If you’re new here, my name is Nike (nee-kay) Anderson and I am a fourth-year homeschooler of two boys, ages five and nine. Welcome to the family!
The field trip conversation emerges quite often in homeschool communities. I’ve noticed most moms would love to take more field trips with their family but just don’t know where to begin. So, I figured I’d make a post about some of the awesome field trips we’ve taken that are kid and wallet approved!
Some of these field trips were hosted by our homeschool group while others were solo family adventures. I highly suggest joining a homeschool group or co-op if you haven’t already. Having a community takes care of the burden that often comes with planning field trips. It’s also a great way to save money as many places offer discounted rates for large groups.
Here are Other Reasons to Take Group Field Trips:
- To expose children to different experiences that inspire learning beyond the textbooks.
- To give children the opportunity to fellowship with their peers.
- To create pleasant memories of the homeschool experience.
- To give children the opportunity to learn from other people (tour guides, teachers, volunteers, etc).
- To get out of the house!
- To expose children to potential new interests of study.
- To encourage your family to do things you wouldn’t normally do on your own.
What are some personal benefits we’ve experienced with group field trips?
- I’ve met awesome people whom I’ve had the pleasure of developing friendships with, and suddenly homeschool doesn’t seem so lonely.
- My boys are more confident in building friendships because they know they will see the same faces.
- Meeting a couple times a month breaks up the monotony of homeschool life and takes the pressure off me to provide my boys with social opportunities.
- My boys are more aware that they are not the only homeschool kids in the world and now feel a sense of community.
- We get to integrate, and form connections with, people who don’t look like us and are from different walks of life.
So, without further ado, let’s get into it, shall we?
27 Frugal Homeschool Field Trips to Take This Year
1. Tour your local creamery and learn how they make their ice cream.
Be sure to check out your local creamery to inquire about group tours. Our homeschool group has been able to arrange a tour with our local Coldstone Creamery for the past couple years. The field trip typically takes place in the morning during low-traffic hours. Our host gives us a brief history of how the creamery started and an in-depth tour of how their ice-cream is imported, stored, and made. She even shows us how they make their famous waffle cones. Of course, there are yummy samples to taste during this tour. The creamery is also kind enough to offer us a group discount on ice cream. It is the one time our kids get to have ice cream for breakfast and they love it!
2. Tour your local orchard and learn about the fruits in season—and pick some of your own!
We typically visit the orchard during strawberry season. Not all orchards are created equal, so be sure to choose one that specializes in field trips if you can. It makes a huge difference! Orchards that specialize in field trips typically have awesome learning centers, tour guides, thorough instructions on proper strawberry picking, group discounts on strawberries, and maybe even some complimentary fresh strawberry ice cream! We were able to learn about the plant life cycle, plant our own seeds (which we were allowed to take home), learn about bees and pollination, taste some local honey, and of course pick our own very own strawberries to take home and enjoy.
3. Tour your local pizza shop and learn how they make their classic pizza.
Who doesn’t want to know how to make pizza? Take advantage of group discount rates and arrange to have a tour and lunch at your local pizza parlor. Our homeschool group arranged this field trip last year and it was great not having to pack a lunch. There’s just something about eating together that solidifies bonds. Our children not only learned a new recipe, but they also learned the importance of safety and hygienic precautions when handling food in the kitchen.
4. Tour your local aviation museum and learn about historical events.
If you’re fortunate enough to live in an area that has free admission museums, take full advantage! Some museums also host free events or days when admission is free. I remember traveling to Washington, DC and all the museums were free to explore! Here in my small town, we’re fortunate enough to have an aviation museum full of history and awesome aircraft exhibits. We’ve visited there many times and it’s a great place for kids to learn about historical events like the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and WWII. Not to mention all there is to learn about the many different aircraft, military vehicles, and notable service men and women.
5. Tour your local news station and learn the ins and out of news production.
You may find favor at your local news station, so call around and arrange a tour! Our local news station was gracious enough to give our older children a tour of the facility. Our host was a meteorologist from the weather team. This was perfect because he was able to show us some really cool behind-the-scenes adventures. One of those adventures included some interactive green screen fun! I’d say that was the highlight of the field trip.
