Hi Friend! This week all of our homeschool tips begin with the letter F. I can’t wait to get started. If you have missed any of the previous weeks’ posts, just click on the alphabet letter below.
Homeschool Tip #1: Field Trips
Field trips are a must if you homeschool, even if it’s a trip right down the street.
Don’t overlook the obvious places, like the errands that you run.
- The grocery store can provide learning experiences that are beneficial for adulthood. A child’s sense of direction, finding objects, comparing prices, trying new foods, trying and cooking new recipes, etc.
- The library is also another great place. You can teach your child about each of the library sections, and how to find the books they want, or ones they have ordered online.
You can teach them how to check out their books and how/when to return them. This is a great place to learn responsibility. If they’re old enough, get them their own library card.
- The gas station may not be something special, but it is educational. Does your child know what to do if there is a fire at the gas station? Teach them to look for the emergency gas shut-off button at every gas station. Also, never smoke while pumping gas.
- Public transportation is also good. Teach your kids how to keep their wallet/purse safe, and to be careful with strangers around.
- Banks. Maybe you and your child can come up with some questions to ask the teller the next time you go. If they’re not busy, maybe they’ll show you something interesting in the bank.
- Restaurants. If you have a restaurant that serves food from other countries, this is a great way to teach your kids to try new things. Restaurant outings are great to add to any country study that you may be doing.
- Post Office. Where does that letter go, after you give it to the postmaster? Ask. Maybe they’ll show you, or at least tell you.
- Veterinarians, Animal shelters, etc. Possibly shadowing at these facilities for even one day would be educational and fun.
- Medical Clinic. It’s not fun going here when you’re sick, but if you’re just going for a tour, than it’s not too bad. Meet the staff and be prepared to ask questions. They may even let you listen to your heartbeat with their stethoscope.
- Jewelry store. This field trip is a sparkly one. Ask your jeweler to walk and explain the displays of jewelry. What is your child’s favorite piece?
- Hotel/Motel. Kids love to spend the night at a different location. The experience is so different from the normal that they’re used to. Take the opportunity to teach them the correct ways to serve themselves from the breakfast area, how to use the elevator, hotel phone, and look at the fire escape plan. See if your child can follow the directions on the sheet.
- Hardware stores. Tools, tools, tools. For some people this is just like heaven, but not for me. Give me a bookstore, craft store, or music store any day.
- Greenhouse. Be prepared with questions, or maybe they’ll let your shadow them for a day. How many different types of flowers are there?
- Funeral Home. Yes, it’s no place fun to go when the family is in mourning, but what is it like behind the scenes? Sometime when you have time, ask them, maybe they’ll give you a tour.
- Dentist. I know the dentist can be scary, but he/she doesn’t mean to be. If you take a little time and get comfortable in the surroundings, there’s plenty to see and learn. The dentist can explain lots of stuff!
Science centers were big attractions for us as we travelled in different states. The Asheville Museum of Science in North Carolina was really neat. The kids and all us adults had a great time.
Even the toddlers had things they could do.
For more information, visit the Asheville Museum of Science website.
Some educational field trips happen in your own backyard.
Every year, we have Killdeer birds come around. They lay their eggs on the ground, and they blend right in with the surroundings.
We took the opportunity to study Killdeers, and their unusual behavior if you get close to their eggs. The mommy will actually pretend to be hurt and try to lead you away from her nesting site. It’s the weirdest thing, but she sure is smart.
Take advantage of the wildlife that you have in your own backyard to study and learn about.
Amish country, that’s what I think of when I think of Lancaster. That and Sight & Sound Theatre, and the Biblical Tabernacle Reproduction.
This tour takes you through the entire Tabernacle and a guide gives a speech and answers any questions. It is very informative and educational.
It really helps the Bible come alive. For more information and details visit: Biblical Tabernacle Reproduction
Professional circuses are fun to go to, because there is so much going on all at once. There’s usually a ton of people, lights, noise, and applause.
But the small circuses that come to town are just as entertaining and even more educational, in my opinion.
When the circus came to our town, the kids got to ride a double humped camel. They were scared but I’m glad they did it. You don’t get to ride a camel where I live very often!
If you get to New York and can squeeze in a trip to the Corning Museum of Glass, you won’t be disappointed.
I never imagined that glass was used in so much of our technology, communications, and electricity supplies.
Also, watching how glass containers are made was very interesting. We watched a few of these demonstrations, because it is just so fascinating.
For more information and details: Corning Museum of Glass
If you’re fortunate enough to have a firefighter in the family, sometimes you can get special access to things with the fire station.
For example, the kids were able to watch the firefighters practice putting out this practice burn. It was interesting, but hot.
At the fire station, you see the fire trucks, try on helmets, fire coats, boots, carry an air tank and if they let you, come down the pole.
Our firefighter went over fire safety.
Like, NEVER hide from a firefighter if you are in a burning building, don’t play with matches, cover your mouth and nose and get down near the ground if there is smoke, and Stop, Drop, and Roll if you are on fire.
With your field trip, it’s a good idea to check your smoke detectors, go over your fire escape plans, put a whistle by each upstairs window, and review how to use a fire extinguisher.
Using a fire extinguisher is easy if you remember PASS.
P – Pull the pin
A – Aim the nozzle
S – Squeeze the handles
S – Sweep side to side at the base of the fire.
Any battlefield is educational. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is no exception. We enjoy riding the double decker bus or riding in our car and listening to the battlefield stories while we take a tour of the fields and see the monuments.
Gettysburg has a great variety of attractions. If you want more details or info about a possible visit. Gettysburg National Military Park
Did you know there was a Grand Canyon in Pennsylvania?
If you get a chance to go look, it is beautiful. It creates a great background for pictures too.
