One of my favorite things about being homeschooled was taking a field trip on a whim, whenever the weather was especially beautiful. My brother and sister and I loved going on picnics, taking hikes, or visiting a blueberry patch during the late summer and fall. If a crisp, clear autumn day arrives, bringing with it incredibly blue skies and fresh breezes, call a field trip day and take the education outdoors. Check out these fun, fall-friendly excursions that are also learning opportunities for you and your kids.
Farm or Orchard
If you live in the United States, you probably have an orchard or a farm within driving distance of your home. Autumn weather is never more delightful than when you and your kids are out among the trees, picking apples with your own hands, or scouring a pumpkin patch for the perfect pumpkin pie. Often, farms and orchards have a few animals that the kids can feed, a hayride or tractor ride, or other enjoyable activities.
While you’re having fun, you can add an educational emphasis with a discussion of seeds, farming methods, and growth cycles. Your kids may have some questions to ask the farm or orchard personnel, so encourage them to speak up and take an active role in their own learning experience.
With the cooler weather beginning, it’s a great time to visit the zoo. Instead of sticking to the shade and staying still as they did during summer’s heat, the animals are more likely to be active, so your kids will find the excursion more fascinating. Remember to bring along water, snacks, and a camera.
If you take time to read the posted information about each animal, the kids learn even more than they would through simple observation. Once you get home, you can look up more interesting facts about the animals that your family encounters.
Nature Preserve or Park
Fall weather gives you the perfect opportunity to take your kids on a nature walk or a hike. If your children are small, try a short walk through a patch of forest. For older kids or teens, a longer hike through a local nature preserve or state park is a treat.
A small bag or backpack for each child will allow them to collect treasures such as colorful leaves, unique rocks, or other found objects. You could bring along notebooks to sketch or write down the interesting things that you see during the hike. Why not give an older child a camera to snap photos of animals, plant life, and interesting rock formations?
If you plan a lengthy autumn expedition to the farm, the zoo, or the park, remember to layer clothing. Jackets are essential during the chilly early morning. Later, when the sun and the exercise warm everyone up, you’ll need an empty tote bag to stuff the jackets in so that you can carry them easily. Whether you’re talking about tree life cycles, crop rotation, or animal habitats, you can blend fresh air and a good education with fall field trips.
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Rebecca K. is a work-at-home freelance writer, a novelist, a wife, and a mom of two bright-eyed little ones. She credits her success in writing and her love of books to her mom, who homeschooled three kids from pre-K through high school.