If you’ve been around long, you’ve likely heard me say (and seen me write) that should I ever write a book, it’s likely to be titled, Homeschooling by the Field Trip Method. We love field trips. I believe they take what can be dry, boring books and subjects and turn them into living, breathing miracles in education.
I began taking Ben on field trips in preschool. There are some he still remembers today.
There have been some field trips I have paid a pretty penny for (museums tend to cost a lot of $$$). But most of our field trips are very frugal. And the opportunities are all around you! There are likely some you’ve considered, and others you have never even thought about.
Today, I’m going to share a few of both.
1. Visit a local historical site. Every state has a history and discovering your state’s history and then visiting places that make it come to life is something I believe every family (homeschooling or not) should take time to do. Options might be your state Capitol, state parks, war sites, pioneer villages, old cemeteries, the birthplaces of presidents and other famous people and monuments.
2. Take your children on a community helper or civic field trip. Call your local fire department, police department, airport, post office or campaign headquarters and ask for a tour. Most are thrilled to accommodate you. Even some veterinarians, chiropractors, or dentists are willing to share with your children about their jobs.
3. Factories and other businesses will often offer educational tours for free or for a low cost. Look for factories that produce cars, food or drink, toys, furniture, or other local industries. Visiting a factory that produces something your state is known for will add to your state history study! We even have a local pizza headquarters that will give tours and feed us yummy pizza! Our local water company provides tours, teaching students how icky river water is turned into drinking water. Whole Foods stores and other grocery stores will sometimes give free educational tours as well.
4. Local farms are a great place for a field trip. Apple orchards, u-pick pumpkin farms, horse farms, and maple syrup festivals are among our favorites! Often, along with picking fruit, the farms will provide an educational talk or tour as well.
5. If you have an animal-lover in your family, a visit to your local animal shelter for a tour will be a huge it. This also may be an opportunity to learn more about volunteerism (volunteer as a family to walk dogs once a month) and fundraising (get together with other homeschool families and arrange a pet food donation drive). We visited a local pet store that had a veterinary clinic in the back and asked for an impromptu tour. They were happy to show us around, and we even got to observe a dog having surgery!
6. Exploring nature can be one of the best field trips of all! You can do a nature study based on any of a number of things — local flora and fauna of your state, animal tracking, creeks, ponds or rivers, different kinds of rocks, insects, or tree identification by leaves and bark. Just head to a local park or nature preserve and be sure to bring along a nature journal, colored pencils, a magnifying glass, and some plastic baggies and plastic bowls with lids for collecting. Then let your children explore and record their findings!
7. Look for opportunities to observe local college theatre groups, bands, or orchestras practice or even perform for free or for a very low cost. You may even have a children’s theatre, ballet company or orchestra that performs matinees for school groups at a low cost. Homeschoolers are almost always welcome to school group performances.
8. Check out Field Trip Factory for fun and free field trips available in your area. You may need to organize a group to attend these field trips, but they are usually well run and interesting. Some are done virtually, from the comfort of your home, and include lesson plans.
This is just as starting list, to get your creative juices flowing. Think about what interests your children or what they are already learning, and build a field trip around these things. Never be afraid to call and ask for a tour or short educational talk. A simple phone call may provide you and your students with an experience that will stick with them much longer than that history book.