Field Trips

Fire truck

Field Trips… They’re closer than you think!

A simple visit to find out about the local police department, or a trip to a museum are both field trips. You don’t have to go far afield or spend a lot of money to take such exploratory and educational excursions. Anywhere you go, if you ask questions about how things are done or made there, or simply observe what is there, it can be classified as a field trip. It simply requires going somewhere and learning about things there. These interactions with people and places in your community or further afield help spark inquiring minds and can show how different people do such a variety of things, making up society.

Mt Rushmore
Mt Rushmore
Valley Forge handrail
Handrail that George Washington, Marquis de Lafayette and others held while climbing stairs at Valley Forge.

Some examples of the sorts of places we have been are museums (science, history, living history), the fire department, police, manufacturing places, warehouses, national parks, monuments.


We’ve seen a sock-making factory, apple mush being pressed to extract apple cider, maple sap boiled down to make maple syrup, and a granite quarry. We talked with a forensic fire examiner when he came to investigate the origin of the fire that burned down the building across the road from us. We’ve had tours of the library, a fire house (including being allowed to see inside their trucks), a dairy plant making cheese, sour cream, yoghurt and butter. Most of these had little to no cost.

We’ve also spent the money to get a family membership for a year to science museums, a zoo or history museums, and then used them multiple times in the year to reinforce the information available there and help the children make connections.

Living history
Living history museums – where people dress in period clothing, “live life” in history and are ready with answers to your questions. Just ask!

Living history museums refers to places where the people dress in period costume and sometimes they also take on the personality of a particular individual of the time. The best example of this we have been to is Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, MA. The study of the individuals on board the Mayflower is so complete that my sister talked with a man in Afrikaans (a language that originated in Dutch, and is spoken in South Africa where we’re from). He represented someone from Holland, and they had a short conversation in the two similar languages, both understanding the other, before he bowed out of the conversation, pointing to the fact that his wife didn’t want the children learning Dutch but rather their own mother tongue of English. Even this cessation of the Germanic language in favor of the parents’ home language was accurate to the time and people.

Field trip listI keep a log in my planner of the field trips we take, which I then type up into an Excel spreadsheet and file in my end of year report annually. This year I have added one other spreadsheet on Field Trips. I typed up a list of all the places I have referenced in my previous logs including the state in which they were found, nearest Interstate road, town, name, our personal description of our experience and the website. It is surprising when you put together a log like that to see how much has been accomplished in a year.


Field trip record
A Q&A for after a field trip.
Field trips
Another Q&A I’ve used.

Another way to keep track of some of the places you’ve been is to create a quick worksheet with questions for the children to answer when you return, to give them an opportunity to articulate what they learned in a written format. It can also be put in your report as handwriting, language arts (spelling, grammar, vocabulary), and if they draw something pertaining to the trip, you can include it under your art category.

I highly recommend field trips, both planning them and also seizing spontaneously the opportunities provided in your life to turn them into a field trip. Once, a routine grocery shopping trip turned into a field trip as we stood and watched them making tortillas.

If you are able to accompany your hubby on a business trip, contact local businesses and ask if you can take a field trip of their workplace. Mention that you’re homeschoolers. Oftentimes people haven’t met anyone who homeschools, so you may be a bit of a novelty. Talk to people, ask questions, find out about their jobs, see if you can take a tour. You’ll be surprised at the joy you bring to people when you are interested in what they do and request that they share their interests.

Please send us some of your favorite field trips.

Start key


Start Somewhere. If you don’t, you’ll never get anywhere.