Getting the Most Out of Field Trips, Part I: Research

Who doesn’t like a good field trip? There’s nothing quite like fresh air, a change of scenery, and a little exercise to rejuvenate your learning routine. While field trips can be a lot of fun, they will quickly turn into a frustrating mess when not planned properly. Join us as we share tips on how to make the most of any field trip and explore ideas for a smoother day.

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Field-TripsWhen it comes to field trips, the last thing to pop into our minds is research. Usually, we just pick a day to get out of the house, pick a location to spend the day, hop in our cars, and take off! What usually results is a busy rush to get out the door, cranky kids wondering when we will arrive, and an overly full afternoon rushing around the exhibits, trying to get the most out of the trip before heading back home again.

What if we could make the day more simple? Wouldn’t the trip be much more enjoyable if we had a plan of attack and were better prepared? I think so! After planning field trips, both for myself and for larger groups, there are a few tips we’ve learned along the way.

Consider those Attending: Before I plan any trip, I want to take into consideration who is going to be attending. While most of our trips are for the entire family, not all of us may enjoy each location chosen. If this trip is mostly for the older kids, I might want to consider getting a sitter for the littles or bringing along a few items to keep them entertained. If the trip is for the littles, I might use this opportunity to offer the older kids responsibility with planning and organizing, to help them feel involved. Everyone should be considered when planning out our trips.

Focus on a Goal: Is there a specific goal for our trip? Perhaps we are learning about Victorian art or studying medieval culture. On the other hand, maybe we are just looking for a little downtime. Knowing exactly what I am looking for or expecting from this trip, will help narrow down both our choice of location and the amount of activity involved.

Pick a Location: Why do I not pick the date first? Often, most locations have “free days”. I find it more convenient, when possible, to pick our field trip location first and then pick the date which corresponds; everyone saves money! If you aren’t sure which venues offer free days, a simple Google search should do the trick. Most locations, aside from theme parks and major zoos, offer free or discounted days each month.
Our location ought to meet the afore-mentioned goal to enhance whatever we are learning or be that escape we needed for the day.

LA Free Days

Pick a Date: By picking a location first, I can narrow down our choice of field trip dates. I make sure to mark the date on our calendar and send out invitations to all who might be willing to join in. If no free day is available or if this date is not an option, I then look at all open dates on the calendar and pick the most convenient for all.

Time Table: After picking a location and date, I need to map out a general time-table for the day. How much time will it take to get to the location? What time will I need to leave my house? What time do we need to get up? If we meet people and caravan; what time should we meet? Do we plan to break and eat lunch/snack? How long do we plan to stay? When do we need to leave? Will there be traffic at that given time? There are a lot of factors which might need to be taken into account. A quick look at our time-table will help us feel less rushed on the morning of and help us better plan our day.

Now that I have an idea of what our day might look like, I can rest easy knowing I have done as much research as possible to help the day run smoothly. On to the next step….

How much research do you do before planning a field trip?

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11 thoughts on “Getting the Most Out of Field Trips, Part I: Research

  1. Thanks! These are great tips. I’m thinking of planning our first official field trip. The timing could not be better. I have been hoping to incorporate some science /spring themes around the event. Do you have thoughts on dealing with multiple ages? This would be a trip to a nut butter facility with ages 2nd grade – infant? Thanks!

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    • This is going to be an ongoing series all week! Hopefully some of what is shared will help!

      When it comes to varying age groups, plan on packing items of interest for the littler children to keep them occupied during slow moments of the trip. Save toys just for those moments, handing them out only when needed most. Pack snacks specifically for those times as well; not things they have been eating all morning already. For the older children, have them create drawings of things they’re learning or put them in charge of the camera! Have them take pictures of what is going on; it saves you from the task, gives you a view of their perspective, and you get some interesting shots! I’m sure you’ll come up with something very creative. 🙂

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  2. Once all my children were in the older set, I often allowed them to attend field trips with their friends. This required lots of looking ahead to those families to be sure they were okay with it, but also freed me to babysit for moms with children who were too little, so they could attend with their older ones. Often it was a trade: I’ll watch the baby if you’ll make sure my kids get lunch. Who wouldn’t go for that, on occasion? 🙂

    Also, we often double check the location of the trip, to see if there is a park nearby where we could all do sack lunches and play together.

    Eager to read the rest of this series!

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    • That is a great idea! We allow older kids to join in as well, if the parents are unable to attend. It works well for everyone.

      Parks are often handy for field trips. We use them as well, if there is not a designated eating spot at our venue. Good point!

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  3. Pingback: Our Field Trip Survival Guide | A Homeschool Mom

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