Homeschooling is awesome for a lot of reasons, but one of my favorite reasons is the complete control that I have over our schedule. If a friend wants to go running with us in the morning, no problem. Homeschooling can wait a couple hours. A beautiful day and we want to go to our local botanical gardens. No problem. We pack a lunch, a few notebooks, and a field guide and head out on a field trip. There are many homeschool field trips that can be taken. Homeschoolers can learn anywhere!
Reasons to Take a Homeschool Field Trip
Books are important to education, but an education limited to books and paper gets boring quickly. As Roger Moore said, “The world is the true classroom. The most rewarding and important type of learning is through experience.” Field trips give students multi-sensory learning opportunities. In the zoo, they can hear the roar of a lion. At an aquarium, they might touch the slimy back of a stingray. And after a tour of a dairy farm, they might taste some fresh chocolate milk.
Connecting with Family
One of the great things about homeschooling is all the time that you get to spend together as a family. Good homeschool field trip ideas will provide your family with shared experiences that bind your hearts together.
Break from Routine
Sometimes we and our children need a break from the normal school routine. Field trips allow us to get out of the house, do something different, and still move forward in meeting our educational goals.
Going on a field trip with some friends is a great way to develop friendships and practice social skills. Some destinations will even give you a group discount. Field trips also help children learn how to interact with professionals and public figures.
Field trips give children opportunities to experience new things and develop new skills. For example, students might have to read a map, navigate public transportation, manage money, or practice formal etiquette. Field trips help them learn how to behave in a variety of situations and in a variety of places.
Field trips are a great way to introduce your child to different careers. Does your child like animals? Maybe you can observe a zookeeper, an animal trainer, or a vet for a day. If your child likes to write, you might want to visit a newspaper office, book publisher, or even a local news station. Try to think of field trip ideas that appeal to your student’s interests.
Types of Homeschool Field Trips
Indoor vs Outdoor
Indoor field trips are great for days when it’s raining, snowing, really hot, or bitterly cold. They are also a good choice if you want to go with other homeschool families or want to avoid the hassles of rescheduling due to inclement weather. But if the weather is tolerable, outdoor field trips are hard to beat.
Free vs Cost
You might not have a large budget to spend on field trips. That’s okay. There are plenty of free educational places that you can visit, such as nature preserves, power plants, manufacturers, and government buildings. For places that do charge a fee, check to see what kinds of discounts they offer—you might be able to save some money.
Local vs Distant
Most likely, the majority of plausible homeschool field trip ideas will be local. You’ll visit a place during the day and return home that night. Occasionally, you may want to plan a more distant field trip that might take more than one day. Make sure you plan appropriately for non-local field trips. Considering factors such as transportation, accommodation, and itinerary can help ensure a smooth and organized trip.
Easy vs Complex
Some places are designed for group tours or field trips. All you have to do is show up and follow instructions. Those field trips are the easy ones. But sometimes coordinating a field trip is complex. You might have to plan a detailed itinerary if you are making multiple stops. Or you might need to design a handout or scavenger hunt to make sure that everyone stays engaged.
All-day vs Partial day
Some field trips are all-day affairs, but they don’t have to be. You may only have a few hours, but that’s plenty of time to drive across town and spend some time exploring an old historic grist mill or stop at a local farm to learn about beekeeping. Fit field trips into whatever time frame you have.
10 Fun Homeschool Field Trip Ideas
What: Little kids especially love going to zoos. Some zoos have special educational programs designed for homeschoolers. Many zoos participate in a reciprocal membership program that can help you save money on zoo admissions across the county.
Where: Some particularly good ones are 1) the National Zoo in Washington, DC; 2) the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE; 3) the San Diego Zoo in San Diego, CA; 4) the Cincinnati Zoo in Cincinnati, OH; and 5) the Fort Worth Zoo in Fort Worth, TX.
How to prepare: Check out the zoo’s website ahead of time. Purchasing tickets online may save you money and a long wait at the ticket booth.
What: This museum that celebrates creation science is a wonderful field trip idea for upper-elementary students or teens. Exhibits include an artistic re-creation of the Garden of Eden, information about the flood and how it affects the fossil record, sculpted dinosaurs, a large insect collection, and more. There’s also a planetarium, a 4D theater, a children’s zoo with daily educational programs, botanical gardens, and a playground where toddlers and preschoolers can release all their energy.