6. Tour your local police department and learn what officers do when they’re not out patrolling.
Of course learning how they catch criminals is exciting, but there’s much more that goes into being a police officer. Our homeschool group took a field trip to our local police station where we received a tour of the building—even where the criminals go when they first arrive. The most exciting part of the trip, aside from getting a tour of the police car and seeing how the siren works, was getting a peek inside the forensic department. The forensic department showed us how their latest technology can accurately analyze collected evidence from crime scenes. Oh, how the kids loved the magic of the blue light, which made invisible things visible!
7. Visit the aquarium and learn about aquatic life.
We’d have to travel over an hour to visit the huge Georgia aquarium and pay over $100 for the experience. Luckily, we have a local aquatic center for just a fraction of the cost. The kids can see freshwater aquariums, underwater habitats, and learn about native aquatic wildlife. The 200,000-gallon outdoor aquarium houses over 50 species that include trout, alligators, and more. Our group even got to watch the divers clean the tanks and feed the fish.
8. Tour your local post office and learn how mail is handled and transported.
Ever wonder what happens to a letter after you slip it into the mailbox and bid it farewell? Taking a field trip to the post office is a must! Our kids were quite surprised to learn just how much behind-the-scenes it takes for a letter to “magically” end up in our mailbox every afternoon. Our tour guide showed us the entire process of a letter from the time it enters the post office to its departure for delivery. The kiddos even got to check out the mail truck, pictured above, which was a huge hit. The wonder of children always amazes me; they’re impressed by the simplest things we often take for granted.
9. Get fishing lessons from your local education center.
This is one idea you don’t see on the field trip list very often, but fishing is a beautiful skill worth acquiring. This field trip has been on our list for the past three years. We aren’t a fishing type of family, but we were happy to learn the basics at our local education center. Since it’s a catch and release system, we don’t get to keep the fish we catch (not that we’ve ever caught any, haha), but it’s fun practice and a great pastime for kids. Afterward, we washed our hands and ate our packed lunches with our homeschool group at nearby picnic tables.
10. Tour your local fire department and learn about fire safety.
This is a pretty standard field trip, but if you haven’t visited the fire department yet, I highly suggest it. Parents and children alike will learn proper fire safety precautions as well as what firemen do at the fire station. At the very least, you’ll be convicted to change those batteries in your smoke detectors and implement a safe procedure for your family in the event of a house fire. Our children also learned about the safety equipment firemen must wear and their different functions. And since their masks can be pretty scary, the firemen made sure to let our children know that if they’re ever stuck in a fire and see someone wearing a mask, that person is there to help so never hide from them. But, of course, the highlight of this field trip was getting a tour of the fire engine!
11. Tour your local farm and learn how to care for farm animals.
One of the perks of living in Middle Georgia is that there are farms everywhere. We’ve visited quite a few farms and have petted our fair share of cute furry pals. Something special happens when children connect with animals. They learn so much just by observing; the gentleness of a sheep eating from your hand, the way horses stand when they’re asleep, how content a pig looks wallowing in the mud. It’s also important for children to understand how important it is to treat animals kindly and what taking proper care of animals looks like.
12. Arrange a hike and discover nature.
We love trails! Thankfully, there are plenty to choose from in our neck of the woods, so we’ve hiked quite a few. Taking a nice hike along your city’s most gorgeous trail is such an easy and low-cost field trip that everyone can enjoy. The kids get to explore and burn some energy, and the parents get their exercise in for the day. Everyone wins! If your trail has a welcome center, grab a brochure of the native flora and see how many you can find along the way. Pack a lunch to eat later with your group and bring plenty of water.
13. Visit a nature center and learn about native wildlife.
Zoos are pretty popular, but have you ever visited a nature center? Our local nature center was originally a rehabilitation center for injured and orphaned native wildlife that couldn’t be released back into the wild due to the severity of their injuries. We’ve seen a variety of owls, eagles, cougars, aquatic animals, and more. These beautiful creatures are now used to teach children (and adults!) the significance of each species and the role they play in our big world. It’s a beautiful depiction of the interdependent relationship between humans and animals.
14. Attend seasonal events together and bond.
Arrange to meet up and fellowship at your local fall festival, Thanksgiving parade, Christmas lights show, spring break carnival, Independence Day celebration, etc. In fact, we’ve actually run into a few of our homeschool friends at these events and arranged to enjoy the experience together. Pictured above is our children at the 2017 solar eclipse experience hosted by our local museum. It was our very first field trip of the school year and was very much impromptu. The museum provided education pamphlets, maps, telescopes, and delicious food trucks. How wonderful was it for us to experience this rare occasion with our homeschool friends? It’s an event we can all remember and talk about for years to come.
