I have a thing for field trips. In fact, when I grow up I want to be Ms. Frizzle. You know, the crazy lady from The Magic School Bus™? She is always taking her students on the most amazing fieldtrips. I don’t think they ever stay in the classroom! Even the most hesitant students end up learning every bit of information on a given subject. It’s like the perfect learning environment. “The Frizz” knows Delight-Directed Teaching. Anwyay, I guess that is what I will do with my grandbabies. My reality is somewhere closer to yours I think. I love field trips, but the majority of our time is spent around my kitchen table or snuggled on the couch with a math book.
I do think we go on more field trips then the average homeschool family, but I could be wrong. Barring rain, tomorrow we are headed to George’s Canyon for a hike. Many people like to plan these things in advance. I like to wake up the morning of a field trip and announce it to my children. Usually, I have already let the idea stew on the back of my mind for a bit and while it stews I look up information like pricing, timing, and directions — all necessary ingredients for a successful field trip. Then I wait for the perfect morning. I announced one morning two weeks ago that we were going hiking. All the kids got excited, and then my oldest son came downstairs with a fever. We’ve been sick ever since, and every single day someone asks if we can go hiking yet. So tomorrow is that day!
Lots of teaching can take place on field trips, but to me the best part of a field trip is what happens afterward. We come home and find books on the subject. We put our pictures onto notebooking pages and write about the event. We spark ideas and go off on learning tangents about Sea Lions, Mammal Rescue, Canyon history, desert plants, and all kinds of crazy fun topics. Suddenly, learning is a delight because we have tied the information to something tangible. Plus, we have made a family memory!
Steps to a Successful Field Trip
Location. The first thing you have to do to have a field trip is to know where you are going. Finding field trips can be difficult, especially if you are new to an area. I like to talk to local relocation service agents, realtors, and librarians. I pick up brochures at rest areas from the nearby interstates. I contact the County Extension agent and ask for suggestions. I talk to other Moms and teachers and friends and ask lots of questions too!
Planning. Once you have found a location for your field trip, the first step is planning. I always start at the location website. I look at ticket prices, calendar dates, and the map. I print directions to a pdf for later reference. I look for any kind of worksheets, scavenger hunts or educational suggestions provided and print those to PDF as well. That way, when we are ready to go I can just quickly print out what we need.
Execution. Almost all field trips will go more smoothly if you remember a few things. Directions. Water. Spare Change. Pencils. Baby Wipes and or hand Cleaner. Besides these things, you need to take frequent breaks — especially if you have little ones walking. I usually hand my oldest child the stack of worksheets/scavenger hunt papers on the way to our location and ask her to look those over and be ready to help younger siblings find and learn.
Follow-Up. This is the part that makes it all worthwhile. (Let’s face it, field trips can be a hassle!) Find and read related books at the library or on your shelves. Print out coloring pages and lapbooks or notebooking pages on subjects of interest. Find related crafts and projects. Feed birds. Collect and properly dispose of plastic bags from your neighbors. (Service Project explanation: Plastic bags blowing in a breeze near the ocean where we live are certain death to ocean animals!) Act out plays. Make sure to talk through the field trip with Dad at the supper table.