I mentioned one of my favorite quotes from The Core when I wrote about creating a lifestyle of learning with books. It said in part, “I am going to assume that your children of all ages will read (or be read) good books, have good discussions, and go to interesting places.” Today, I wanted to share about how to incorporate going to interesting places into your life. These field trip ideas are going to be low or no cost and yet can have a great amount of learning for your children.
There are probably lots of interesting places near you to visit. Some of our favorite field trips have been free ones. Near us, there is a factory and museum that makes caroler dolls (Byers Choice). There also is an apple cider and butter factory that gives free tours (Bauman’s Apple Butter) . We’ve visited a warehouse that ships out goods all over the country (and got to help gather a shipment). The kids even got to have a field trip in our driveway when a state trooper came and showed them all about his car. We have hiked in many local forests and explored a rock field where you can hit rocks with hammers to make them ring (Ringing Rocks).
What do we do to find interesting local field trips?
Ask friends and family. There are so many little gems to discover and explore, but sometimes you wouldn’t know where to find them. Tell friends and family that you want to visit places. Someone might offer to bring their police car to your house or give you a tour of their warehouse. Another family may have their own farm and invite you over to see their animals. Others might know the best parks to explore or trails to hike. You never know what interesting places you might find if you ask.
Use online tools. You can always just google local field trips, but there are a few places I have found that help me find free places to visit. Field Trip Factory has free field trips to grocery stores as well as self-guided tours at places like PetCo. The Homeschool Buyers Co-op also has a field trip finder. This one has free and paid field trips, but I know I have found lots of interesting ones through this.
Check out national, state, and local parks. Many have free visitor centers or even science programs you can complete with them. There also are great hiking trails, natural features to explore, and places to see wildlife. Even visiting the Liberty Bell or Valley Forge are free (and not too far from us).
Get a pass to a local zoo or science center. For our family, having a yearly membership has saved a ton of money and allowed for many interesting trips. The Academy of Natural Sciences (in Philadelphia) has a pass that allows us to go to many other local (and distant) science centers. Through a groupon deal, we were were able to get a family membership for under $50. You may even want to ask relatives for yearly membership passes as birthday or Christmas presents. (As a bonus, it’ll save on toy clutter in your house.)
Take our children with us when we have to run errands. Honestly, my children have seen lots of interesting things and asked employees lots of questions in grocery stores, banks, and doctor’s offices. Our local UPS store with its resident Husky, Kip, can even be a fun and interesting stop. The home improvement store has so many tools we have never seen and can make for great learning opportunities.
And one I’m not good at yet, but would like to be better:
Ask stores, factories, or whatever sparks my child’s interest in if they are willing to give me a tour. It never hurts to pick up the phone or stop by and ask. One day, my aunt stopped at a quarry because her nephew was interested in the big equipment. The quarry was willing to give her and her nephew a tour and even let them ride down in a big truck to the bottom of the quarry. It never hurts to ask. (She went without the nephew when she asked so that she wasn’t putting them on the spot.)
How do you find interesting local (especially free) field trips? If you are local to us, feel free to suggest trips to us too.