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The Value of Field Trips

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One of the hardest thing for new homeschoolers is, accepting that learning is not confined to book work. Although homeschoolers place a high value field trips, sometimes we still feel like we aren’t “doing school” during the events. But if you look at studies, you will see field trips are one of the best way of teaching.

According Jay Matthews of the Washington Post, “Arkansas researchers, Jay P. Greene, Brian Kisida and Daniel H. Bowden, set up a randomized experiment involving more than 10,000 students. Some visited the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., and some did not. All were then surveyed. Those who went on the field trip showed higher levels of critical thinking, historical empathy, tolerance and interest in art museums than similar students who didn’t. Even more impressive to me was the fact that those who went on the trip remembered important details weeks later.”

The International Journal of Environmental and Science Education states, “Field trips take students to locations that are unique and cannot be duplicated in the classroom. Each student observes natural settings and creates personally relevant meaning to the experience.

“Interactive exhibits help students play with concepts, activities often not possible in the classroom. Earlier course content suddenly becomes relevant as students assimilate and accommodate new understanding and cognition (Lei, 2010a). The connection between the field trip venue and the classroom links the field trip’s experiential learning with prior experiences and learning from the classroom.

Students on field trips sharpen their skills of observation and perception by utilizing all their senses (Nabors et al., 2009). Students develop a positive attitude for learning, motivating them to develop connections between the theoretical concepts in the classroom and what has been experienced (Falk, Martin,&Balling, 1978; Hudak, 2003). Outdoor field trips provide an opportunity for students to develop increased perception, a greater vocabulary, and an increased interest in the outdoors (Hoisington, Savleski, & DeCosta, 2010).

“Developed interest stimulates curiosity, empowering students to ask questions, discuss observations, consider past experiences, or simply ponder the topic (Farmer, Knapp, & Benton, 2007b; NRC, 2009). When on a field trip, the venue is not the only location that affects students, they also gain knowledge and understanding about their neighborhoods and communities as they travel from the school to the field trip venue (Nabors et al., 2009).”

Whew! That’s a lot of affirmation about the value of field trips. I could post even more research, but you get the point.

I personally love field trips because they bring learning to life, my kids are taught by experts on subjects, learn to ask good questions and learn about different careers. Field trips help them make connections now and later. It gets their wheels turning – – you can almost see it!

Not sure where to start? Here is just a short list of the field trips we have enjoyed:

Bakery Field Trip – Kids got lesson in the science of how bread is made, were able to see wheat being ground, and toured the facilities to see equipment.

String Instrument Field Trip – Took at trip to a music store and learned about many different string instruments. The kids got to hold and try out some too.

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Brick Making Company – Kids toured the plant, saw the clay “mine” where they get materials for making bricks. Students were allowed to carve in wet bricks and take home.

Wildlife Field Trips – Matching animal prints, furs, and skulls using resource materials. Learned about local wildlife, including a tour through local woods to discuss habitats.

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Pond Study – Children collected samples of pond water, identified pond life collected using resource materials. Nature expert spoke about the significance of these little creatures.

Lab on matter – Kids were given calculators and scales. By using math, learned how to measure density, and mass. Teacher gave kids history lesson on how this calculation was discovered. Exciting lab experiments were showcased for the kids, resulting in a round of applause for the instructor.

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Tour of mineral mine – Geology lesson given to kids, where they learned about how many things they use in every day life depend on mining. Were able to touch samples of different minerals. We were taken into the vast center of the quarry, and felt like we were in the Grand Canyon. The miners did large explosion for us, while we watched from a safe distance. Kids were allowed to climb on giant earth movers and explore.


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Tour of Historic Grist Mill – Kids were shown equipment, and how water wheel works. Were given history lesson on grist milling, the business of milling, and learned local context. Following the tour and history lesson, kids took two history workshops, one on primary and secondary history resources, and the other on different kinds of grains.

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Tour of Legislative Building and Executive Mansion at State Capitol – Learned about legislative process, North Carolina history, and architecture details of buildings.

This list is a small sampling of field trips we have enjoyed, and it’s what makes homeschooling even more exciting. Are your kids in school? You can still enjoy field trips. Just get a group of interested parents and kids, and schedule something during track out or summer. It’s more fun in smaller groups anyway, and it will be an experience you can share with your kids.

If you are wondering about the expense, five of these field trips were free, and besides the grist mill tour, most of these were only a couple of dollars a kid because places usually charge per group. You would be surprised how many places offer free field trip programming for kids.

I’m going to start documenting our field trips, so follow me for fun ideas for YOUR kids!

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