Winter can bring more than rough skin and chapped lips; it can also bring great field trips for homeschoolers! It can also be a rough time for homeschooling, for both parents and children. The long holiday season is finally over, vacation time, if you took it, has ended, and it’s time to get back into the swing of things. For some, this can be quite an endeavor, especially if you happen to live in places where it gets extra cold through the winter months. If ever there were a time for cabin fever to set in, it will be this season.
It’s certainly tempting just to turn on an educational television program or video and stay on the couch all day, but that’s not going to cure the winter blues. Instead, why not use this season to start a new tradition of interesting outings and field trips? It’s fun, the whole family can take part, and if you play your cards right, you won’t have to spend an excessive amount of money. Here are some ideas I came up with.
Ways to Get Involved in Winter Field Trips for Homeschoolers
Did I just say it’s cold outside? Yes, of course, it is, but getting geared up in your warmest outerwear can be just as fun as any other activity. Besides, how can you truly fill in your Nature Notebook if you don’t get out and experience nature in all seasons? The truth is, you can find some very interesting plants, birds, and animals who greatly enjoy winter and are quite active at this time of year. You might even get to view their habitats, eating habits, singing patterns, and so much more. Besides, it’s fun to focus on things most people might never get to see because they’re inside, watching educational videos! If you're lucky enough to have a botanical garden in your location, see if they have any winter classes. Nature centers generally do have winter field trips for homeschoolers!
As long as we’re talking about actually doing things outside in the cold, we can’t forget winter sports. Years ago, ice skating was a community event in some places that garnered quite an outpouring from the locals. It may not be nearly as prevalent these days, but it’s still fun. Skiing and snowshoeing are other ideas, and even if you don’t have the know-how, you might call it an educational experience to learn. Maybe you live in an area that's hosted a winter Olympics. Check that area to see if they have winter classes or have opportunities to experience winter sports on another level!
Local Agricultural Areas
What happens on farms or at greenhouses during the winter when gardens are completely at rest? If you don’t know, it might be fun to schedule a trip to find out for yourself. For most farmers, winter is no reason to stay indoors! Animals must be cared for, which requires much more work in the winter. Farmers must also look ahead to make sure everything is ready for planting season. Your annual flowers and vegetable plants get their start in greenhouses long before winter is over. Seed catalogs begin to show up as early as December. Focusing your attention on agriculture can easily turn into a Unit Study that can go on for as long as you’d like.
PE class could easily be wrapped up with a membership to a local gym or fitness center. Not only is this a great way to stay fit by working out, lifting weights, or playing indoor sports, but you can also use this time to teach your younger children how to swim if they don’t already know so that they’ll be ready for an exciting summer. It’s also a great way to work out those extra wiggles that can often disrupt winter homeschooling days and allow children with ADD or ADHD to expend their extra energy in a very healthy manner.
Take a Vacation
Winter is a phenomenal time to finally take that great family vacation you’ve been dreaming of. What makes this time of year even better for doing so is the fact that winter rates are cheaper. Not only at the venues, you intend to visit, but also hotel rates and airfare too. If you drive, you’re not likely to have to fight hoards of traffic either, as most people do not vacation in colder weather. And, bonus, most families won't travel this time of year because their children are in public school, keeping the crowds lower.
Take a Craft or Pottery Class
Your little (and not so little) artists will greatly enjoy this activity. Do some searching or contact a local homeschooling co-op to find out if there are any of these classes in your area and try your hand at something new. You never know what it might lead to, or even if this is something your little ones might one day make a career of. If crafting or pottery isn’t interesting, then consider other classes such as cooking, painting, musical instruments, vocals, or gymnastics. Your local art gallery might have some great classes to check out.
Visit a museum
Museums are an excellent cold weather field trip destination and can cover so many different areas of interest, including an art museum, planetariums, children's museum, a state park or national park museum, an arboretum, natural history museum, or a science center/science museum. Different geographical locations around the nation have specific museums related to historical events, e.g. the Civil War. What’s more, much like vacation destinations, museums often experience lower traffic in the colder months and ticket prices may be marked down. Better yet, you might find that the museum near you has lowered rates for homeschooling families as well. Be sure to ask if there is a museum staff member available to help you plan your trips with specific events and exhibits or special activities that might be going on when you plan to travel. You can even plan a few days ahead and prepare a lesson plan to amp up the family excitement!
See a Movie
Of course, you can go out and enjoy a movie anytime, but homeschool families know that there is more to life than meets the eye. So, if you plan ahead, you might be able to arrange a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on during the playing of a move and how the whole place is run. For the budding videographer in the family, this could be a true hallmark moment, even in the winter. If you plan early, you can make an entire event of it, with activities planned around the theme of the movie you’re seeing, especially if the movie has a book version as well.
Visit the State Departments
It might not be the first thing that pops into your head but taking a field trip to the Department of Transportation, the Public Works Department, the police station, post office, or fire department in your city, could be more educational than you might think. The water department and the sewage treatment facilities are critical components of our infrastructure. It’s also a great way to learn about how the highway department plans for bad weather and driving conditions, how they contact emergency crews when inclement weather comes in, and what they do to ensure public safety. Adding a trip to a local television or radio station to meet the meteorologist team can make the outing complete in educational value. As an added bonus, if your children are high school teens and nearing the driving age, it can be a great way to “drive” home the necessity to learn safe driving habits and/or when to simply stay home and off the roads.
If you live in a capital city, look at touring the capitol building of your state. If you know, or can locate the representative of your area, you might even get some "backstage" tours.
These are just a few of my own ideas for winter homeschool field trips for homeschool parents and students. I hope you found something you can plan soon, and when you do, don’t forget to have lots of fun with it. When springtime rolls around, you can plan another adventure by scheduling your attendance at a Great Homeschool Convention near you.
With seven regional conventions around the country, you’re sure to find one near you. For those that have to travel, we work together with local hotels to arrange special package discounts for our attendees, which you can register for, right from our website. To make it an all-in-one visit, while you’re on the website purchasing convention tickets and your hotel stay, you can also grab tickets to any special events that will be going on there.
Great Homeschool Conventions feature dozens of experienced speakers, hundreds of informative workshops, and plenty of curriculum and resource vendors, so you certainly won’t want to miss it. Be sure to visit the Great Homeschool Conventions website today to find out more. Our conventions are, as always: Equipping. Encouraging. FUN!