Field Trips Where You Live!
Field Trips Where You Live!
Let’s talk field trips! If you’ve been homeschooling for any length of time, then you know how educational (and fun!) field trips can be. It’s easy to get bogged down in the daily grind of school books and tests, so be sure to take the time to explore the area where you live. Military homeschooling families, especially, have amazing opportunities for unique field trips and we have the time to fully explore an area since we’re not bound by certain dates or seasons. I hope that as you head into fall, these tips will help you make the most of the field trips in your corner of the world!
Local stuff: Have you exhausted what’s available to you locally? You may think you have, but look around with fresh eyes. Our family visited a bee farm and orange grove in Florida, picked strawberries in North Dakota, hit every monument in D.C., and explored castles, cathedrals, and ruins in Germany. If you’re not sure where to begin, there’s help available! Most bases and posts have an ITT office (Information, Ticket, and Tours for the Air Force) or MWR office (Morale, Welfare, Recreation) that offer discounted tickets to attractions in your area. You can also get maps and brochures, along with less expensive train or bus tickets. Just walking into the ITT office at your installation may spark some ideas! Also, don’t overlook the USO. The United Services Organization, whose stated goal is to “lift the spirits of troops and their families,” is known for their celebrity tours for our troops. But there are also many USO offices (especially overseas) who offer tours, travel, and help. (More on this in a minute)
Think outside the box: It doesn’t have to cost anything! Even if you’ve lived in a particular place for some time and feel like you’ve seen it all, start thinking like a tourist. Check out the local trails and parks; pack a lunch and start exploring. (We’ve found some of our favorite places by getting “lost”)! One mom I know took a map circled a 50-mile radius around where she lived, and determined to hit all the natural sights within that area. Once you explore that area you can branch out even further. I’m always surprised to find the little hidden gems tucked away.
It’s more fun with a friend: Invite another homeschool family or two! Smaller groups with just a couple of other families tend to be more manageable. Plan a field trip every few weeks and have each family take turns choosing a location. We’ve seen some great sights this way! A mud stomp through a pond to collect tadpoles, a hike to view a Revolutionary War fort followed by a picnic, or even a simple park or beach day have been activities we’ve done with other families.
Take an amazing trip: You may do this anyway, but have you ever thought about how educational some of your family vacations can be? (If you haven’t yet, try a “hop” or Space-A flight to get there, that’s an adventure in itself)! We’re always learning! Living in Hawaii, we visited the Pearl Harbor Memorial and gained fresh insight on WWII. We flew to the Big Island and saw the smoke and fire of Mt. Kilauea with our own eyes. While stationed in Guam, we traveled to Australia. We trekked through rain forests and went snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. We visited an aboriginal village and learned how to throw boomerangs and play didgeridoos. I wouldn’t trade that kind of “hands-on learning” for the world!
If you haven’t already done so, check out what the USO offers, especially if you’re stationed overseas. When we lived in Germany and planned a trip to Rome, a friend suggested we utilize the USO Rome office since I didn’t know where to begin. They were so helpful; they booked us a small bed and breakfast within view of the Vatican, set up day trips to Naples and Pompeii, and gave us Rome walking tour maps. Their office was equipped with a/c and cold water bottles which made a nice pit stop in the Italian summer heat! Check the USO website to see if they offer anything in your area. While in Europe, we also took USO-sponsored day trips to Switzerland, Holland, Paris, and other locations. Having an experienced local driver was a godsend! We covered a lot of ground that way; not to mention the knowledgeable tour guides who know all the best places to eat and must-see locations.
Raising world changers: An unexpected benefit of curiosity and exploring the area where we live is raising children with a broad worldview. My children are comfortable with travel and exploring new areas. All of my kids have taken short-term missions trips which makes this mama’s heart glad. (Our 19-year-old just returned from a trip to Hungary)!
Who knew a few field trips could make a difference in how our children view the world? I truly believe they can so long as we cultivate our children’s natural curiosity by helping them appreciate the wonders of God’s creation and showing them that not everyone lives exactly the same way we do. I hope you’ll set aside your books and take a field trip soon!
What’s your family’s favorite field trip? I’d love to hear about it!
Jennifer McDonald has written for numerous publications and websites, including the Rosetta Stone website, Home School Enrichment, Home Educating Family, Crosswalk.com, and the books Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotionals for Tough Times and Fighting Fear: Winning the Battle at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle. She’s the Reviews Department Editor and staff writer for Home Educating Family Magazine. She’s been married to her amazing Air Force husband for 24 years, and they are the parents of four children. They’ve lived all over the world from the Pacific to Europe, and are currently stationed in Washington, D.C. Find her at http://www.just-jen.net/ and on Twitter as jenmcdonald88.