Field trips are one of the best parts about the flexible homeschool schedule! They are a great way to experience real world situations and allow kids to explore extracurricular interests.
Field trips do not have to cost a lot of money! By getting creative, you can turn pretty much any location into a fun and unique learning experience. Most of these trips are possible in hometown communities, even in more rural locations.
Some of these trip ideas are better suited for a larger organized homeschooling group, such as your local co-op. This would be considerate for the larger businesses where a visit would need to be scheduled in advance and someone on staff would be taking the time to speak with the group.
After these visits, there are a few ways you could support the businesses for taking the time to meet with your homeschool group. You could consider:
- Handwritten thank you notes that the businesses could display.
- A photo and write up for a local media outlet.
- A photo and shout out on social media.
- Leaving a positive review for the place of business.
- Supporting their business with a donation or purchase.
These are some ideas that create a win-win opportunity for everyone involved!
What kind of free field trips could your children or homeschool group participate in?
1- Festivals and Community Events
Community festivals take place throughout the year with all different themes. There are food festivals, music festivals, arts & crafts festivals and they offer great opportunities for homeschool learning experiences.
Just Google the name of your state + festival and you should find something close to you. These are great ways to participate in community events and turn them into educational homeschool field trips.
There are all kinds of interesting free museums. Some museums are free while others may charge a parking or entrance fee. For some communities and people, these museums are a passion project that they want to share with others for free.
They may be the result of sharing a lifelong hobby with the world, such as coins, stamps, toys, or even salt & pepper shakers!
Museums are homes for collections or artifacts that tell stories of a different time or place… they are a great way to learn more about people, places and the world!
3- Bakeries or Candy Stores
Bakeries or candy stores often do a lot of the work in action (and offer samples)!
Not long ago, we were traveling and came across a candy store that had candies traveling across the ceiling on a machine that was very similar to some of the Rube Goldberg videos our son enjoys watching. This store was not the destination of the trip, but it might as well have been! You never know what kind of bonus sweet treats you will find in candy stores and bakeries!
Their processes from mixing to baking to the finished product allow an opportunity to incorporate a lot of homeschool STEAM lessons. I wouldn’t say this is a completely free field trip as it would be pretty hard to leave without a “souvenir” 🙂
4- Historic Sites
Many historic site treasures are located in every hometown. There are homes, cemeteries, and landmarks all over the states that offer a chance to go back and take a walk through time and history.
You could contact your hometown association or chamber of commerce to find out more about what may be of interest in your area.
Another great resource for finding historic sites is local college history professors. Sometimes they take groups on field trips to places that may not be otherwise recognized widely in the community.
You can create field trip lessons in any kind of state or local parks and playgrounds. It could offer a fun location to complete an outdoor scavenger hunt.
Parks and playgrounds with kids running around are a great use of time for kids to engage in creative play, to get exercise and to work on forming new friendships and problem-solving. If all of this is taking place, parents can use the time for those rare moments when you get to relax and just enjoy the carefree fun that kids can have!
6- Fire/Police Stations
A fire or police station may be more appealing to younger students and require advanced scheduling (consider doing this with a co-op group) but these first responders often have great information to share with young kids.
Some fire stations even have a “smoke house” portable unit where they educate kids about fire safety and then let them experience a smoke filled room and a safe way to exit. Talk about life-saving information!
Police officers are great to talk to kids about things like the importance of wearing helmets and bicycle safety.
Most first responders are more than willing to let kids enjoy checking out their vehicles and will usually turn on the lights and sirens.
7- Radio Station
Maybe your homeschoolers are interested in podcasting, broadcasting or other forms of media. A radio station would offer a peek into some of the tools and communication systems used for news and entertainment.
Although technology is rapidly changing the way that news and entertainment is being delivered, radio stations still play a vital role in local communities and can be especially critical in remote areas where less streaming or network options are available. This would be a great learning opportunity!
8- Farmer’s Markets
If you have a farmer’s market in your area, you have a real treasure for a homeschool field trip. There are lessons that touch on multiple subjects from food and farm lessons for younger students to health, nutrition and advanced agricultural topics for older students.
A student could participate in all aspects of a visit to a farmer’s market from making a list of some vegetables to buy to using those later in a salad or dish. It would be a real-time farm to table experience!
