Wednesday, May 18, 2011

10 Ideas for Finding Free Field Trips

     One of my favorite things about homeschooling is field trips.  I think that has something to do with the fact that I have 5 boys.  There are only so many days that I can read over boys shuffling through Legos or wrestling with each other.  Plus I have a very energetic child who does not enjoy school, but he learns a lot on field trips.  We have been to many exhibits and museums that are well worth the cost that we pay to visit, but with 6 kids a field trip isn't always in the budget. 

   So here are some of the great things that we have done for free.  It's certainly not an exhaustive list, but hopefully it will give you some ideas whether you are planning a field trip for a group or just an outing for your family.  For those who live in Colorado I have included actual places in parentheses, you should be able to google the company for more info.

  • Greenhouse---most states have a local greenhouse they get their flowers from.  Many of these greenhouses, or even some of the smaller garden shops are willing to set up a tour for your group. (Welby Gardens)
  • Post office---not all post offices will give a tour, but most post offices know of a local one that will do tours.  There is also a General Mail Facility in every state that offers tours (usually for age 10 and up)
  • Factories---many factories will not give tours to children due to safety guidelines.  However, there are usually a couple of exceptions to this.  The best way to find out?  Call around and ask.  (Hammond's Candies, Celestial Seasonings)
  • Small businesses or stores--sometimes a small ice cream shop or other storefront business will give a tour to a small group.  Great Harvest Bread has many locations all over the United States and most of them offer tours where you can come and see them make some bread.  A very yummy field trip.  I once called our local Ben & Jerry's and they were willing to have a small group come, but I dropped the ball and we never went.
  • US Mint---unfortunately this will only apply to those of you who live in Denver or Philadelphia, but you can also take a free online tour.  Still if you are able to stop by the mint sometime, I would recommend it.
  • Hikes or nature walks are free and a great way to get together with other homeschool families without a lot of pressure.  Your kids can bring a nature journal or you can just hike around and enjoy the great outdoors.
  • Animal shelters and pet stores--I am not sure about Petsmart, but I have heard that Petco will sometimes offer tours.  Our local animal shelter offers classes (on wildlife or how to meet a dog for example) and a shelter tour for free (they do encourage non-monetary donations for the shelter such as toys, stuffed animals, etc).  The risk of this field trip is coming home with a new friend.
  • Free museums---we have several local museums here that are free.  We have a historical museum that offers replicas of farms from the 1860's and 1890's as well as a free geology museum (which is tied to the Colorado School of Mines).  Museums paid for by a city or University may often be a good free choice (Littleton Historical Museum, Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum)
  • Art Galleries/Theaters---It may be an anomaly, but close to us there is a cultural center that puts on plays.  The plays are not free, but the center also has an art gallery, a small exhibit hall and a sculpture garden where the kids can climb on Squiggles the dragon.  Check cultural centers in your area, most of them charge for special exhibits and theater performances, but many have small galleries or exhibits that are open to the public.
  • Newspapers/TV stations--many local TV stations do not charge for field trips, but most of them require students to be at least 10 (sometimes 12).  It can also be hard to find a person to contact to get information about field trips, but worth the effort if you manage to get a hold of someone.
     There are many other ideas that we have thought of but not yet followed through.  I am sure that most homeschool moms have some great ideas or places they've gone.    I also keep an eye out for free days at the local attractions, but I didn't mention that here as I am sure that most moms do that.  Hope some of these activities keep your summer full, or give you great ideas what to do for next year.

2 comments:

  1. here too I'm always on the look out for new ideas for field trips. thanks for this list. :)

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  2. Martha, I hope that you find some great field trips to enjoy, thanks for the comment.

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