Fall is my favorite time of year, with October possibly being my favorite month. By now, most of us have been at the school books for a good month or two. The weather is divine in many parts of the country, and I think it’s high time we scheduled some field trips!
If you look around at your local museums and historical parks, you will often find that they offer Home School Days in late September and early October. Make sure to check all your city’s museums for postings on their web-sites regarding upcoming classes or events for homeschoolers. They will almost always offer a discount, and/or special programming. Also, weekends in October are often set aside for town festivals or historical celebrations, for instance, in New Jersey you can attend The Lord Stirling 1770′s Festival where daily colonial life can be experienced, complete with a Town Crier and Revolutionary War encampment, or in southeast Texas you can attend the Texian Heritage Festival at a local historical park. No matter where you live, chances are there is something fun and educational going on this month.
I like to schedule anywhere from two to four field trips in the month of October. If we can tie them to something we are studying at home — all the better, but it certainly isn’t necessary. Here are some great ideas, along with lesson plans courtesy of CLASSTRIPS.COM, to make your October full of field trip fun!
The Amusement Park
Yes, it’s true, even a trip to the amusement park can be educational! Homeschoolers never miss an opportunity to plug in learning (think: how do the laws of physics affect roller coasters?) Lesson Plan HERE.
What is the history of bowling? Did you know that bowling lanes are oiled? And why do some of the pins remain standing even when they are hit with the ball? (Physics, again!) Lesson Plan HERE.
This is an easy and obvious one, and as stated above, make sure to check if your museum of choice offers a special day for homeschoolers. In addition to Home School Day, most museums now offer classes for homeschoolers. These classes are generally geared around the theme of the museum — art history and hands-on art for an art museum, science and engineering for a science museum, etc. If your museum doesn’t offer programs for homeschoolers, give them a call and see if they would be willing to put together some classes if you agree to put together a group. Otherwise, you can always just go on a regular admission day and use this Lesson Plan to enhance the trip.
Trip to the Farm
This one is a must-do for the fall. Call your local farm, especially if they have the usual autumnal activities such as corn mazes, pumpkin patches and hay rides, and ask if you can arrange a group tour for homeschoolers during the week. Many farms offer educational programming in addition to access to the farm for one flat price per person. We have attended several programs of this type and it always makes the annual trek to the pumpkin patch far more interesting and meaningful. Lesson Plan HERE.
The Roller Rink
I know of a group of homeschoolers in the northeast that meets every week throughout the school year at an indoor ice skating rink. For a low entry fee, they are able to participate in a day time open-skate session. If the weather permits, they gather at a local park afterwards. This has been a great way for the parents and children to get to know one another through the consistency of a weekly meet-up, and is a little different from your average park day. Plan a trip (or bring your homeschool group) to the ice or roller rink and check out this Lesson Plan for some extra learning fun!
Yes, laser tag fans, there’s a Lesson Plan for that, too! You may have to be a little subversive on this one, as whipping out the notebooks in the heat of battle might be a bit cruel — but did you know that the idea for the game was born when the creator was watching a battle scene from Star Wars, and what actually scores the hit on your opponent is an infrared signal? Cool, Mom!
Also known as Living History, many county parks offer outstanding programming to homeschoolers covering different time periods and subjects. The entrance and/or class fees are typically minimal and the quality, in my experience, often exceptional. For some great activities, discussion, and writing projects see the Lesson Plan HERE.
Lions, and Tigers, and Bears, Oh My!
The zoo is a great place to learn basic animal science, new vocabulary and concepts that relate to animal habitats, and fun animal facts. This Lesson Plan is extremely robust and provides a step-by-step guide to deriving the most from your trip, including extension activities.
Lastly, there is no need to bring a lesson plan to every (or any) field trip. Much can be learned through an unstructured day of exploration, however, if there is an area of study that you would like to dive in more deeply with your children, these lesson plans can be a great jumping-off point for larger discussions, prompt creative writing, spur further research on a topic of interest, or just present the opportunity to learn together as a family!
Do you have a favorite field trip that’s not listed above? Tell us about it in the comment section!