Thursday, September 15, 2011

Field Trips, part 1

Field Trips, part 1
Last time we talked about the importance of homeschool groups and mentioned field trips. This time I would like to focus on the types of field trips that our fifth graders might be interested in participating in. First, let me say that we should not be afraid of field trips. Field trips do not have to be expensive or take all day. They do not even have to be with a group. Sometimes the most memorable field trips are excursions you make with just your family. And don’t worry, no matter how basic or elaborate the field trip, your child will learn something.

Let’s start with the most basic and simple field trip. What is your child interested in? My fifth grader loves animals and plants. So, here are a couple of field trips that might interest her. What about a trip to the pet store? Why do I consider this a field trip? Well, we get to see a number of different animals, we get to see lots of different kinds of fish. We can talk about what kinds of habitats those fish and animals live in, and what kind of care those animals need to be healthy when kept as pets. We can look at foods, toys, and other items for various animals and decide if those items help the animal live a happy and healthy life. It has been said that a man (woman, or child) who cannot relate to animals and care for their well being is fundamentally missing something that makes them human, compassion and empathy. So, is the pet store a field trip? Absolutely.

Along similar lines, what about a trip to a plant nursery or garden center. Learning about growing things and their care is worth knowing. Talk about why the plants are green, talk about how some of them provide food, talk about growing seasons, talk about the conversion of potential energy to usable energy, sunlight to plant sugars. Both the pet store and the nursery are short outings, but can be enjoyable learning experiences none the less. The added bonus is that they can also be free and spur of the moment.

Another kind of field trip is the museum trip. There are many types of museums. This makes it possible to find a museum that is hands on, or follows along with a social studies lesson, or a science lesson. You can often find museums that are just for fun, like a train museum. But wait, could a train museum also provide a history lesson and a transportation lesson? Children’s museums are often aimed at elementary school children, and offer many hands on type of exhibits. Many children love to learn through doing and touching and this type of museum is ideal for them. There are also the more adult oriented museums, such are art and natural history museums. What better way to present Impressionist paintings, dinosaurs, and mineral collections than to actually get to see them up close and personal? Next time we will discuss other types of field trips.

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