I really enjoy going places with my children. I am not great at organizing field trips for a group, but I love to wake-up and re-arrange our whole day to make a field trip happen. That’s not to say I don’t plan ahead at all. In fact, I’m thinking on a hiking trip to the local tide pools right now. I just haven’t decided which day we are going to go. Maybe I think outside the box too much, but I’ve never thought of field trips as something we should only do during the main school year. A field trip is any outing where learning can take place. At least that’s my definition. Here is what Merriam-Webster has to say:
Field Trip (noun) : a visit (as to a factory, farm, or museum) made (as by students and a teacher) for purposes of firsthand observation
Summer brings its own brand of fun to the adventure of a field trip, and some trips just lend themselves to summer sun. Here are a few of the field trip adventures I plan to enjoy with my children this summer.
Treasure Hunting: AKA GeoCaching. It’s warm out, the kids are antsy, and there is a whole world of treasure out there just waiting to be found and shared. Take a little something from the cache, and add something back for the next cacher to find. It’s a cool concept and entire websites are devoted to kid-friendly educational geocaching. You need a GPS, some party favors or stickers — something to add to the treasure chest — and probably water and a snack if you are planning to make a morning of it. Your children can help you map the trip, find the GPS location, search for the hidden cache, plant new treasure in the cache, and record your find in a journal.
Beach Combing: Beaches are not just swimming and sand castles! I realize not everyone will have access to a beach, but chances are good that a lake with a beach is not to far a drive for a day of summer fun. Every beach can be explored whether pond, lake or ocean. Water can sampled for living organisms (check out the Discovery Scope!). Rocks and shells and plants can be examined. Children can be taught to row a canoe or go fishing. Some of my most treasured memories are those hours spent fishing in a canoe with my Dad on our little Pike County lakes in my brother’s old canoe. We never caught much, but we made memories!
Hiking: Simple hikes help keep your children active and engaged with God’s Creation. Even the most rural area is likely to have access to local parks and State parks with family-friendly trails. Every new trail is a new educational opportunity — history, geography, biology and even archeology. If you haven’t ever taken your children on a hike before, come back next Monday for my new series on family hiking. You can do it!
Theme Park Adventures: You might be thinking – “How can a theme park be a field trip?” Well, if you’ve ever taken physics you probably know the answer. For many years, one of my favorite science teachers took her physics students on a field trip to the local theme park. If I remember correctly, she gave them questions to answer, experiments to conduct, and probably even lab partners to work with. Those students came home with a new understanding of applied physics!
Junior Ranger Exploring: Most National and State parks have a junior ranger program where your child can learn about local park ecology, listen to ranger talks, answer some questions and earn a badge or patch. Sometimes you can even earn badges on-line before you go. My children have usually enjoyed collecting these badges when they are between 6 and 13 years old. Pack a camera, plenty of water, sunscreen, snacks or a picnic and whatever you do, do not feed the animals.
Local Botanical Gardens or Arboretums: We have lived in several locations since our children were born, and everywhere we go we have really enjoyed visiting the local gardens and arboretums. Most of these places host holiday events such as train shows which are a big hit with everyone. Our very own South Coast Botanical Garden has a beautiful children’s garden with fairy tale displays and every time we go visit we learn something new. Not to mention it is a fabulous place to take pictures!
I hope I have inspired to get out and go with your children this summer! Even one trip can be a precious memory when your child reaches adulthood. Are you in the mood to share and inspire me? I’d love to know what kinds of summer learning adventures you enjoyed as a child. I haven’t gotten the full summer adventure planned yet…