One day near the end of last summer, I sat looking at my Reading 3 Teacher Edition in preparation for the coming school year. One story near the beginning of the book caught my attention—”Alex the Drummer Boy.” It’s a historical fiction piece set in Cowpens, South Carolina, during the Revolutionary War. As I looked more closely at the piece, an idea began to take shape in my mind—we should take a field trip to Cowpens.
Was I crazy? The site was a little over an hour away, and my window of opportunity was small since we would be reading the selection in a couple of weeks. But it was a perfect educational opportunity. A visit to the historical site would not only provide valuable background information for reading the story, it would also build excitement for the upcoming lessons.
We made the trip a few days later, and we were so glad we did. You can read more about our experience in the post Learning Activities That Come Alive.
As a homeschooler, I love having the flexibility to enhance my curriculum with in-the-moment learning experiences like spontaneous field trips. If I had been teaching in a classroom, that trip to Cowpens probably wouldn’t have happened. But since I was a homeschool mom, I could take advantage of the opportunity the curriculum presented me.
Field trips are never easy, even when they are somewhat unplanned. But here are a couple reasons why they’re worth the effort.
A Field Trip Fuels Interest in Learning
There’s nothing like hands-on experiences to whet a child’s appetite for learning. When we returned home from Cowpens, my daughter suddenly couldn’t get enough of Revolutionary War history. She checked out historical fiction and nonfiction books at the library. I saw her play-acting battles and trying to fashion her own Revolutionary War uniforms. She was excited and ready to learn.
A Field Trip Boosts Comprehension
Sometimes field trips can also help students better comprehend what they’re learning. This week, my second-grade daughter and I are going to read a story in reading about non-furry pets. She has never seen a hermit crab, so before we read it, I’m planning to take her on a quick trip to a local pet store to observe a real one in action. Seeing one up-close will help her better understand the point of the story.
Taking spontaneous field trips has become a way for me to incorporate real-life learning into our homeschool, and it has been a fun way for our family to bond while learning. Have you ever taken a spur-of-the-moment field trip? Tell us about it in a comment!