Finding field trips to go on has never been a problem that I’ve faced, even before my family began traveling with my husband’s job. I realize that we all live in different size communities and though there’s always a ton of opportunities for those in a larger city, that’s not necessarily true in a rural setting. So, today I’d like to give you an idea of places to visit and a few resource ideas to help get your creativity flowing no matter what size community you call home.
Though I’m currently living in a pretty busy place, when I first began homeschooling my three children nearly 12 years ago, we lived in a fairly small town. The first step I took to find field trips for my children was to join a homeschool support group that seemed to be fairly active. Though I was scared of the thought, the fact that my children needed to meet other kids and I could use the support of other homeschooling moms was enough to motivate me to begin arranging an occasional trip for our group. Not only were my kids able to make friends this way, it allowed me to meet many homeschool moms and a few dads as well. When you go on a field trip, you may not meet everyone, depending on the size of the event, but as an organizer you’re guaranteed too!
When my kids were young, it was easy to arrange a field trip because they were interested in learning about everything. I remember buying new tires in a small shop and my boys were so inquisitive that the gentleman stopped what he was doing and explained the process step-by-step. What I thought would be a routine errand, ended up as an incredible impromptu field trip. I even had the boys write him a thank you note recognizing the kindness he’d shown.
Over the years, we’ve taken the standard field trips to the grocery store, the bank, fire station, post office, police department (my kids loved sitting in that cruiser!), our local library, dairy farm and apple orchard. Many of these were free and easy enough to arrange.
There were also many attractions that weren’t nearby but within an hour or so drive that were always fun to see; the zoo, aquarium, science, history and art museums but they weren’t always as inexpensive. That’s where setting up a field trip and attending with a group really comes in handy. Most establishments normally offer some type of group discount. Some attractions, like an aquarium near us will even offer individual homeschooling families a special rate if you call ahead and arrange a date to visit, the only requirement is that you show proof that you homeschool (which also varies according state laws). Many of these same facilities will offer homeschool days that may offer deep discounts, special programming or both.
A local phone book will often list area attractions such as parks, gardens, historical houses and museums. Look in the paper to see any upcoming events. Our local paper does this on Sunday with a list of ongoing events, clubs, meetings, special library programs and again on Thursday with a weekend listing that highlights any events that may be held in the general area. This is a great way to find out about any discounted admission days to local attractions and also any fairs and festivals that will be going on.
Your Chamber of Commerce or Visitors Center can give you ideas and alert you to upcoming events. Make sure to sign up for their email list so you won’t miss anything!
Do you have a college or university nearby? They often have special events for the public. We’re near a university that offers free movies, tours, and lectures. Area businesses may open to the public on occasion. Last week one in our area demonstrated how DNA tests are conducted after allowing visitors to tour the facility. These are events that you can find out from the newspaper so keep an eye out!
Is there a local or nearby theater? Though you may find the price of a regular performance prohibitive for your family, many offer discounted matinees, discounts to school groups and will sometimes allow you to sit in on a dress rehearsal for free. This is a great way for your children to experience the arts. We’ve seen plays, musicals, ballets and the orchestra this way.
It may take a bit of digging on your part to find the best deals, but your child’s education will be enriched for it. Field trips allow you a chance to get out of the house, meet new people, or spend the day with old friends, while developing new interests or offering you a deeper understanding of the people, places and things that make the world go round!
Here are a few more free and frugal field trip ideas:
The City Building
Local Manufacturing Plant
Restaurant or Pizza Place
Visit a sports team
Recycling Center or County Dump
Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen or Local Ministry
9-1-1 Call Center
Waste Treatment Plant
Seasonal Fruit Farm
National Park or Battlefield
Historical Landmarks or Structures
State Highway Patrol
Your State Capital
A Local Artist’s Studio
Local Craft Store (often offer classes that can be taken)
Historical Homes, Churches, Gardens and Museums in your community
Well, I think that’s enough to get you started! Why don’t you share some of the places that you’ve enjoyed visiting?
Tonya Prater and her family have spent the past four years on a field trip as they’ve traveled with her husband’s job. In fact, they’ve spent the past year as full-time RVer’s living in their motor home. You can read about their journey at Tonya’s personal blog, Live the Adventure.