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!!