Field trips are one of the best hands-on learning opportunities around. The best part about homeschooling is that you can go on field trips as often as you like with no limits (other than financial restraints) on how far you can go.
As you’re planning your upcoming school year, be aware of opportunities to take your learning on the road by planning homeschool field trips to tie in to the topics you’re studying – or just for fun! Need some ideas? Some of our favorites have included:
1. K-9 demonstration. Two officers from our local police department came to a church gym that we’d secured for the day and brought their K-9 partners. That was such a cool experience! The officers did several different demonstrations and we learned about how the dogs are trained. I highly recommend setting up a demonstration with your local police station if they have police dogs.
2. Doughnut shop. This tour resulted in one of the biggest turn-outs ever for one of our group’s field trips. I mean, really, a doughnut shop. Need I say more? We got to see the entire process of how the doughnuts were made – and we all got a free doughnut!
3. Fire station. Fire stations are always cool. Plan your visit for National Fire Safety Week in October to maximize the learning opportunity. You might even score coloring books and plastic fire fighter hats.
4. TV stations. I think we managed to hit all three major network affiliates in our area – and we learned something every time. Once we went specifically to visit the meteorologist and learn about the weather. This is especially interesting during hurricane or tornado season, when your kids can learn more about severe weather events.
5. Radio stations. As with TV stations, it’s fascinating to see what goes on behind the scenes at the radio stations we listen to every day.
6. Coca-Cola Bottling. We did this very early in our homeschooling journey, but it’s still one of our most memorable field trips. I’ve never seen a place as clean as that Coca-Cola plant. It was fascinating to learn how the cans are filled and the lids put on. If you don’t have a Coca-Cola plant near you, any beverage bottling plant would probably be similar – except, you know, they won’t give you yummy Cokes at the end.
7. Museums. We’ve visited history, science, train, children’s, and archaeology museums. Ask around. You may be surprised to discover small, local museums that you didn’t even know existed.
8. Walking tours. One of my favorite field trips was a walking tour of our city. So often we miss the learning opportunities that are all around us, especially as relates to the history and interesting sites in our own city. A walking tour slows you down and allows you to catch things you miss when you’re driving through.
9. Grocery stores. It’s often a joke that homeschoolers can turn a trip to the grocery store into a field trip, but we really have gone on an official grocery store field trip. It was arranged through The Field Trip Factory, a nifty little site with all sorts of field trip opportunities. We learned about nutrition and food safety, and the kids got to taste test a variety of fruits and vegetables.
10. Zoos and aquariums. We always enjoyed tying aquarium or zoo visits into studies about animals, habitats, and geography. One time, we took a map of the world and tried to find at least one animal from each continent. You could get really creative and put together a little scavenger hunt or bingo board for your next zoo or aquarium visit, too.
Gregg Harris has a great book called A-Z Guide to Homeschool Field Trips that makes a great homeschool field trip resource. I think it’s out of print now, but if you can get your hands on a copy, I highly recommend it. It lists all sorts of ideas for places you can go – and places you might be going anyway, such as the doctor or dentist’s office.
The book also suggests lots of questions students might want to ask and topics you might want to research further after the trip. Those question ideas are perfect for avoiding the uncomfortable silence that so often follows the inevitable query, “Does anyone have any questions?”
What are some field trips that you and your family have really enjoyed?
updated from an article originally published May 4, 2010.
images courtesy of depositphotos