9- Hiking Trails
If you have a student who loves the outdoors, take the class outdoors on a hiking trail. There are some beautiful waterfalls and all kinds of hands-on learning possibilities with nature trails. It’s a great setting for checklist scavenger hunts and just observation of habitats and wildlife.
There are great walking trails as well as biking trails to explore if your family likes to explore nature and exercise together!
10- Arts & Crafts Stores
Stores that sell arts & crafts typically have workshops or have someone that you can observe doing pottery, sculpting, painting, candle-making or all different kinds of crafts.
In addition to observing them, they may have times when students could get hands-on experiences with the different types of arts and crafts. There is some amazing talent to find in places where people are pursuing a hobby and/or a business. Wood carving is one that comes to mind where a before and after project is amazing to see!
11- Farms or Orchards
There are so many lessons that come to life on a visit to a farm or orchard. Plants & gardening, life cycles, goods and services, food to table… a farm or orchard offers hands-on learning experiences.
These are typically free to visit but you could support a great local business and it would be money well spent on delicious fruits and vegetables that your family will enjoy.
Part of the fun and experience is picking the fruit or vegetables as a family and then enjoying them later in a salad or for dinner.
12- Home Depot Workshops
Home Depot offers Saturday workshops for students ages 5 to 12. They supply the students with a tool and information to complete a project.
You could incorporate this learning into other lessons the following week… writing a “how to” tutorial, comparing different projects, researching ways to improve the project for example. This is a good opportunity for teaching your homeschoolers the value in DIY skills!
13- Scenic Byway Drives
Road trips can make great field trips!
There is a scenic byway drive not far from us where the traffic always slows down for the elk that cross the road and run along side the cars. Pretty amazing to see and that’s just one part of it… there are breathtaking views and stops along the way that make the drive well worth the time and gas.
Homeschool students who are interested in photography would have a great time getting to stop along these scenic routes and practice their skills at documenting the drive!
14- Ponds or lakes
Ponds and lakes are full of life, habitats and ecosystems to explore. You could scoop up some water to take back and make observations and also, where permissible, take fishing equipment and have multiple lessons from a fishing field trip.
Older students could take the learning to a higher level with observations about the condition of sunlight and aquatic plants or if the conditions and depth of the water is ideal for fish, frogs or other amphibians.
15- Post Office
At some point, you will cover the basics of writing a letter. How much more meaningful is that experience if your homeschoolers take the letter to the post office and go through the whole process of mailing it?
A post office may or may not be able to accommodate a student by showing them a behind the scenes look at the mailing system, but there is a lot of work that goes into the process. It really makes you appreciate the snail mail process!
16- Animal Shelter
Visiting an animal shelter is a bonus homeschool field trip for both the students and the animals. Students get to learn more about proper care of animals and the animals get to spend time with people showing them attention. Win-win!
A courthouse visit is a great learning experience for older students, especially those who may be interested in government.
Courthouses are another option that would work best for a scheduled co-op group but they are usually very accommodating to allow for tours and a peek behind the scenes at the work that takes place in municipal buildings. They may even let students observe court in session!
18- Newspaper Office
The printing press days, although more modern in operation now, are not gone yet! Seeing newspapers in production really is a sight to behold. This offers a great way to encourage and discuss the writing process.
So much takes place between the idea and the printed copy, and visiting a newspaper business is one way to see how writing takes shape and goes from an idea to published copy.
Although most parades are on the weekend and not necessarily what you would think of for a field trip, they are free and lots of fun. If the parade is centered around a theme or holiday, it may be a good research project prior to the event.
You can take back a lot of lessons from the experience to incorporate it (and candy) in homeschool lessons in the following days.
20- Community Theaters
While (most) plays require the cost of a ticket, a trip to the actual theater would be a free educational opportunity great for a local homeschool co-op.
There is a lot to see inside a theater and the people that put on these plays have a lot of time and effort invested so they would be glad to show you some of the things that take place behind the scenes.
21- Local community colleges/trade schools
For the middle and high school students, a local community college or trade school is a perfect way to spend time on a field trip.
These schools are also in the recruiting business and they have days set aside for showing groups of pre-college age students a snapshot of all of the different courses that are offered.
You can see from most of these ideas that a field trip can take place in just about any location! These types of experiences are one of the benefits of the flexible scheduling that homeschool provides.
Real, hands-on experiences are a great investment of time and learning that do not have to cost a lot of money!