Week in Review & Planning Field Trips

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Princess at the Fire Department Field Trip

This was an awesome homeschooling week. We got so much accomplished. Lots of academics and also some other fun stuff.
Our field trip this week got cancelled so I thought I would highlight planning field trips in this post. First, our week in review:

  • Church & Business Mtg
  • Digestive System Co-op
  • Homeschool Choir
  • Career Readiness Co-op – Writing a Resume
  • Breastfeeding Support Group Meeting
  • Online Computer Classes at the library
  • Bible Study
  • Skeletal System Review Worksheets
  • Workbooks
  • Easy Peasy Online School (my review of this curriculum here)
  • Blogging, of course
  • Director got & started a bi-weekly editing job with local TV station
  • Open Gymnasium time with the Homeschool Group
  • Natural Science Museum
  • Kids Carnival tomorrow

It sure seems like more when I list it like that. Ok, planning field trips next.

Planning Homeschool Field Trips

Our family plans most of the field trips for our homeschool group. Our group wasn’t doing many field trips when we started attending this group years ago. I decided that if I wanted field trips to happen I was going to have to do it myself. Here is the process.

First I decide what my children would be interested in doing for a field trip. I look at what we will be studying that year. In 1st grade I usually do a “Community Workers” type of lesson so if I have a child going into 1st grade I will gear my field trips towards those occupations. I also ask my kids which ones they liked from last year and also if there are any they have thought of that they would like to do. I also ask them if there are any they would prefer to never do again 🙂 I make up a list of all the prospective field trips and what specific businesses would be called if we choose to do that field trip.

Then I ask around and see who would like to go on a field trip. I usually ask via email or during the monthly meeting or I just ask my friends that homeschool. I have found that to have a business host a field trip they like to have a group of people to make it worth their while. There are 8 of us and I can usually find at least 2 more people to join us for any given field trip. Most places require or ask for a group of at least 10 people for them to take the time to host a field trip. We have just gone with only our family, but still 8 is a pretty good size group. I don’t usually narrow my list down by these inquires into who would like to attend. But if your family is not as large as ours you may have to narrow the list down to field trips that have at least 10 people interested.

Once I know I have the 10 or so people that would commit to go I start to call and schedule the field trips with the different businesses. Usually people say they will go but you end up with about 2/3 of those people actually going, just a heads up, I usually call to schedule anyway.

The process of scheduling:

  • I have a calendar printed up in front of me with our families major commitments on it like: homeschool co-op, appointments I can’t change, church commitments, sport commitments, etc. I also list things that the majority of the things that the homeschool group will be doing like: open gym time, meetings, other events, etc. I figure that trying to host a field trip during the time that kids would normally be at say a soccer game might be a hard sell when asking for family participation in the field trip. Also, the families might be a little miffed that their child wanted to go do both events but I scheduled it during that time.
  • In front of me I also have an open email or Word document ready for me to type in the information so I can send it to the group when I am finished my calls.
  • I have made a list of the places of business for each field trip and phone numbers. When I call I write down the contact persons name, their direct line, and any specifics they give me like: no more than 25 people, no kids under 3yo, no open toed shoes, etc.
  • I almost always schedule field trips for Wednesday mornings. Why do I do this? I have no idea. Whenever I call I look down at my calendar and that is usually the only day free. It looks like it would fit nicely in the middle of the week. I really have no idea why I schedule them mainly on Wednesdays. But you should have some idea what day you would like to go on your field trips because the contact person will ask you, “When would you like to come?” I usually give the a list of the next  3 Wednesdays that are available. I also suggest to them that we usually do field trips in the mornings. Sometimes we have done them on different days and in the afternoon but for the most part they are on Wednesdays and in the morning hours.
  • I set up with them the date, time, and special requirements for that field trip OR I leave a message. In the message I say, “I would like to set up a school field trip to your place of business,” and leave my contact info and sometimes possible dates for the field trip. Some people still do not know what homeschooling is but they understand if I say “school field trip” so I usually word it that way. Leaving a message is kind of a pain because I was hoping to set everything up right then when I call. I am appreciative that they are willing to host the field trip but waiting for that return phone call can take weeks.
  • In my email or Word document that I have open I list: the date and time of the field trip or I if I haven’t gotten ahold of anyone I write TBD or “left message waiting to hear back” just so the other families know that it is in the works.
  • In the email to the homeschoolers I also ask that whoever is interested in coming to the field trip to let me know that they are interested.
  • As emails and texts come in from the homeschoolers interested, I start a list of people wanting to attend. Some field trips only allow 25 people so when I hit that number I don’t stop, I continue adding names till I get to 30 because I know some won’t show up on that day, happens every time. BUT the opposite can happen. I have had field trips where people just showed up without telling me and we were way over our number allowed. The business still let us have the field trip but had to split us into two groups and it was hard to reschedule with that bank again. So try and emphasize nicely that you need to know who will be attending.
  • When I have reached my limit for field trip participants I send out an email stating that that particular field trip is full.
  • I also set up an automatic calendar update to come through the group to remind them that the field trip is coming up.
  • The day before the field trip I call and remind the business that we will be coming.
  • The day of the field trip I try and be the first ones there. This is not always the case but I try. I find my contact person and let him/her know we are here.
  • I thank them at the end of the field trip for letting us come.
  • I try and remember to send a thank you note to them for allowing us to come. I am terrible at remembering this. Not sure why it is that way. I very much appreciate all they do/did but I totally forget. But you (and I) should send a thank you of some kind.

Here is a list of the field trips we have taken in the past just to get your thoughts going on what you could do:

  • Library
  • Statehouse
  • Transfer Station
  • Community Television Station
  • Waste Water Treatment Plant
  • Bank
  • State Police
  • Hospital
  • Buses
  • Natural Foods Co-op
  • Fire Department
  • Recycling
  • Apiary
  • Animal Shelter
  • Food Shelf
  • Farm
  • Dairy Farm
  • Stable
  • Post Office
  • Newspaper
  • Veterinarian
  • Town Office

Here are some pictures from our Fire Department Field Trip last week.

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Checking out the Trucks
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All Suited Up
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Listening to the Chief
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Our Group
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Explaining the Equipment
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Tech, Director, Artist, and two friends checking out the Fire Truck
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Listening Intently
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Fun on a Fire Truck
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What does a fireman wear and why.
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Everyone loved going in the fire trucks
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Collector checking out the Fire Truck
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Our Group
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Our Group again
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