One time I was asked what my favorite subject to teach was. I had a hard time answering the question because I love science and history. Both of them are such exciting subjects to me, and incredibly easy to make hands on. Today science is on my mind because we had our first field trip this week.
We went to a local rescue zoo. We took notebooks, and colored pencils and observed the animals there. My kids loved it. They made plans for going to that zoo again as soon as we leave there. In between trips they’re talking about what we will do there next time.
Do you have a zoo in your city? It’s a great place for field trips. But you probably already knew that. But, what if the zoo isn’t in your budget on a regular basis? It certainly isn’t in mine, I’m lucky we have a good nature center that is free, but what if you don’t?
Great Places For Free Field Trips
- Grocery store or Asian market. These are great places to go if you’re studying sea creatures. We went to both of them when studying Swimming Creatures from Apologia. We stared into the lobster tank and were able to learn much more about them than looking at it from a book. At the Asian market we were able to see large amounts of fish waiting to be sold and learn about them.
- A park or your own back yard. Now if you’re actually good at catching bugs or small animals, which I’m not, then you can catch many insects in your backyard or a local park if you’re patient. Put it in a small jar with holes poked in it for the afternoon. How does it move? What is it doing? If you put leaves in there, does it eat them?
- Pet Store. This is my absolute favorite place for field trips for elementary and pre-schoolers. You will find a wide variety of pets there, and if you’re lucky enough to have an exotic pet store in your area then you can see an even wider variety of animals. We studied crabs the last time we went there. You can compare reptiles and amphibians within a few feet of each other. Most of the pet stores are willing to let you hold the pets if you ask politely. Think about the information you can learn.
You know what else you can get from a pet store? Crickets. Have you ever studied them? We did when we were studying Flying Creatures (I’m a big Apologia fan, by the way), and we learned all manner of things for about a dollar’s worth of crickets and some dog food I got from my mom to feed them. We drew them, we studied them under magnifying glasses, and watched what they ate. It was fascinating.
But, what if you’re not studying animals? Are there easy field trips to make for those too?
If you live in a big city, keep an eye out for rock and mineral collector shows. The entry fee is usually only a couple of dollars and that’s a great trip. Or again, head to your local park and see what you find there. Then head to a local nursery. They can probably tell you about local soil content, what types of rocks you’ll encounter as you’re creating a garden, what plants grow well in your area, when you should plant. Did you know in Texas we get strawberries in March? I was shocked to find out that the growing season for strawberries in the Northern areas is closer to May or June. It’s 100 degrees here by that time, they’d scorch.
There are a whole realm of places to go for little to no money for science if you’re willing to think outside of the box. What’s your favorite place to go on a field trip? I’ve shared mine, our local nature center.