Getting the Most Out of Field Trips: A Series Review!

Field-TripsWho 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.

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, here are a few tips we’ve learned along the way:

Go out and explore! Have a lot of fun and enjoy your children while they are young; this won’t last forever. ~ Cristina

“Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.”
~ Proverbs 24:27

We’re curious… Do you enjoy being spontaneous with outings or planning in advance?

Want to stay connected & up to date with A Homeschool Mom? Don’t forget to follow on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,Pinterest!

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Our Field Trip Survival Guide

Field-Trips

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.

When 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.

While the bulk of our field trips revolve around some aspect of my children’s education, all excursions would be rather pointless if we left out one essential element… fun! This is time with our children, family, and/or friends. A day is not successful because we hit every point on the map and fulfilled our goals in the time estimated. We are successful when we have enjoyed our children’s presence and, hopefully, learned a little something along the way.

Go out and explore! Have a lot of fun and enjoy your children while they are young. It won’t last forever.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”
~ Job 12:7-10

📢 Chime In!: How much planning goes into your field trips?

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When The Kids Ruin Your Big Plans

Ruined_PlansEvery nerve ending was sizzling, anticipation was running high. I just knew it was going to be a fun day. I had planned carefully, done my research, and even purchased special treats to make the event that much more special. I crept into my kiddos room, gently opened their blinds, and sang a good morning song.

Instead of joyful shouts of cheer and four little angels prancing into the kitchen to eat breakfast before starting on our planned adventure, I was faced with four, unhappy, downright grumpy kiddos. They dragged their feet getting out of bed, grumbled about not knowing what to eat, and fought with each other over everything. A few even asked why in the world we had to go on this silly outing anyway.

(Did I just shatter your image of our ‘perfect family’? Good. The truth is we’re not perfect. On occasion the kiddos act up, mom gets frustrated, and the entire day goes south. Instead, what I hope you see is a loving family who works through crazy days like this one and finds the good.)

What’s a parent to do when what should have been a lovely day goes completely bonkers because the kids are acting up? Let’s explore a few options:

Pray – First and foremost, what you’re always going to hear from us is this: Pray. Pray, pray, and then pray some more. Pray for patience, understanding, and grace. Just pray.

Pray With The Kids – Don’t just pray on your own – although we do recommend this – pray with your kiddos. Ask the Lord to fill your home and restore the morning. Ask the Lord’s hand to be upon the event and turn the day around.

Talk It Out – Sometimes it helps to talk through the situation and ask what’s really going on. There might be an underlying problem which needs to be dealt with or the kids are feeling pushed. You won’t know until you talk it out.

Step Back – Sometimes a step back is a step forward. Instead of continuing on with the morning, you might need to have a family ‘time out’. Everyone is placed in separate rooms for five to ten minutes of absolute quiet. Just a few moments of peace is often enough to reset the day. Then, you can move forward.

ReGroup – So the initial plan didn’t work. This isn’t time to give up on the day. Rather, you need to regroup your thoughts and forge a revised agenda. You might ask the kiddos to help you come up with a plan of attack, making this a group effort.

Onward & Upward – Your revised plan is penciled in. Time to get a move on. Don’t worry about how the morning has gone so far, keep your eyes on the goal and start fresh. Keep moving forward and enjoy the day.

Reschedule – A complete change of plans is not defeat! Rather, think of it as choosing the greater good. (see below) Yes, the event would have been fun, but there will be other events. If I might humbly add… Let the kids know this is an option if the morning does not turn around. When faced with having to cancel an anticipated event, our children realize the seriousness of the situation and often make a greater effort to turn their behavior around.

Can’t Reschedule? – Rescheduling sounds great until you realize you can’t cancel the event, you’re the one running it! Now what? It might be time to look for an alternate plan. Perhaps someone could cover as lead on that field trip. If you’re hosting the event in your own home, the kids might need to be restricted to their rooms or a sitter might need to be brought in to supervise while you continue on. I wish there was an easy solution to this dilemma; really, I do. Unfortunately, only God can lead in how to best handle each situation. Pray and then move forward.

See The Bigger Battle – Is this really about a field trip or something bigger? Often, these setbacks are a spiritual attack. The enemy, Satan, is using your own excitement and children to fight against you. Instead of focusing on the multitude of small issues raining down, focus on the bigger picture.

