No matter where you live, there is usually a wide variety of field trips that you could enjoy with your child. Some places may have more historical significance or nature-related field trips, but the United States is so wonderfully diverse that you can find some magnificent field trip no matter where you live.
Since most people are aware of the obvious choices – historical sites, science museums, art museums, nature sanctuaries, flower gardens, historical buildings, natural wonders, etc. – I am going to share a few things that you may not have thought about!
Here are some field trips we’ve taken outside the normal field trip list:
– television stations
Find out what the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is, discuss freedom of speech and freedom of press, set up an interview with a broadcaster, watch a show being taped, ask to see the weather broadcast and compare this to what it looks like on the t.v. Remember to schedule a visit to the television station in advance. Be respectful of equipment. Most stations have a limit on the number of visitors you can bring at at time. Limits are placed due to lack of space so keep the group small.
– city transit system
Study the city transit, take children for a ride, let children participate in the purchase and use of tickets, discuss driver qualifications and seat belt safety, etc.
– radio station
If your local radio station has a children’s program, see if you can visit during the show and possibly even participate. Ask for a tour. Remind children to be quiet at all times. Keep the group small (one or two families if you have a lot of children). Schedule the field trip in advance.
– mayor’s office
You may want to call first, but they may tell you to just drop in if you want to visit any of your city officials. Ask permission to ask questions. Ask them if they have any questions about homeschooling. Use the field trip as an opportunity for your students to learn more about government and for the officials to learn about homeschooling! Make sure you prepare for this type of trip in advance. Does your student know how local government works? Do a unit study and tell them before you go.
– sheriff’s office
What does the sheriff do? How is this office different than the police chief? What are his/her responsibilities on a daily, weekly, monthly basis? How long does he/she stay in office? Is it appointed or elected?
– fire department
At some point, most young children have an opportunity to visit the fire department through the Boy Scouts, a co-op program, or just dropping by. Make sure you create an opportunity! Ask questions, see if the firefighters will give your children a tour of the fire department and a fire truck. Find out the difference between different types of trucks. Ask if different fire fighters have different responsibilities and how they know who does what? What kind of schedule do they keep? Is it a normal work schedule of 8 hour days or do they work three 12 hour shifts? Which do you think you’d like best?
– police department
Ask many of the same questions as above. If possible, arrange a tour of the department. In medium and large cities, there are usually many employees at a police department. Why? What do they all do? Are all of these workers (dispatchers, etc.) as essential as policemen? Why or why not? Discuss these things with your children.
– local sports teams
Do you have a sports team in your city? Find out if they would allow you to come watch a practice. Take a ball or a jersey (the right one!) and ask if any of the players would be willing to sign it. After your field trip, go to a game.
– electric / water department
Many people forget that for children, almost any new experience or information can be fascinating. We went to the electric department one day and they had this thing there that showed how much electricity it took to run the dryer, watch an hour of television, use a lamp, etc. Then you could convert this and see how much that electricity cost you based on the local rate. It was so fascinating that the children stood there for almost an hour figuring up the cost of all our electricity related activities. If you’re going to do a field trip like this (and it’s actually planned, unlike mine) read some juvenile books about electricity, water purification, etc. Ask lots of questions.
There are so many opportunities to learn something new. Sometimes people try so hard to do something “big” that they forget that for a child, life itself often provides it’s own excitement! Look around and see what is in your own area that would make a neat field trip.
Read “How to Make Field Trips Fun for Everyone!” for additional tips related to field trips with your children.
Sonya : )