49 Fun & Educational Field Trips
- Katie Layne Contributing Writer
- 2005 7 Jul
Sometimes our homeschooling needs "something", some kind of a spark, something new and different, something that doesn't necessarily involve pencils and paper, something that gets our bodies moving and our spirits refreshed. Sometimes we need-a field trip!
Field trips can be used for wide and varied purposes. Sometimes a field trip is just what is needed to kick off a unit study, or to pull everything together at the end of a period of study. Field trips can be used to spark interest in a variety of topics, or fields of work or study, which may lead to our students making a new invention or getting interested in a field that may one day become their life's work.
Did you ever wonder why so many public school classes take field trips in the spring? Could it be that the students and teachers are tired of being cooped up all year in a classroom and just want to get out and about in the fresh air? Oftentimes, the field trips are not even what you could consider "educational", but nonetheless, everyone in the class gets on a school bus and off they go for the day. Therefore, I believe we can add one more purpose for field trips to our list above--fun! Field trips can be taken just for the fun of it.
Before heading out on a field trip, it's a good idea to remind our children that proper behavior, manners and dress are important. We need to make sure our children understand how we expect them to behave in the type of surroundings we will be visiting. We may want to discuss using quiet, polite voices inside public buildings, determine how our group will stay together, or how much freedom each is allowed to have. We also need to let our children know if they will or will not be allowed to touch things they see, and remind them to show respect for property and people around them.
If you are going to tour a facility that is not normally open to the public, or anywhere else that you will require a tour guide, be sure to call ahead to set up a time for your tour and find out if they have any special instructions for you.
Today I'm going to list tons of field trip ideas that I hope will spark your imagination and get you and your family out on some great, fun, educational field trips. Oh, and don't forget to take your camera along with you!
1. Manufacturing facility. This would include any factory where cars, equipment, tools, toys, packaging or anything else is manufactured. The mechanized equipment and assembly lines are fascinating to watch and it is interesting to learn which raw materials are used and how they are used to make the final product.
2. Farm. This could be a "specialty" farm that grows some sort of specialty crop, a dairy farm, a farm that grows more ordinary crops such as wheat or corn, maple syrup farm, apple orchard or anyplace where food is grown. Think about the best time of year to visit each type of farm based on what operations may be going on at the time-planting, harvesting, cider making, sap gathering, etc.
3. Fire Department. Learn a bit about fire safety, how firemen fight fires, the gear they wear, and how they live.
4. Daily Newspaper. See the huge rolls of paper used and how the printing process works.
5. Post Office. When we toured our local post office, we were told to bring along postcards addressed to ourselves and were able to watch the postal workers process our own cards, which we then received at home in the mail a day later.
6. Food processing/packaging facility. Think about places that bottle soda, or make potato chips or cookies, or marshmallows, or candy, or any other type of food, or canneries where they can fruits or vegetables. The massive quantity of ingredients and mammoth size of equipment used is really something to see. It is interesting to learn how many pounds of sugar or flour are used per day to prepare the food at that particular facility. Often the process involves huge mixers, conveyer belts going through ovens, then on into special cooling rooms and other things that are fun and interesting to watch. This can start some neat discussions about preparing food at home for Thanksgiving or another large gathering! Sometimes you even get samples on these field trips!!
7. Military or National Guard Installation. Learn about what their duties are, what gear they use, what training they receive, and what types of situations they respond to.
8. A State or National Park. Learn about nature, plants and animals of the area. (Note: In these types of parks - as well as in the other science-oriented places listed in this article - the theory of evolution is usually presented as fact. This can provide a good opportunity for your family to study the Biblical account of creation and the scientific basis for the Christian viewpoint.)
9. Museum. There are large, well-known museums, but there are often small, little-known museums around as well that are quite interesting to visit. Check around your area to see what is available. Again, be prepared for evolutionary content. In addition, some museums (particularly art museums) may contain displays that don't fit your family's standards. Use appropriate parental caution when planning a field trip to these types of places.
10. Lock and Dam. Often there is a display area showing the history of the area and displays where you can learn how a lock and dam works. Plan your visit around a time when a ship or ships are due to pass through.
11. Pioneer Day Events. Many places across the country have special festivals or events where the lifestyle of the pioneers is the main focus. Here you can see pioneer craftsmen, equipment, cabins, clothing, animals and "experience" life as it was in our earlier history.
12. Jewelers Shop. Find a jeweler in your area that creates or repairs jewelry and plan a visit to see the tools and skills used.
13. State Capitol. Visit when congress is in session and sit in the visitor's gallery for awhile. Tour the building looking especially for pictures or plaques commemorating our Godly heritage. As you pass through the halls, pray for our leaders!