15. Tour your state capital or local government building and meet some of the nation’s leaders.
Does your state have a Homeschool Day at the Capitol event? If so, arrange a field trip with your homeschool buddies and go! Homeschool Day at the Capitol is when homeschoolers across the state gather to meet and thank legislators. It’s a full day of educational activities from classes to tours and beyond. It’s also a great way to fellowship with other homeschoolers in your state. But you don’t have to wait for this annual event to schedule a field trip. Most capital buildings are open to the public during normal business hours. Pictured above is our trip to the nation’s capital, where we toured the grounds of the Capitol Building and learned its purpose and history.
16. Organize a Field Day and work on sportsmanship and team-building skills.
Field day is probably our most popular annual homeschool event. We find a nice park to host it, ensure proper booking, and then meet and coordinate the events of the day. We accommodate all age groups from preschool to high school, and it’s typically an all day affair. Best of all, our children get to bond with their friends while practicing important skills like sportsmanship and team-building.
17. Tour your local library and learn how to search for books on your favorite topics.
Do you visit the library often? A guided tour might be just the thing to help your children become more familiar with the space, services, and resources the library has to offer. Guided tours offer lessons on how to search for books by author, keyword, or topic, how to identify and search for call numbers, how to request a book through Inter-library loan, and how to access ebooks, periodicals, etc. Our tour even included an interactive call number search game. Students were given a sheet of paper with a list of books that they had to search for and check off as they found them. It was so much fun!
18. Visit a science museum and take a STEAM class.
Science museums have much to offer, but did you know some of them also offer extracurricular classes? It’s worth looking into! Our recent trip to the Museum of Arts and Sciences included an interactive lesson on states of matter followed by a craft. The craft required students to make a piece of artwork using a liquid (melted wax), solid (crayons), and a gas (colorful air bubbles). They also enjoyed a live animal show. So, if you’re dreading teaching science to your children, make it easy on yourself and gather a few friends to take advantage of low-cost classes in your area. Be sure to note your museum’s minimum student requirement to ensure you have enough participants.
19. Visit the planetarium and learn how to identify constellations.
Turns out our local science museum also has a planetarium, which is an awesome field trip idea for astronomy lovers. If you have a planetarium in your area, this is an experience you won’t want to miss. A planetarium is a large room with a domed ceiling that allows you to see what the night sky looks like. It also serves as a theater that presents educational shows right inside the dome. You’ll have to recline for this experience! We couldn’t take pictures while inside the planetarium, so pictured above is the Science on a Sphere exhibit right outside the entrance. Inside the planetarium, we learned how to identify planets and constellations in the night sky. We also watched a 3-D presentation exploring galaxies.
20. Visit your local ranch and learn how to make corn flour.
Not only did we learn how to make corn flour by hand at our local ranch, but we also got to take a dive into the corn bin, among other things. Maybe your local ranch doesn’t offer this service, but I’m sure there are other great services they might offer, like seasonal field trips or guided tours. One seasonal field trip we took advantage of at our ranch was the guided program, Pilgrim to Pioneer Days, which taught the history of Thanksgiving. It included interactive lessons, a tractor wagon ride tour of the 1,500-acre farm, and access to the farm’s attractions. Prices may vary depending on the facility, but for our family of four, this trip averaged $36 for a full day’s experience.
21. Visit one of the tallest skyscrapers in your city and learn about its history.
Our boys love architecture, especially skyscrapers. Last year, we decided to take a trip into the city and go inside one of the tallest skyscrapers of Atlanta—The Westin Peachtree Plaza, also known as the Sun Dial. Of course, we wanted to visit the tallest one, but we had to settle for the skyscraper that offered open viewing to the public. For a small fee, we rode an elevator up 72 flights of the 723-foot building, the fifth tallest in the city. We read about its history, had a 360-degree view of the Atlanta skyline, gazed through the complimentary telescopes, and pointed out famed landmarks. It was an amazing experience. Even more so through the wide eyes of children. Afterward, we ate lunch and walked the Northside trail (I told you we love trails!).
