Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Field Trip Memories

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The kids and I have been thinking about some excellent field trips we have gone on for our homeschooling lessons.  Through our homeschool co op back home we have had other parents offer some cool opportunities and we have also offered some excellent trips for others to share with us.

If you are a homeschooler, remember, everything is fair game! Here is a list of the field trips that we can recall from our 12+ years of homeschooling. This list is designed to get your creative juices flowing but is limited by our memories!!! 

  • Local quarry.  We arranged a visit to one of the quarries in our area. We've been to this quarry twice. The first time we drove our cars down into the deep, deep pit of the quarry. We were able to pick up pebbles and rock from about 300 thousand years ago just by bending over. The tour guide from the quarry was so enthusiastic and informative and the kids asked some of the greatest questions. We gave the office staff a nice plate of brownies to thank them for their efforts with them. The second time I called for a visit they were very enthusiastic to have our curious and educated kids in again. We have some kick ass pictures from this tour.
  •  The library. On our library tour we were taken back into the old stacks, given a tour of the subterranean rooms, shows private collections, and made to feel as though we were visiting treasured vaults. It was so inspiring! Even the kids who had been dragged along on the tour got interested when we got to the secret places.
  • Local artisans. We have visited several local artisans over the years including small clothing manufacturers (a place that made some of the clothing for the films from The Matrix. The designers allowed us to walk through the entire place and to see the process from design to finished product. I have my friend Laura to thank for this one! We also saw marbles being made at a place in Kansas City MO called the Moon Marble Company. Get here if you can! Very fun and interesting. Thanks to my friend Julie for suggesting this one!  We also went to a glass design studio in St. Louis a few times. This experience is thrilling and the kids were all able to create their own paperweights. And I have a friend who is in the mask-making industry. He allowed a small group of us to visit his studio...remarkable what a creative mind can come up with!
  • We visited a fire station with my friend Lara. The kids got to see the trucks and equipment up close and personal like and we got some great tips for fire safety.
  • The pond was excellent. My friend Lara arranged for us to go visit this pond on some private property. The guide had us collect samples of things with nets and other equipment and then these specimens were identified and released. The kids were muddy as hell when this visit was over, but wow was it a blast.
  • Performances. We have been to many different types of performances and have been exposed to many different things. I would never have taken us to some of these things were they not offered by other parents. We loved the traditional dances of India, theater performances at a local university where a friend had designed the costumes, performances in the parks, etc.
  • Career tours. The kids have been to the work places of many different friends who work in a variety of fields from science labs to interior design studios to cartographers to doughnut shops to banks to court houses to farms to computer labs. Here we are only limited by the people we know... and the people that they know!
  • Museums. Always fun, always special. Get to know the local curators at museums and you will be privy to vast stores of knowledge! One of my favorite field trips of all time was the time I took a group of boys to a local military history museum where my friend is the curator, museum director. My friend knew so much about each item on display and we were at this museum for hours! We also visited a museum at Washington University in the Earth Sciences building and a friend took us through the building. First we visited the rocks and minerals. Then viewed displays through the hallways. Then on to the main show:  to see the prototype of the Mars Rover that is the real thing. Then on to see actual images coming from Mars on that day! Museums can be found in many places! Once I did a very popular and entertaining scavenger hunt at our excellent St. Louis Art Museum. It was ALOT of work, but everyone loved it.
  • Hobby clubs. We are members of the local astronomy clubs because of our interest in astronomy. But we have also visited gem collectors, rock hounds, gardeners, model railroading, robotics, rocketry, and community theater.
  • Activities:  From rock climbing and abseiling to surfing to jumping places to art studios to cooking to gymnastics to nature hikes to dances to orienteering to fishing. There is no limit!
  • Road trips. Our co op has some cool parents who arrange for a bus to take kids on day trips! This takes some cooperation and planning, but the days are fantastic and well-attended.
  • River Sites. We live on the Mississippi River back home so we have visited all kinds of places relate to the river, from water treatment plants to lock & dams to beaches to riverboats.
  • Transportation trip. One time we grabbed some friends and rode the rails on our local train. We road the MetroLink from one end to the other and back again. Down here in Brisbane the train system is vast and fun to explore. We have also taken kids on trips to a small airstrip and visited the air traffic control tower:  TWICE! This exciting adventure never fails to entertain!
  • Your community. We have really become a part of our community through homeschooling. We regularly attend civic meetings, neighborhood meetings, meet the politician opportunities, law enforcement and safety meetings, etc. and many of these events happen right at our library. We've also attended tapings of local access TV channel shows. Sporting events.
  • Nature, nature, nature. Bird watching, learning local lore about plants, creeks. There is no end to it. I remember once taking a group along a small creek where I talked about how a creek changes over time, oxbows, etc. It was great because the shape and movement of this particular creek was so interesting. Even the parents enjoyed that one.

If you expand your idea of what a field trip is, you can offer your kids some truly unique and enriching experiences. Not just the zoo. Not just the farm. Visit places where friends work, practice, or have an area of expertise. Check out my link for Co Op Class Ideas. These make excellent starting points for ideas! You will love learning about the world around you!

And remember, share your field trips with others every chance you get!

If you enjoyed this post you might also read: 
Co-Op Class Ideas

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