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The Best Part of Homeschooling - Field Trips!

Hi Friends! Meeting thousands of you each year at the annual home educators conventions got me thinking – many folks never get to hear my little “kwips” about how we've approached “school on the road.”

Besides my love for knowing exactly what is being taught to my kids (and bubbling my adult curiosity), Home Educating has the wonderful privilege of field trips! Let’s take advantage of this time with our kids and let me share some tips that make field trips and corresponding workbooks fun!

 - Michele Z

Just to get our feet wet, let’s explore the basics of how to use products from to plan science/history-related curriculum and field trips.

Any touristy website or guide book is going to lead you straight to the major attractions – amusements, children’s museums, huge historical parks, etc.  Sure, our KIDS LOVE TRAVEL GUIDES have them, but quite often they are not our favorites things to do in each state.  The real “meat” of our family mission are those hidden gems that we discovered over 10 years, 5000 places with our kids, and 275,000 miles!  Here’s some categories in our ACTIVITY INDEX to examine closer at various stages:


PreschoolersAnimals & Farms, Museums (children’s)

Early Elementary – Adventure – boats, trains Tours, Outdoor Exploring

Late ElementaryHistory, Science, Factory Tours, The Arts

Teens – High Adventure – Tours, Outdoor Exploring, Sports, Amusements - invite friends along and buy pizza for meals


Grandparents History / Seasonal & Special Events – especially bring them along to a war reenactment, ice cream social festival, fall harvest or Christmas open house. Old-fashioned memories flow…and, it gives seniors an opportunity to share some of their heritage in a fun setting – without Grandpa Harry’s boring slide shows.


Planning a Field Trip

Ok, now you know how to use our Activity Index to determine WHAT TYPES of things are best suited to your kid’s age, but what about how to plan that day trip? Each chapter of our books is a Day Trip region – a two hour radius of the state. Once you’ve chosen 1-2 places or events that you want to see most, find that chapter (for example, Northeast) and stay there.  Browse through the listings and choose 2 to 3 more sites that pique your interest.  (Note: often, it’s best to let each child pick one thing they really want to do – so, at some point in the day, everyone is happy ;-).  If you can’t easily decide, use our Chapter Favorites or Quick Tours itineraries (new books starting 2008) to plan it for you.

Workshop Handouts - Click State Name or Topic

How Do We Combine Field Trips with Curriculum-based Products?

Here’s my suggestions (tried and true) based on grade levels:

bulletPRESCHOOLERS: Since we’re promoting Animals & Farms, let’s stay with that. Really, just the experience of seeing animals and watching them is learning enough. Sometimes, the kids want to take that home with them and you may want to purchase some picture books from the gift shop.
bulletEARLY ELEMENTARY (grades K-3): Adventure and Outdoor Exploring are the name of the game with this age. I recommend Travel Bingo for the road trip to your destination. It teaches kids the power of observation (Science) and word association (Language Arts). If you’re going on a historical boat, trolley or train tour – or, maybe to a historical re-enactment festival – what better way to sneak in curriculum than funny stories! bulletLATE ELEMENTARY (grades 4-6): Ok, this is the prime age to really input a ton of basic history and science. Normally, boring, right? Not the way we do it! Hands-on attractions and workbooks full of fun and games force boredom out and stimulation in! State History is a requirement at this age. Many History and Science Museum websites have specific online activity sheets you can supplement with. If you’re writing a report on a historical figure, several websites now provide excellent biographical information of that individual during the time period they lived at the site. (Note: beginning in 2008, we’re now including Educator information in our listings). If you’re wondering which attractions are out there, be sure to consult your KIDS LOVE TRAVEL GUIDE in the “History” section of the Activity Index. This is also the perfect age to encourage strong reading skills correlated to other disciplines. bulletMIDDLE SCHOOL (grades 7-8): To prepare for High School, there is a strong school focus on understanding timelines of U.S. History & Government and a good control of Essay Writing. If you haven’t completed a unit on your State History – you better get it done soon. For those of us that have completed Elementary State History, we’re kind of in the “shadow years” of pure curriculum at this age – nothing quite fits. Still, there’s a Middle School requirement to complete another unit on State History and Government as it relates to U.S. History. This group craves Adventure– so give it to them! Here’s the best (and cheapest) way I know how to tackle it: 1. Use our KIDS LOVE TRAVEL GUIDES “History” column in the Activity Index. Choose maybe 10 historical places or events that cover several different time periods. Because our reviews focus on what we discern as the most engaging aspects of each attraction for KIDS (not how many awards they’ve won or what cafes or shopping they have on site – a common online tourism bent), you can easily choose the best picks for your family that allows you to absorb the most educational value. 2. Next, contact the Education Director personally to schedule your visit. Education Directors are thrilled to hear from folks who really want to learn – that’s why they are in their position. The Director will either direct you to the attraction’s online lesson plans and activity sheets or send them to you by mail. Usually, this is FREE of charge or a very minimal charge. You’ll find resources to read before your visit, activities to do during your visit, and then tests to take afterwards. (Note: we’re now including Educator information in our listings). Guess what, you just acquired your History & Government curriculum!

Geocaching and Letterboxing

Geocaching and Letterboxing are the ultimate treasure hunt and can add excitement and fun to your driving, camping and hiking experiences. You'll need a GPS receiver that will determine your position on the planet in relation to the cache's "waypoint," its longitude/latitude coordinates. You can buy a decent GPS receiver for around $100. More expensive ones have built-in electronic compasses and topographical maps. Geocaching employs the use of a GPS device (global positioning device) to find the cache. Letterboxing uses clues from one location to the next to find the letterbox; sometimes a compass is needed. Both methods use the Internet advertising the cache, providing basic maps and creating a forum for cache hunters.

bulletGeocaching - The object of Geocaching is to find the hidden container filled with a logbook, pencil and sometimes prizes! Where are Caches? Everywhere! But to be safe, be sure you're treading on Public Property. When you find the cache, write your name and the date you found it in the logbook. Larger caches might contain maps, books, toys, even money! When you take something from the cache you are honor-bound to leave something else in its place. Usually cache hunters will report their individual cache experiences on the Internet. ( bulletLetterboxing - The object is similar to geocaching — find the Letterbox — but instead of just signing and dating the logbook, use a personalized rubber stamp. Most letterboxes include another rubber stamp for your own logbook. The creator of the letterbox provides clues to its location. Finding solutions to clues might require a compass, map and solving puzzles and riddles! This activity is great fun for the entire family! (



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Invisible Ink Books

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