Tips for planning Iowa field trips
every homeschooling parent in our state can use!
We reached out to Iowa homeschooling mom, Jen Ciha,
the owner of fieldtripiowa.com,
a website with related social media
devoted to inspiring families
to learn and explore across Iowa.
Tips for Planning Iowa Field Trips
In this condensed edited version
of a conversation that Amber
(our Homeschool Iowa staff member)
had with Jen,
you’ll learn about:
- the BENEFITS of adding field trips to your homeschool,
- how to be more INTENTIONAL in planning field trips,
- where to find IDEAS for field trips in Iowa.
I'm so glad to chat with you, Jen.
We recently posted a blog about homeschool spaces that included a suggestion which immediately brought you to mind. The idea was to expand limited homeschool space by getting outside of our four walls. Taking homeschool field trips is a great way to do that.
Oh, absolutely, Amber! Field trips help you get out and go on adventures with your kiddos.
What are the benefits of adding field trips to our homeschool life?
Field Trips Offer
Field trips are just a wonderful way to take a break. We all need breaks, whether we're experienced or new homeschooling mamas.
Here’s an example. I don’t know what is up with that third week of January. What is it that happens to our homeschools that week? Have you been there? I’ve now started writing that whole week off as a scheduled break. We always plan something different for that third week of January.
Field Trip Tip
Scheduling breaks for field trips
gives you and your kids something to look forward to.
Field Trips Provide for
I also think, if you're bringing the whole family or if you're going with a group of friends, homeschool field trips can be a fun way to add a different element to learning.
Instead of getting in a rut where you're doing schoolwork on your own in your own home, field trips assure that you are getting out and exploring.
Field Trips Supply
A third benefit is the opportunity to represent homeschooling to your larger community. I think it's important for homeschoolers to go to community places, like the fire station or the police department, and interact with the public servants there.
We've been told numerous times that homeschoolers are one of the favorite tour groups at the Iowa State Capitol building. The tour guides love it when homeschooling families come. They think we're so much fun. We're respectful; we're polite; and we're really engaged in what they're teaching us. That represents homeschooling in a very positive way.
I’ve found that true when we take field trips, too. Also, as homeschooling families, we often enjoy a different “time zone” to visit locations.
We can go to museums and educational programs in the offseason or during the quiet hours of the day. That's when we’ve been able to have great conversations with the people at the Science Center or local children's museum. I love turning my kids loose to chat with adult staff at these locations. We've had some great interactions that way.
Sometimes, though, Jen, I’ve started the school year thinking, “Okay, I'm going to be intentional about planning for field trips.” Then, I don't know what happens, but I've looked at my calendar, and it's October, and all the things that I thought I was going to do, I haven’t managed to do!
Do you have some tips for planning Iowa field trips that could help us be more intentional and accountable to make sure that we actually follow through?
How can we be more intentional and accountable
in scheduling field trips?
Place Field Trips on Your Calendar
Field Trip Tip
Match your field trip ideas with targeted dates
and include your kids in preparations.
This year (and we'll see how it goes), I'm using Google calendars with my students. I've made up a school calendar on Google, and then shared it with my older children who have email addresses.
My kids are practicing checking their calendars and seeing what is going to be happening in our school daily.
Share Plans to Build More Accountability
Another easy solution is scheduling homeschool field trips with friends. Plan to meet up with a group for a self-guided field trip. It doesn't matter if you're in a small homeschooling group or large support group, or even going with just one other family.
If you have others who will be kind of bummed out if you don't show up, that will encourage you to keep your commitment to your plans. Plus, it's always more fun going with friends.
These are great tips. I'm hearing that we can create accountability by including our kids in the process so they can help make sure we follow through with our plans.
Then, also, we can include other people. This is a great idea because it also removes the burden of having to create and plan the events by ourselves.
Next, I’d like to hear about how to find suggestions for places to go on field trips.
I know you shared a little bit about going to the fire station and the police department. What are some other tips for planning Iowa field trips that include unique places you have visited?
Where can we find
creative field trip ideas?
Check Jen’s Website
To help you find field trip destinations, my website is divided into regional sections: western, central, and eastern Iowa. If you know what region you're going to be traveling in or what direction you want to head, that will help target your options.
I also have a post on my blog, 50 Field Trips in Your Local Iowa Community, that is full of fun options and destinations across Iowa. You will find local ideas there, no matter where you live.
Field Trip Tip
Use Homeschool Iowa field trip resources.
They're offered at the bottom of this post.
I also love the programs that are hosted by my local Polk County Conservation District. They have unique and fun events, including hands-on activities. I recommend you check with your local county conservation program to see what it offers.
Another example of a unique local field trip is a recent group visit we made to DART in Des Moines. We learned about how city buses are operated, and we all boarded a bus and rode around town. It was a fun adventure.
All the kids just thought it was amazing because they'd never been on a bus before. And, since our group included older students who might be using public transportation in their near future, it introduced the experience to them.
Thanks for sharing these ideas, Jen. I am hearing that following interest pursuits is a good place to look for new places and ideas for field trips.
Our family experienced this a few years ago when we first got into beekeeping. We asked a local gentleman who kept beehives to give us a tour.
It was an organic field trip on its own. Connecting with people who have special talents or skills can lead to some great field experiences.
Follow Interest Leads
Well, on what you just said, Amber, you were wanting to learn something, and you looked for a source to fill that need. You knew what end goal you were looking for.
I think that's really the key to finding field trip ideas. You can ask, “What do I want my children to learn or experience from a field trip?"
Field Trip Tip
Follow your students’ interests when planning field trips.
Keep the end learning goal in mind.
If you're studying Laura Ingalls Wilder in language arts or about pioneers in social studies, it's a great time to visit a history museum, drive to historic locations, or visit pioneer farm sites where they offer educational programs.
If you're wanting to teach your child something new, go to the real-life source.
That's fantastic. I love that there are so many opportunities, no matter where you are, to connect with those kinds of experiences.
Jen, thank you for sharing your tips for planning Iowa field trips. I look forward to reading about new field trip adventures you will share on your Field Trip Iowa blog and social media.
This chat has inspired me to plan some field trip adventures with my own homeschool family. I’m definitely going to follow your advice to be intentional about planning for our next field trip.
Take these simple steps to plan your own homeschool field trips:
1. Scout out and list
potential field trip destinations
using the tips and resources provided here to generate ideas.
your homeschool field trips
on the calendar to provide intentional breaks.
your kids to help with the planning
or invite a friend to join you to create some accountability.
Here Is More Help!
Additional Field Trip Resources
from Homeschool Iowa
Field Trip Guide
Homeschool Iowa Member Resource:
Family Field Trip Guide
Are you a Homeschool Iowa member? If so, you'll find this incredible new 88-page resource, the "Family Field Trip Guide" in our website Member Portal. It contains planning tools, like field trip log and journal templates, and a field trip directory listed by state. The guide also has a huge section of field trip printable pages, including student activity sheets.
Our Homeschool Iowa website Member Portal is packed with lots of other resources and tools for our members, too, like our Homeschool Iowa Planner, high school transcript templates, special offers, and more! Not a member? Become a member partner today!
Homeschool Iowa members
will find this "Family Field Trip Guide"
on our website Member Portal.
Do you have tips for planning Iowa field trips that you'd like to share?
Offer them in the comments section below.