Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Field Trip Destinations {5 Days of Field Trips}

Yesterday we talked about planning field trips - now we need some ideas as to where we can go! There are all kinds of great places to go for field trips and tours. I started putting together a list but this is only a sampling of the kinds of trips that are possible.

Inspiration can come from your curriculum, your kids' interests, a vacation destination, or just an opportunity that comes up. Your history curriculum may provide some of the most obvious ideas, especially if you have nearby museums and historical sites. With science, zoos and aquariums are a must-see when studying zoology, but other topics might require you to be a little more creative. You may want to take opportunities to visit art galleries or hear a musical performance to enhance your study of the fine arts.

Okay, here's my list of ideas to get you started!
  • Outdoorsy field trips - Local parks, state parks, and national parks offer all kinds of field trips opportunities ranging from simple walks to wilderness adventures. Hiking trails, interpretative centers, and nature centers can work for just your family or for a larger group. Check the websites for special events you can take part in, self-guided tours and trails, or to bring an organized group for wilderness camps or guided tours with a ranger or naturalist.
  • Historical field trips - When you're studying history that involves your local area, make visits to your local historic sites, monuments, and living history parks a part of your curriculum. National Parks in both the USA and Canada include lots of 'built-in' history lessons, and many of America's National Parks have a Junior Ranger badge program for kids. To earn a Junior Ranger badge usually requires picking up an activity guide at the Park's headquarters and then completing a variety of activities. Battlefields, historic buildings, lighthouses, and other places may be good choices.
  • Sports field trips - Take your crew bowling, skating, or hiking. See if the bowling alley or skating rink will give you a short 'behind the scenes' tour of the facility before letting your group play. Playing racket sports, mini-golf, or going to a batting range might offer the same opportunity to learn about the background of the sport. Many pro sports arenas offer tours, and the minor league clubs are often even more accommodating. 
  • Science field trips - Once again, the parks system offers a lot of possibilities through nature centers and programs like the Junior Ranger badge program. Other places to consider include science centers, planetariums, aquariums, zoos, fish hatcheries, and botanical gardens. Visit your area 4-H or state fair and look at the exhibits. If there's no planetarium in your area, there may be a stargazers or astronomy club that you can work with. Check with your local parks and rec group to find out. There is a club that hosts stargazing nights at a local nature center, and these enthusiasts are happy to show visitors how to identify the features of the night sky and let you look through their telescopes.
  • Fine arts field trips - look for special programs geared to children and school groups at theaters, ballet companies, and symphony orchestras. Visit an art museum or gallery. Visit one of the many paint-your-own pottery studios and let the kids try their hand. Look for a local glass-blowing studio, or any other local artisans that will demonstrate and explain their specialty to a group.
  • Local businesses of all kinds may offer really cool field trips and tours. It's common for grocery stores and restaurants to offer tours for school groups. Some other places to check include: greenhouse or nursery; apiary; pet store; newspaper printing facility, TV or radio station; bakery; fire station; airport; train station; landfill and recycling centers; working farms or dairies; and factories of all kinds. Due to safety or health concerns, there may be restrictions on what can be offered at some of these sites, but don't assume they can't or won't do a tour. 
We stopped by the Wegmans grocery store that opened up in our area and it's a field trip just walking through! And they offer kids cooking classes, and at the time they were hoping to be able to offer tours of the store. Many groceries in our area offer those tours to school groups.
 Our family once stopped by the Zamboni plant on a visit to my husband's hometown and just asked if they did tours. They don't do tours, but the manager I talked to gave us an excellent impromptu lesson on the history and science of ice resurfacing. All because I took a chance and asked. (See all the pictures and description of our tour: Zamboni Field Trip)
Our trip to the greenhouse many years ago. We toured around Thanksgiving, when the crop was poinsettias.

Not sure if a place offers tours? Just call and ask! You really never know. Start with the people you know and the businesses they are working in or hobbies they have and ask around. Some of the field trips we've done have been the result of asking someone we happen to know, or just making a call to a place we took an interest in. My husband manages a greenhouse and the tours he's given our homeschool group have been very popular. Having acquaintances that work at places like the TV station, fire station, at a farm or for a minor league baseball team have opened up opportunities for field trips.

Search online for ideas too. Websites such as Field Trip Factory and Factory Tours USA provide listings of places that have an established interest in offering field trips and tours of factories. You can also search the Educational field trips listing at Homeschool.com. Check out the post F is for Field Trips at My Joy-Filled Life for more field trip ideas.

What are some of your best ideas for field trip destinations? I'm sure I left something obvious off my list! Leave a comment and let me know! Stop by for a cup of coffee and more discussion about field trips during the 5 Days Blog Hop, and be sure to visit the other Schoolhouse Crew members and their 5 Days topics. Just click on the banner below to return to our Blog Hop Home!
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