Where: Petersburg, KY
How to prepare: Tickets can be purchased ahead of time on the website. You may want to consider a Creation Museum/Ark Encounter combo pass if you are interested in seeing both attractions. Be sure to take advantage of the educational programming throughout the day—the animal encounters are especially fun for kids.
What: The Ark Encounter is a full-scale model of Noah’s ark that presents evidence of the biblical Flood and depicts what life may have been like on the ark. Other features include a small zoo, a zip line, a carousel, camel rides, and a playground. Some features are free, but others require an extra fee.
Where: Williamston, KY
How to prepare: Visit the website to find a ticket package that will fit your needs. Purchasing a Creation Museum/Ark Encounter combo pass is a smart thing if you plan to see both attractions. Check out the daily events calendar for any educational programs that might be offered throughout the day.
What: The Museum of the Bible is all about the Bible—its contents, history, and impact on the world. Besides housing over 1,000 artifacts, the museum features a restaurant, a kid-friendly exhibit experience, and a theater.
Where: Washington, DC
How to prepare: You can save money by purchasing your tickets online before your visit. You can also avoid parking hassles and traffic by taking advantage of one of Washington, DC’s public transportation options, such as the Metro.
What: The main attraction at Patriot
’s Point is an aircraft –carrier that has been turned into a naval history museum. It is a one-of-a-kind experience that chronicles naval history and showcases what life was like on an aircraft carrier. Patriot ’s Point also includes the National Medal of Honor Museum as well as a destroyer ship, a Vietnam War experience, and a display of historical aircraft.
Where: Charleston, SC
How to prepare: If someone in your family is claustrophobic or has physical limitations that prevent them from climbing steep stairs, this field trip idea may not be for you. If you do go, plan to stay for most of the day, as there is much to see.
What: This unique museum traces the history of the world’s alphabet and shows how communities have been transformed by the written Word of God. The museum also contains information about translation work and the importance of minority languages.
Where: Waxhaw, NC
How to prepare: Museum admission is free, but donations to the JAARS organization are encouraged. If you plan to bring a group, call ahead to arrange a group tour.
7. National Battlefields
What: Visiting a national battlefield is a great way to learn about the wars fought on American soil.
Where: Some notable sites include Gettysburg, PA (Civil War); Yorktown, VA (Revolutionary War); Vicksburg, MS (Civil War); and Chalmette, LA (War of 1812).
How to prepare: Most sites have a visitor’s center that will inform you about the timing and significance of the battle. But you may want to have your children study that period in history before you go to the battlefield. Then you can get the most educational benefit from the trip.
What: Visiting a farm is a great field trip idea for young children because usually farms offer great hands-on experiences. You can often find farms near you that raise animals, apples, berries, pumpkins, and more.
Where: just about everywhere
How to prepare: Farms will often have websites or Facebook pages that will give you information about the availability of their produce. Be sure to make sure that a farm is open to visitors before you go.
What: A field trip to a national park will give you an opportunity to revel in the beauty of God’s creation, observe wildlife in natural habitats, and identify plant life.
Where: Some notable sites include Grand Canyon National Park (AZ), Zion National Park (UT), Yosemite National Park (CA), Glacier National Park (MT), Yellowstone National Park (WY), and Acadia National Park (ME).
How to prepare: Check out the National Park Service’s Trip Planning Guide on its website. Also, if you have a ten-year-old, be sure to apply for the Every Kid Outdoors program for free admission to some parks (not every park qualifies).
10. Living History Sites
What: Living history sites bring history to life and make it memorable. Students of all ages will enjoy seeing how people lived and worked in the past.
Where: Plymouth Plantation, MA; Mount Vernon, VA; and Conner Prairie, IN
How to prepare: Check a historical site’s website for ticket information. You may be able to save money by purchasing tickets ahead of time. Also, encourage your students to ask the interpreters questions while you are there—their knowledge of the time period is usually quite extensive.
Of course, this list of homeschool field trip ideas is not exhaustive. There are all kinds of opportunities for field trips near you. Try to include at least two field trip days in your homeschool schedule (one per semester). Using the BJU Homeschool HUB makes planning field trips easy! To get the most educational benefit out of a field trip, try to coordinate it with something you are studying in your homeschool curriculum.