Educational Field Trips
Educational field trips are a great way to keep your child learning even when they are on vacation. The words field trip will often conjure up images of boring visits to science museums and art galleries, and while these do have educational value, a whole world of places are available where you can take your child for a fun and educational day out.
Get Hands On
One of the key characteristics of all good field trips is that they allow the children to get hands on experience in whatever area you are visiting. This means finding a place that has many interactive exhibits or organizing a day out where your child will be able to learn specific skills. Some good hands on educational field trips include:
• A farm – If you can find a working farm that takes volunteers or helpers for the day nearby, your child will have a great time learning how to milk cows by hand, care for sheep and plant seeds in fields. You can use this to talk about growth cycles, agriculture, and the role of farms in modern human life.
• Battlefield re-enactments – These tend to be pitched at enthusiasts and families, and while your child may enjoy the sight of soldiers and cannons, you'll also be able to find people willing to teach and demonstrate skills like sword fighting, open hearth cooking and military strategy. You could talk to your child about the Civil War, the role of America in world politics, or what it was like to live in a different time in history.
• Cooking classes – While most cooking classes are aimed towards adults, you can find plenty of schools that will offer cooking classes. Your child will be able to learn how to fend for themselves as well as becoming a valuable member of the cooking team in your house. They will learn about nutrition, budgeting for food bills and hygiene while getting messy and making tasty treats.
Take a Theme
Where you can, you should try to group your educational field trips by theme so that your child can begin to see the underlying links between the different sites. For example, if you took the Civil War as a theme, you could visit a battlefield one day, a Civil War museum on another and a library on a third day. Encourage your child to keep a scrap book for each theme with tickets, brochures and photos from each place you visit, as this will cement their knowledge and gives them a way of sorting and organizing their understanding of the theme.
Prep Ahead of Time
Getting the balance between a fun day out and getting some educational value from the day can be tricky, and some children may feel tricked once they realize that you are trying to teach them something. Where you can, you should aim to do some prep work ahead of time, which means that you should tell them where you are going and get them to do some research about the kinds of things that they might see. You could get them to draw up a chart listing things that they want to see and things about which they want to learn. This automatically gives you a focus for your trip and you can take the sheet with you to mark off things as you see them.
You can create cool games that focus on the subject matter of educational field trips. A resounding Jeopardy type match focused on facts related to your trip will entertain while the children gain some background information on their journey.
The other way to make educational field trips more entertaining is to take some company. You should think about inviting some of your child's friends to come on the trip with you, especially if they are in the same class at school as you can tie all of their learning in together.
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