Opportunities for Learning With Field Trips
Whether you follow a strict school schedule or are a more relaxed homeschooler, taking time to explore your community through field trips will provide endless opportunities for learning. Field trips are an important aspect of education as kids get to see, hear, and do.
Oral histories and hands-on experiences lead to discovery learning, which is the kind of learning that really sticks. My kids recall things they’ve heard from the people who experienced them much more than they do from simply reading about them in books.
From the different perspectives of World War II as a young Jewish girl or as a young American soldier, to walking around in Shoeless Joe Jackson’s house, these real experiences leave a lasting impression on kids.
Learning First Hand
When I taught in a public school classroom and ventured out to a museum with my classes to see a Holocaust exhibit, not only was it the first time most of the students had even been in a museum, but the artifacts and displays immersed them in the history we had been reading about. They got to see first-hand that history is real. Those kids will never forget that.
We had been reading Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl in class, and the Anne Frank exhibit at the state museum impacted my students beyond words. They quickly went from horseplay and joking around to silent reverence and even tears. I could tell that they were moved as they began to discuss what they had seen during the bus ride back to school.
I’ve learned that all you have to do is ask, and people are often more than willing to provide a field trip for you. (Don’t forget to send them a thank you note!) Since we’ve been homeschooing, we have witnessed two Honor Flight arrivals, listened to first-hand accounts from WWII and Vietnam veterans, and met a heroic woman who survived Kristallnacht and shared how she felt as a schoolgirl seeing Nazi flags being flown on the buildings of her neighborhood.
We have been to war museums, a varitey of farms, fire stations, printing press, behind the scenes at the post office, a working grist mill, and seen ancient Native American pictographs. Become a tourist in your own city, and think about all the places that could become a field trip.
The Ultimate List of Free or Low-Cost Field Trips:
- Art museum
- American Legion museum
- History museum
- Baseball museum
- Professional sports team training camp
- U-pick farm
- Organic farm
- Alpaca farm
- Chicken farm
- Goat farm
- Reptile park
- Plant nursery
- Grain mill
- State parks
- Fish hatchery
- Horse stables
- Zoo (membership saves money if you go often or have a large family, and is often reciprocal)
- Veterinary clinic
- Dental clinic
- Nursing home
- Restaurants (cost of food only, usually w/ a group discount and educational talk/tour included)
- Grocery Store (Behind-the-scenes tours)
- Local colleges and universities
- Library tours/talks/classes
- Post office
- Fire station
- Police station
- City Hall (meet the mayor)
- Television station
- Radio station
- Newspaper office
- Book printer
- Civic center
- Free children’s concerts given by the local symphony
- Children’s theater performances
- Historical homes
- Historical monuments
- Manufacturing plant
- Recycling center
- Waste-water treatment facility
Have any ideas to add to the list? Add them in the comments!