Many homeschoolers think “outside the box” when taking field trips with their kids. The following is just a sampling of ideas about how to continue the learning experience outside the home and not break your budget in the meantime.
Many field trips are enriched by preparation, pre reading, and related activities as part of your curriculum. However, if you don’t have time for these, don’t let that keep you from going. Sometimes the trip itself will spark interest in further research or a follow-up activity. It could even set the stage for a career choice down the road!
Opportunities for Learning in Your Community
- Check out the neighborhood fire station, post office, city hall, or the county courthouse.
- Go to the library – Obviously, there is story time and sometimes there are free or low-cost classes, but don’t forget to check the bulletin board for listings of other activities in your area.
- See if a local bank, grocery store, TV station, or newspaper office gives tours.
- Hobby and craft stores sometimes offer low price craft time or projects on weekends or during the summer for the general public.
- Doctors, dentists, optometrists, chiropractors, dermatologists, and hospitals might let you go through their office during a less busy time. These places are a lot less scary when the children are not going for an appointment at the same time.
- Check with the fast food places nearby. Some places will give a tour and then a discount on lunch.
How Do They Do That?
- Find out if the local electric company or water treatment plant will explain how what they do there lets stuff be done at home.
- See if the local convention center venue will allow you to watch while they transform the arena into a hockey floor or set up for a concert. This can be a fascinating engineering or science field trip opportunity.
- Is there a planetarium at your local college/university? Call to see about behind-the-scenes tours with or without a short show for your homeschooling group.
- Contact your local Chamber of Commerce or Rotary to see if they know of local businesses or manufacturers that will open their doors to a small group. Sometimes manufacturers cannot let you out on the production floor, but they have a viewing window where the children can see the machines operating.
- Learn about the inner workings of a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or thrift shop (Catholic Social Services, Salvation Army, etc.)
- Visit a pregnancy crisis center.
- Consider volunteering your family for a couple hours to help out someone running for office. This type of political work could be stuffing envelopes, knocking on doors to distribute flyers, or holding signs for a candidate.
- Habitat for Humanity and other service groups will take volunteers over a certain age to help with everything from mailings to actual construction.
Food, Fish, and Animals, Oh My!
- Make some connections at the local Farmer’s Market to see if anyone is open to a tour of their operations
- Contact your local office of the game & fish department. They usually have activities for children to participate in while learning about the outdoors or different types of animals or plants. Many are free or low cost.
- Visit a veterinarian office to learn more about what they do there, the variety of animals they see, and about taking care of a pet.
- Many state parks offer a great opportunity for nature walks, camping, backpacking, hiking, and sometimes horseback riding.
Museums & Zoos
- Some museums offer free or reduced admission during certain times of the week or year.
- Some science museums, children’s museums, and zoos provide reciprocal free or reduced admission to other museums within their associations. These are a great deal if you plan to travel or visit certain types of museums on a regular basis. The Association of Children’s Museums, Association of Science-Technology Centers, and American Zoo Association are examples. Membership rates vary greatly from museum to museum. Some have discounts for “educators” including homeschoolers. Doing some research ahead of time on the best rate can really pay off. Make sure to look at the fine print, because some museums will not allow you the discounted member rate if you live within a certain distance of the associated museum.
Theater and Music Performances
- Some theaters offer behind-the-scenes tours, activities for children, or special pricing on shorter/during-the-day performances for educational groups.
Try these websites for a few other jumping off points to find field trip ideas:
Traveling With Children