Seek the Greater Good – What’s really important? The outing could have been a good one. Your children might have learned some amazing things. The event could have been a blessing to your family. But, would those lessons have been learned amidst all the fighting and fussing. Truly? Sometimes the greater good is to do nothing at all. Be willing to cancel an event or outing if the greater good is staying home and restoring family relationships, ensuring your children are right with God.

Relax – Plans change. Expect that. Worrying and fussing is only going to make a crazy morning even worse. Breathe, pray, and be prepared for God to have His will in your day. Even if things don’t go according to plan, that doesn’t mean it has to be a bad day.

Let’s be honest. Maybe our plans were ruined. But, is that such a bad thing? God knows what’s best. What’s important are His plans, not ours. Instead of blaming our kids and putting our ruined hopes on their shoulders, we need to take a step back and see the bigger picture.

🔔Time to Chime In: If your littles have a meltdown mid-field trip, do you have a plan in place? We’d love to hear your thoughts on field trip mishaps and how you maintain your cool!

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Planning the Homeschool Year: Field Trip Fun, Part II

School-PlanningIt’s back to school season! While we don’t have to be on the curb at the crack of dawn or make sure our children have their lunch money, we do need to plan out our coming year of homeschooling. Let’s get started!

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I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to spend countless hours planning awesome field trips only to arrive at our destination missing particular necessities, like shoes on my kids’ feet. (Yes, it’s actually happened.) To prevent myself from stressing, walking out the door without essentials, and/or having to stop and grab something last-minute, it helps to have a field trip checklist!

While our field trip checklist changes depending on each particular location’s needs, we always have a basic list upon which to build:

Field Trip Checklist

The Night Before…
Fill the gas tank
Withdraw cash from bank (if needed)
Enter address into GPS (if needed)
Freeze several water bottles
Pack Backpack with…
Field Trip Field Guides*
Tickets for the Event (if needed)
Scavenger Hunt List or Activity Sheets for Event
Hand Sanitizer
Gum
Sunscreen
Light Sweater (I’m always cold.)
Peppermint Oil

Morning of…
Pack Snacks and/or Lunch Bag
Place frozen water bottles in backpack.
Place both backpack and lunch bag in-car.
Check to make sure kids have: sweaters and shoes
Have everyone take restroom breaks.
Double check locks on house.
Pray over our drive and field trip.
Have fun!

*Our Field Trip Field Guides are new this year, and something special I worked on over the summer. We’ll be sharing more on this later in the week!

You’ll note I didn’t place a camera on my checklist. Why? Because my camera and I are inseparable! If you don’t have said relationship with your camera, adding one to your field trip checklist is probably a good idea.

Field-Trips

To read more about getting the most out of field trips, please click on the picture above.

One final thought. While I am packing for the field trip specifically, I also like to prepare for the drive itself. I tend to have water bottles handy, snacks at the ready, and encourage my kids to pack a few items to keep themselves occupied, such as books. For longer drives, my kids are advised to bring pillows as well. They might not need them on the drive to, but the drive home from a field trip is always more pleasant with a pillow. A great field trip ‘play list’ for the iPod might also be fun!

With proper planning and organization, field trips days can be tons of fun and easy on the nerves. Having a checklist means there is less for me to forget, and less worry on my mind. Plus, with a checklist, other people can help out! No more asking me what is needed or waiting for my instructions. We work together, get the job done, and enjoy our day.

Have I mentioned I love checklists?

🔔Time to Chime In: What the funniest/craziest thing you’ve ever taken on a field trip?

Want to stay connected & up to date with A Homeschool Mom? Don’t forget to follow on FacebookInstagramTwitter, & Pinterest!

Getting the Most Out of Field Trips, Part VI: Have Fun!

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.

……

Field-TripsWhile the bulk of our field trips revolve around some aspect of my children’s education, all excursions would be rather pointless if we left out one essential element… fun!

In all our planning and preparation, let us not forget to have fun. Not, let me be clear, make sure our children have fun, but you, yes you, have fun yourself! Enjoy this time with your children, family, and/or friends.

