How to Plan a Great Field Trip

“Hey, Mom! Let’s go on a field trip!” Those words can either inspire us or put us into a state of complete panic. Over the years, as I’ve spoken with many homeschooling moms, it appears they either gravitate toward the field trip concept and love to plan, organize and promote it OR they dread it. If you happen to fall into the first category, then this article will inspire you and give you some new ideas. However, if you dread field trips yet would still like to incorporate them into your homeschool plan, then this article is for you.

First of all, let me say that “a field trip” and “100 kids all together doing the same activity” are NOT synonymous!  It can really put you off to think that you have to work with a large group to have a field trip. Some of our best field trips have been with just one other family or our family alone. So, with that little misunderstanding out of the way, let’s plan a field trip.

There are several things you might consider as you plan your field trip:

  1. What are you currently studying that might be enhanced by a field trip?
  2. What are your children particularly interested in these days?
  3. What resources are available in your “own back yard” but seldom used?

As you answer these questions, ideas for field trips will start to emerge.    Some ideas to get you started:  Zoo, Library, Dr.’s Office, Dental Office, Fire Dept., Police Station, Museums, Bowling, Miniature Golf , Petting Farm, Ball Game Nature Walk, Hospital, Nursing Home, Grocery Store, Bakery, Planetarium, Greenhouse,  Humane Society, Music Store, Beauty Shop, Post Office, Newspaper Office, Bike Shop, Swimming Pool, Food Bank, Bookstore, Optometrist, Veterinarian Office, Farm,  Horse Ranch, Courthouse, Daycare Center

Once you’ve decided where you and the children would like to go for a field trip, the next step is to plan it out.  First, call the place and ask if they have pre-planned tours for small groups. If they do, then most of the work is already done for you. All you need do is get the details and sign up. If they don’t, then you will need to make the necessary arrangements for your group (or family) to visit.

Before the field trip

Do a little research so that you know:

  • prices/group rates
  • group size limit
  • ages allowed
  • if there are picnic or eating facilities

Make the necessary arrangements for the trip:

  • call or visit the facility and make any necessary reservations or arrangements
  • set date/time and a possible rain date
  • request map, directions and parking info
  • request any available info. to help prepare the students/parents
  • determine how payment will be made (if necessary)

Get all information about the trip out to your group well in advance.   Remind everyone to BRING THE CAMERA!

During the field trip

  • If you are the coordinator, plan to arrive early at the location
  • Introduce yourself to the person in charge and pay any necessary fees
  • Once the group arrives, get them all together for instructions in behavioral expectations, tour agenda and any other pertinent info.

After the field trip

  • Send at least one general thank you note and encourage individual families to do likewise.
  • Discuss the trip with the children, asking open-ended questions to get them talking i.e. What did you like most about what we saw?  What surprised you about this field trip?  How has what you saw today changed the way you feel about (fill in the blank)? Where would you like our next field trip to be?

Rather than going out on a field trip, you might consider bringing the field trip to you.   If you have a space where your family and perhaps a few others can comfortably meet (such as your church fellowship hall) you can have the field trip come to you. Many individuals or groups welcome the chance to speak to a group of students or families.

Some ideas:  Missionaries, Policemen,Firemen, Nurse, K-9 Unit, Artist, Forestry Service, Sign Language  Teacher, Auto Mechanic, Lawyer, Judge, Public Health Nurse, Skin Care/hair care, Animal Shelter, Parents & their Jobs

And for those of you who simply don’t want to go out on a field trip or even have one come to you, there’s always the Virtual Field Trip!

  • Virtual Field Trips  - www.home-educate.com/fieldtrip.shtml
  • About.com Field Trips Online - homeschooling.about.com/cs/fieldtrips/

Charmaine Wistad has successfully homeschooled her own two children from pre-school through high school. Now she is turning her attention toward helping other homeschool moms. Through personal coaching, Charmaine helps homeschooling moms thrive… not just survive! Visit her website to try a complimentary no-obligation telephone coaching session.

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