Education Field Trips for Your Family (Part One)

In elementary school, students go on field trips from time to time. They all load into a bus and drive to a factory, a farm, or some other location to learn about it up close and personal. Field trips always seem to be a lot of fun for kids, who don’t even realize that they are still learning.

A nature trail is a great place for an educational adventure, photo by Lake Placid Region

A nature trail is a great place for an educational adventure, photo by Lake Placid Region

So why not do that at home? Take advantage of free time or family time to go do something educational with your kids. And here’s the great thing – with younger children, almost anything can be turned into an educational experience.

Going to the grocery store? Give your shopping list to one of the kids and let them keep track of what you need. If they are too young to read, then use the store as a way to teach them counting, or colors. Watching sports? Explain the sport to your child, explain how scoring works, give them a pad and pen and let them keep score. There are always little ways to get your children to use their brains.

But you can also plan an overtly educational trip. The key thing is to not tell them it’s going to be educational, or they will resist. Instead, tell them about all the fun aspects of the activity. Here are a few great examples that are either free or low cost, and are proven winners with kids.

Nature Trail – Taking a walk in the great outdoors has many health benefits, but it’s also a great place to give children some up close and personal lessons about nature and the environment. Look for animals or birds, and then figure out what they are. Hunt for wild flowers or exotic plants. Use a compass to determine which direction is which. Which leads naturally into…

Camping – I’m including this in tandem with Nature Trails, because camping does require a fair amount of equipment that many people don’t have. But spending an extended period of time in the woods or a nature setting is even better than just taking a walk. Sleeping under the stars gives you the opportunity to discuss weather or astonomy (or even astrology, if you are so inclined). While relieving yourself behind a tree, talk about history, and how everyone used to live like this. But beyond specific teaching moments, there is something about the overall experience of camping that benefits and opens up the mind of a young person.

Museum – Museums have a reputation for being boring, but honestly that applies more to teenagers than children. And lets face it, teenagers are bored by everything. Children will be fascinated by the colors, the art, and the artifacts, even if they can’t read. Museums are usually free, and there is no time limit, you can spend as much time as you want wandering around the exhibits and talking about them with the young ones.

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