14. Lumber Mill. See how lumber is milled and hauled.
15. Ceramics Shop. Learn about the craft and how a kiln works.
16. Veterinarian. Learn about the profession and pet care.
17. Library. Learn about the Dewey Decimal System and how to use it. Learn to use the card catalog or computerized cataloging system your library uses.
18. Virtual Financial "field trip". Use a financial planner on your home computer with your children to learn all about interest on loans and savings/investments. Play around enough with the program so they really learn just how much more buying something on credit costs versus buying it with cash. Using a savings calculator let them see how much their allowance or other savings could earn if they didn't spend it for a period of time.
19. Bank. Visit a local bank or credit union to learn about the different types of accounts and services they offer. This is a great way to follow-up #18 above. If your children don't already have savings accounts, this may be a great time to open one!
20. Recycling Center. Learn about what they recycle, how they do it and what their end products are used for.
21. 4-H Fair. See the different projects 4-H kids are involved in, from crops and animals, to baking, crafts and more.
22. Zoo. I've always enjoyed trips to the zoo! A word of caution, however: You may want to avoid the zoo during the spring season when many animals are "active" in ways you may not want to view as a family.
23. Old Cemetery. Make rubbings of old markers. Find the oldest marker. Look for interesting names and dates.
24. Planetarium. Watch out for evolutionary content here as well.
25. Local TV Station. Plan your trip to coincide with the News program. A trip to the TV Station ties in nicely with a unit study on weather, especially if you can talk with the weatherman and learn more about his job.
26. Dental Lab. See the different tools and methods used to make or fix teeth or dental appliances.
27. Botanical Garden. This is a great opportunity to see a wide variety of plants.
28. Power Company. Learn about how power is generated and supplied to your area.
29. Wood Worker's Shop. Learn about the different tools and skills involved in making fine furniture or crafts.
30. Eye Doctor. Learn about eye care, diseases/problems, diagnosis equipment and treatment.
31. Print Shop. See the huge printing presses, trimmers and other equipment in operation.
32. Historical Sites. Most areas of the country have a variety of historical sites. Some are well-known (historical buildings, etc.), while others may just be an obscure marker commemorating some event that happened there. To supplement your historical ramblings, visit the local library to see if you can learn more about the people or time period.
33. Wildlife/Nature Preserve. Learn all about plants and animals native to the area.
34. Blacksmith. Sometimes you can actually find a working smithy shop, other times blacksmithing is part of a special pioneer or old-time event (see #11).
35. Local Bakery. This would be an operation on a much smaller scale than a food processing plant discussed earlier in this list, but can also be very interesting.
36. Dentist. Learn proper tooth care, see the instruments used in the office and learn about x-rays.
37. Pet Store. See a wide variety of pets, learn about their habits and care.
38. Symphony Orchestra. See if you can visit during a rehearsal, then go to the actual performance as well.
39. Historical Society. You can often obtain a wealth of information about your area at a local historical society.
40. Paper Mill. Learn about the paper making process from trees to tissue paper.
41. National Weather Service. Learn about how they predict weather and the science behind weather, what equipment is used, and how the public is informed of the upcoming forecast.
42. Basket Maker. Learn all about the various materials and tools used.
43. Fish Hatchery. Learn about different types of fish and how area lakes and ponds are stocked.
44. County Courthouse. Learn about what goes on in a local courthouse, enjoy the oftentimes beautiful architecture and look for pictures or plaques showing our godly heritage.
45. Nursery or Lawn/Garden Shop. Learn about different plants for your area, plant and soil care, insect control and beneficial insects.
46. Police Station. Learn about what policemen do, K-9 units, technology used, etc.
47. Make your own "old-fashioned day". Go out to a pretty park (or even your own backyard), and try to do everything the "old-fashioned" way. Gather wood and cook over fire, do without electricity, read, play string games like cat's cradles, whittle, sing, use your imagination and travel back in time for a day.
48. Water Treatment Plant. Learn about where your water comes from, how many gallons go through the plant, water purification and testing.
49. Exotic Animal Farm. Look around, there may be a farm in your area raising mink, llamas, ostriches, mini-burros, African pygmy hedgehogs, emus, cockatoos, iguanas, rheas or other unusual animals.
One last note: don't forget the educational value of family vacations! Even if your family can't take a two week trip across the country, check out opportunities for day trips within a 2-3 hour driving distance of where you live, or in a neighboring state. We took many such trips during years when we couldn't afford a "real" vacation. It provided an opportunity to see some things beyond our immediate area with much less expense.
Well, I hope I've been able to spark your imagination and give you some new ideas that your family will enjoy. Have a fun (and educational!) summer!
Katie and her husband homeschooled their children through highschool graduation and enjoyed many wonderful field trips!
This article was originally published in the May/Jun '05 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more information, visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com. To request a FREE sample copy, visit http://homeschoolenrichment.com/magazine/request-sample-issue.html.