were friendly, we asked and we were genuinely interested in where we were.
Visit The Gift Shops
I know. I know. Never take kids in gift shops unless you have money to burn. This used to be my philosophy, too. Until I realized that if you get past the junk in the clear plastic bins when you first walk in, there are usually amazing resources hidden in there. After our trip and while the kids are still interested in what we just saw, I look for books, maps, games – something interesting and unique that we can take home right then and dive into or revisit over the next few days. This makes the learning last. I don’t always find something in the gift shop and I sometimes come out with a fake stick frog or a bag of rocks, but sometimes I find a real treasure.
Get Out There
What are you waiting for? Plan your trip and get out there!
How often do you have field trips? Do you have any field trip tips to share?