When I was in elementary school, I dreaded field trips. The lines. The buddy-system. The crowded, rowdy bus ride. I preferred to go into the city with my family. For one thing, my dad knew just the right place to park, just the sights to see, and exactly what to highlight and what to skip. Plus, we took our time to linger in front of that perfectly preserved elephant at the Natural History museum's entrance, instead of immediately being whisked around the entire museum, worksheets in hand! And that elusive "buddy"―where in the world did she always disappear to?
I grew up outside of Washington, D.C.―an easy hop, skip and jump to the museums which surround our nation's capital. And, yes, that was neat. I liked going to the museums, especially the Air and Space/ Smithsonian, but not with the hundreds of people! And that's one of the great things about homeschooling―you can do field trips when you want, how you want. Some field trips work quite nicely with groups, but some are easier to manage when it's just the family.
Often, I zipped the twins around without a lot of painstaking planning. At other times, we'd schedule and plan a venture well ahead of time with several other homeschooling families, brown-bagged lunches and all.
The whole point is to step away from the books and screens in order to enjoy the discovery process that comes with hands-on learning.
I remember taking the twins to Kitty Hawk, NC when they were ten. 2004―The 100th anniversary for the Wright brother's first flight. We couldn't miss that! Jay couldn't go, but encouraged the three of us to go ahead without him, so we waved goodbye, and set our sights on the windy sand dunes of the Outer Banks. With the twins as navigators, we made the harrowing drive down Route 95 South.
After settling into our little cottage (the guys called it our base camp), we headed to Kitty Hawk, took loads of time to study the Wright flyer, and walked around the site where the first flights were made. We marveled at Orville and Wilbur's tenacity through all the experiments and life- threatening moments of 1904.
Of course, being a mom, I emphasized how "great it was that two brothers worked so well together!" Hint-hint.
By our third day at the museum, I didn't even need to show our entrance pass. The Park Ranger simply waved us on as he saw our white van enter the parking lot. The twins and I learned so much on that trip―and had a wonderful time in the process.
This spring, consider orchestrating a unique day (or days) of learning at a field trip. Close by or far away― the important thing is to spend time together to learn and have fun at the same time!
Safe travels! Have fun!