Make the most out of this event. Add some memories to your thought bank and enjoy the day! Don’t get caught up in schedules and time tables; those are helpful and useful, but not the end goal. A day is not successful because we hit every point on the map and fulfilled our goals in the time estimated. We are successful when we have enjoyed our children’s presence and, hopefully, learned a little something along the way.

So, go out and explore! Have a lot of fun and enjoy your children while they are young; it won’t last forever.

Oh! And leave before traffic gets too out of hand or plan to stay until evening, to avoid busy roads. Sitting in traffic is definitely a bad way to end any good day! Unless, of course, you like sitting in traffic. Then, just enjoy!

What prevents you from having fun on field trips?

Getting the Most Out of Field Trips, Part IV: Ready, Set, Go!

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.

……

Field-TripsSo, you’ve done all you possibly can to prepare for this fun event. Now, it’s time to get out the door and have some fun. Let’s get moving and go enjoy our field trip!

Get Up On Time – While this might seem to be obvious, many of us fail to get up when we’re supposed to. We hit the snooze button, if we remember to set our alarm at all, or we set the clock too late. Try to get up on time, you’ll thank yourself later.

Set the Right Tone – Instead of rushing around like a mad person, take a moment to stop and pray. Ask the Lord to be with you throughout the day; keeping things in perspective and making the most of this opportunity. Wake your kiddos with a smile and a cheerful hello; get the day started on the right foot.

Assign Jobs – To help remove some pressure off your own shoulders, give each member of your family a ‘mission’ to accomplish. (e.g. “T” takes the dog out and feeds him; “Little Lady” packs those snacks I set aside and makes sure they are in the car;  “Mouse” checks on her birds, ensuring their needs are met, and cleans up the kitchen table; “Little Man” makes sure all devices are present and accounted for; and my man grabs the coffee.) Working together keeps things running smoothly and we are learning to function as a team. Don’t do everything yourself, if you don’t have to!

Alarm Clock

Lock and Load – Once all essentials are taken care of, we are ready to get in the car. I usually warn the kiddos about five ’til, so they see it coming, and then give them the code phrase, “Lock and load!” This phrase let’s them know we are ready to move; they are to use the restroom, then be in the SUV, locked in and ready to go, before I get there. If I beat them… well, I haven’t yet!

Map it Out – If you are meeting with a group to attend this particular function, have those maps handy and ready to go. Once the majority of people arrive, or your departure time is closing in, pass out maps and ask if anyone has questions. Make sure your maps have an actual address for your venue. Some people prefer to program this into their GPS, instead of using a printed map. (I know we do!)
An additional thought: If, for some reason, people are running a little behind, leave extra maps in an envelope that late comers can grab for themselves. Send out a quick text letting them know you are leaving and where they can find the maps once they arrive at the meeting point. Do not stress yourself out by waiting around for stragglers. Stick to your appointed meeting time; they will catch up when they are able.

First Shall Be First – When caravaning, it can often be a struggle to keep track of everyone. Did everyone make the right on-ramp? No one is lost, right? To help with this problem, assign one person to be the ‘front’ and one person to be ‘the tail’. The person who is in front should always lead, no one goes around them; the person furthest in back makes sure there are no stragglers left to get lost. Everyone else should make an attempt at noticing who is in front and who is behind them, just to help keep everyone together.

All your planning and preparation has paid off! You are now at your destination, ready to have some fun and enjoy the day. Getting here might have required a little work, but anything which helps to make this event run smoother is well worth the effort.

You’ve finally arrived! Now what?…

Do you have a fun ‘code word’ or phrase which let’s your kids know you’re ready to hit the road?

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.

……

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?

Summer School: Field Trip Fun

Let’s see how many “Day Trips” we can come up with THIS summer!

A Homeschool Mom

Thinking back on my own childhood education, I can count on one hand how many field trips we went on. Once we got into high school, field trips stopped altogether. One great aspect to homeschooling, that both my husband and I love, is visiting all the places we never had an opportunity to see before. We have been on more field trips than I can recall. In fact, sometimes we wonder why homeschooling is called just that. We are always on the go!

No matter what area of the country you are in, there is always something worth taking a look at and exploring. A simple Google search can help you narrow down your choices and point you in the direction you are looking for. From museums, to galleries, to amusement parks; there is always something worth taking a look at.

If searching on the web isn’t your style, try Field Trip…

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