How To Organize A Hands-On Learning Adventure for Your Family
Homeschool field trips are in my opinion one of the very best parts of homeschooling. Homeschool kids tend to take a lot of field trips. We average two to four a month in our own homeschool. Homeschool families have museums, planetariums, libraries, and parks to themselves during the week. These places become an extension of most homeschool learners’ school experience.
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We have made friends with a lot of experts because we attended so many classes put on by Parks and Recs and brought so many ‘fossils’ to the Fossil Museum for identification. We showed up so often at our local art museum that they knew us by name and preference. The librarians would often text with new reads that they knew we would love. And we have Park Rangers on speed dial in case we find a critter or a fungus that we simply have to know more about. The list goes on… Local historians, builders, artisans, and even chefs have played key roles in the education of my son. All because we showed up curious.
That is homeschool. So let’s talk about how busy homeschool moms can manage to plan relevant and timely homeschool field trips that their students will love? I have some tips.
Use Your Current Lesson Plan To Plan Field Trips
I recommend tackling this challenge one month at a time. Begin by taking a look at what particular unit studies you will be covering in each subject and make a list. If your students are studying the solar system consider a space museum or a planetarium field trip. Or, if they are discussing healthy eating as part of their Health and Nutrition consider visiting a farm or taking an outside class on gardening. Maybe they are studying the founding of America, then find a history museum. If they are learning about Van Gough an art museum may be the field trip for them.
Use National Holidays To Plan
I also like to look at National Observances and take inspiration from those as I do my lesson plans and my field trip planning. For example, in September we have World Letter Writing Day, Grandparents Day, National Dance Day, National Comic Book Day, and several others. I may consider an outing to bring a handwritten letter to T’s grandparents or visit the library to grab some comics or attend comic events or go to see a ballet or dance performance for National Dance Day.
There are also monthly and weekly observances such as National Arts In Education week which often inspires local artisan events, special exhibits at museums, and many online events that are well worth attending.
Grab my Field Trip Planner to have collections of these observances already gathered for you.
Destination Ideas Organized by Subject
I have a post – Educational Field Trips To Keep Your Family Learning All Year Long. In this post, you will find a collection of educational trip destinations that fall into different categories including history, art, science, nature, space, and literature. All of these make for excellent opportunities to learn with your family.
Let me share an example. Let’s say you are looking for homeschool field trip ideas that inspire a passion for History. Seek historical sites, consider touring your state capital, following historic trails, or traveling to witness historical reenactments.
If you are interested in field trip ideas that inspire a passion for Science and Nature consider visiting zoos, and aquariums, touring caves, hiking national and state parks, walking through a botanical garden, or touring a laboratory.
Building Interest Prior To The Field Trip
I believe in the power of a good build-up. Make your field trip a several-week event by introducing learners to the field trip topic throughout regular class time for a few weeks before.
Consider planning a trip to the library to gather books on the topic and set up a reading station at home. Block out fifteen-minute reading sessions to feed their curiosity about the topic.
Also, consider adding arts and crafts projects that are relevant to the field trip. Add in workbooks and unit studies that provide some familiarity with the topic they will be learning more about. Also, consider documentaries or movies that are on topic to view prior to the big day.
Countdown Calendars Are Always A Good Idea
Also, setting up a countdown calendar for the trip and letting kids mark off the days themselves is a great way to build excitement. Before you go do a student survey or a journaling time where you have the kids share what they expect to see, what they hope to learn, and think of one question they would like to get answered on the field trip. (A full student survey is also included in our Field Trip Planner).
Field Trip Planning – Use Your Calendar
Lists and calendars are every homeschool parent’s saving grace. It’s such a busy life that without taking the time to organize yourself you can find the time slipping away and start to feel like you aren’t getting anything done. A daily to-do list, a monthly to-do list, and a planner are often simple solutions.
Keep your lists, keep a calendar, and manage your time because with homeschool the days are long but the years are short and it will be over before you know it.
Make A Field Trip Checklist
While still in the planning stage I recommend making yourself a field trip checklist. Do you need to preorder tickets? Are there coupons or discounts you could be getting? (Check out this post on Homeschool Deals and Discounts). Will you be packing lunch or stopping? If so, will you need cash? What snacks are you bringing? Do you need workbooks, reading books, or other entertainment for the car ride? (Check out this post Family Road Trip Travel Tips That Keep Kids Happy)
By taking a few minutes to mentally break down the trip you can be better prepared for the day itself. This is well worth the time.
Encourage Journaling and Sketching During Your Outing
I am all about journaling. I recommend you have your children pack their field trip or daily journals and encourage moments of pause to better observe and take in the experience. You can check out our Field Trip Journals for Kids right here.
Follow Up By Having Students Complete A Worksheet About The Field Trip
Even if you decide against journaling during your homeschool field trip, insist on a class discussion the following school day so you can reflect on what you learned. Close out the field trip with a worksheet or a final journal entry.
We have worksheets already designed in the Field Trip Journal but if you are using a regular notebook to collect these thoughts and recollections you might ask questions such as:
- Please write a few sentences about what happened on your homeschool field trip.
- What was your favorite thing about this field trip?
- Share three descriptive sentences about the location you visited.
- Share one new thing you learned.
- Is this a place you would like to return to? Why or why not?
- Do you have any suggestions for future field trips like this one?
Field Trip Planner and Kid’s Field Trip Journal
If you are ready to get planning I have a few resources that can really help!
Our field trip planner breaks down planning field trips into actionable steps so you will not only be fully prepared for your trip but also be ready to enhance your experience by creating opportunities to build up excitement for the trip and knowledge on the topic prior to the big day.
This Field Trip Planner Includes the Following:
- Monthly Points of Focus
- Monthly Observances
- Weekly Observances
- Daily National Observances
- Monthly suggestions for specific field trips.
- Current Lesson Plans Field Trip Planning Page
- Subjects Breakdown
- Topic Picks
- Relevant Destinations
- Ideas and Notes
- Monthly Overview for scheduling.
- Includes Inspirational Quote
- Monthly Affirmation For Students
- Trip Planning Page with space for:
- Phone Number
- Date of Departure
- Expected Costs
- Library Book List
- Related Arts and Crafts Projects
- Applicable Activity or Experiment
- and more…
- Pre-Trip Student Survey
- Field Trip Tips and Tricks are nestled throughout the planner.
Student Field Trip Printable Journal
Printable 8 Page Student Journal is designed to help students get the most out of every field trip.
Student Field Trip Journal Includes:
- Pre-Trip Worksheet
- Field Trip Observation Sheet
- Sketching Page
- Notes Page
- Post Field Trip Worksheet & Review
- Souvenir Space
- Thank You Note
Ok, I think you have everything you need to plan an entire year’s worth of amazing and memorable homeschool field trips. But just start out one month at a time. If you need help planning grab yourself the homeschool field trip planner. It’s full of great tips and tricks for pulling off great field trips as well as tons of ideas and inspiration so you don’t have to wonder where you should go. Plus. it’s so pretty! Go ahead and gift yourself, Momma! You deserve it!
Please share your favorite ideas for homeschool field trips in the comments section below. We love to hear from you.
Stay the course,
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