22. Visit your local pumpkin patch during the Fall and enjoy seasonal activities and a hayride.
It shouldn’t be hard to find a local pumpkin patch that offers hayrides and other seasonal activities. Where we live, there’s much to choose from. The patch we like visiting offers face painting, story time, unstructured play activities, a fun hayride, and an array of different types of pumpkins available for purchase. Like most of the field trips I’ve mentioned, this was an organized field trip by our homeschool group and it was completely free!
23. Attend a Saturday workshop at Michaels or Home Depot and pack a lunch to eat at a nearby park afterward.
Did you know that Home Depot and Michaels hosts Saturday workshops for kids? If you didn’t, now you know! We used to take advantage of Lowes’ Build and Grow Kids’ workshops in the past but they’ve been discontinued. Thankfully, Home Depot hosts similar workshops where kids can learn how to make different objects out of wood. These workshops take place on scheduled Saturdays each month at participating Home Depots nationwide. Best of all? It’s FREE! And if that wasn’t awesome enough, the kids receive a free kit, apron, pin, and certificate of achievement. Michaels also hosts a $2 Kids’ Club craft project on scheduled Saturday mornings. This is a great budget-friendly field trip idea for your family or homeschool group.
24. Watch an outdoor movie hosted by your local park.
Another awesomely free field trip idea is to enjoy an outdoor movie at your local park. All you have to do is follow their social media pages to stay up-to-date on these types of events. Pictured above, we enjoyed a beautiful day at the lake that ended with an outdoor viewing of the movie, Moana. We enjoyed complimentary popcorn and hot cocoa, and we packed our own picnic. If you want to make this experience more “educational,” read or watch videos about the history and/or making of the movie. My boys loved learning how CGI movies are created. They also followed tutorials on how to draw some of the Moana characters and attempted to learn how to play “How Far I’ll Go” on the keyboard (bless my ears! Haha!).
25. Visit a Butterfly Garden and learn about different butterfly species.
Ever visit a butterfly garden before? There’s no time like the present to give it a go. I don’t want to assume everyone knows what a butterfly garden is, so I’ll offer a brief definition. A butterfly garden is where live butterflies are in an enclosure and you can walk through their habitat. They are also called butterfly houses and/or farms. It’s an absolutely beautiful observatory where people can learn about the many species of butterflies and their native habitats. As you can see from the picture above, the butterflies are typically friendly and will interact with you and your children. We even fed them nectar. Most gardens are open to the public, so research your area for the nearest butterfly exhibit.
26. Organize a “Lunch & Lesson” and learn something new together over a tasty meal.
Is it weird to take a field trip to someone’s home? We don’t think so! Lunch & Lesson is something my friend and I arranged this month for our children to learn Black History together. The event took place at my home where I prepared a lesson, craft, and lunch for the kiddos. Pictured above is last week’s Lunch & Lesson. We ate hot dogs and french fries, and learned about Bessie Coleman. Since Bessie Coleman was the first black woman to earn a pilot license, we built and painted wooden airplanes while listening to Newsboys. It was awesome! If this is something your speed, you could arrange something similar and invite people over. It doesn’t have to be Black history, you could cover any subject of interest or simply get together to craft.
27. Go to the skating rink, burn some energy, fellowship——and perhaps learn a new skill if you’re new to skating.
Our monthly skating events are not only fun, but an opportunity for my boys to hone their skating skills. In a world where “book smarts” is glorified, sometimes we forget our children also learn through developing gross motor skills. Roller skating works all parts of the body and is especially good for the heart. Like most physical activity, skating is also a great way for children to relieve stress. Our local skating rink is kind enough to open its facility to us during non-conventional hours, so long as we continue to have enough people participate. If your local skating rink doesn’t already offer something similar, you could gather enough homeschoolers and petition for it. It’s worth the group discount rate and your children will have a place they can regularly fellowship each month.
That concludes my list of frugal homeschool field trips that we’ve enjoyed over the years. This list is not all-comprehensive, but it does include the field trips I can remember off-hand—and also the ones I remembered to document on camera. If this is your first homeschool year and you’re feeling a way about not taking enough field trips, please know this wasn’t our reality our first year either. It took time for us to find a homeschool community we could feel a part of. However, not being plugged in didn’t stop us from enjoying family adventures of our own. I do hope this list inspires you to make the most of your homeschool experience.
Until next time, friends…