For more information: Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania
Jamestown was a really fun place to go. It took us the entire day, and I’m still not sure we saw it all.
Everything was very hands-on, and the staff actually encouraged the kids to try things. The staff was dressed in the clothing of that time, and they gave speeches and demonstrations at different places in the fort.
For more information and to see their website: Jamestown Settlement
Get a kid near a body of water and and give them a cup, and there good for at least an hour!
I always packed a few extra cups and the aquarium fishing nets when we went to picnic at the lake.
There’s nothing like looking for minnows in the lake, crawdads in a stream, and tadpoles in the pond. Of course, the ocean is a field trip in itself. It’s a lot of water, with a lot of force.
Another fantastic place was Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead in South Dakota. Once again, the kids were encouraged to do everything they possibly could. They washed and hung laundry, drove a small team of horses, made corn cob dolls, made a button and string toy, made hay sticks for burning, and lots of other things too.
Once again, the staff was dressed in the fashion of the time period, and they escorted us, gave speeches, demonstrations, and answered our questions.
If you want more details or information here is their website: Ingalls Homestead
Maryland’s zoo is nice. I enjoyed seeing the elephants get baths and we had the opportunity to feed the giraffes.
Just wear your comfy shoes, there’s a lot of walking!
Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln. Their faces are etched into this rock and it is a site to behold. Just the story of how it was done fascinates me. Mr. Borglum was a very smart man.
We enjoyed our trip to see the memorial. If you want more info just visit: Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
God made a wonderful thing when He made the Natural Bridge in Virginia. It is massive.
We enjoyed our trip to see it. Actually, we’ve been there twice. There is a little hike along a nice stream, the path is blacktopped, and plenty of seating for a rest stop to enjoy the water, view, and people.
At night, when it’s dark, everyone sits down on the benches and gets ready for a great show. They use different colored lights and filters to produce a light show on the bridge, while Genesis chapter 1 is being read.
There is a hotel within walking distance, and if you go on New Year’s Day, there’s no admission price, but it is very cold at that time of year, so bundle up.
For more information and details visit: Natural Bridge, Virginia
Taking the time to search on the internet, will give you plenty of options for virtual tours, recorded/live demonstrations, and live webcams.
Animal live webcams are my family’s favorite.
I’ll list a few of our favorites here.
Polar Bear Camera.
Penguin Camera (Feeding time is a great time to watch)
Orangutan Camera (This fellow likes to climb to the top of his ropes and stay out of view of the camera, but if you can catch a glimpse of him, he is entertaining.)
Flamingo Live Cam
Sea Otter Live Cam
Beluga Whale Webcam
At Perrydell Farm and Dairy, our kids were able to bottle feed the calves and take a tour of the dairy to see just how our milk gets from the cow to our table.
Afterwards we enjoyed milkshakes and ice cream cones.
I enjoy visiting aquariums. I find it peaceful, most of the time. Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg, TN has this really cool tunnel where the sharks are swimming around and over you. A moving floor keeps people moving through the tunnel. When I went through this exhibit, years ago, there was a spot in the tunnel where a shark had rammed into it. There was a slight crack there. It didn’t leak water or anything, so I guess it just didn’t go through all the layers. But that is scary. I’m glad I wasn’t there when that happened!
Ripley’s has this new opportunity for its guests. You can now sleep with the sharks while they swim all around you. That would be really neat.
For more information: Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
County and state fairs are very educational and fun for kids. Who doesn’t like looking at all the different types of rabbits, ducks, cows, and pigs?
There are usually different exhibits that give demonstrations, have competitions, and award prizes.
Usually there is a petting zoo area, and even pony rides.
Kids show off their photography, cooking, sewing, and crafting skills so they can earn an award.
We have about four different steam engine shows that take place around where we live every fall.
For those interested in steam engines and tractors this is a great place to spend some time. Usually these shows have some competitions through the week that are interesting to watch. Some even get the kids involved with a pedal tractor pull and a tractor parade that they can drive in.
If you can go to a fall festival that features apples, pumpkins, corn mazes, hay rides, slides, and other fun kid stuff, you are in for a real treat.
Summers’ fall festival in Maryland was really fun for the kids. They had a great big orange trampoline they really enjoyed; as well as a slide made from hay bales and plastic. It was a good day.
Pigeon Forge, Tennesse has a science museum too. It’s just not called a science center. It’s called Wonder Works.
I’ll never forget driving into Pigeon Forge and seeing Wonder Works for the first time. We almost got into a wreck, because from the outside, Wonder Works looks like an upside down house. It really makes you look twice.
There is a ton of exhibits. Adults can do a lot of the experiments or hands-on exhibits and ride the rides too.
It was really fun, and I’m sure we probably didn’t get to do everything and study everything out. But it’s a lot of stuff there, if you ever are in that area.
According to their website they’ve added some extra entertainment exhibits if you go “up” to the basement. An all-rope obstacle course, laser tag arena, and a 4D XD simulator ride.
You can find more details and information here at their website: Wonder Works Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Kids love train rides.
This 1880 train in South Dakota was real nice. We saw the beautiful countryside and some animals in the woods. This train is powered by steam. This company has a creative idea of having a special event on certain days. Do you want to get held up by the robbers? There’s some bad guys that stole some treasure and they’ve hidden it on the train! It sounds fun.
For more details visit 1880 train.
The Strasburg Railroad in Lancaster, Pennsylvania is also a good train to ride. Occasionally, they will have a “Day Out with Thomas”, where Thomas the Tank Engine comes to the station. That was really neat.
For more details visit Strasburg Railroad.
Homeschool Tip #2: Fun
I know that getting out of the house for a field trip is fun, but you can have fun homeschooling even if you have a regular day at home doing school.
Enjoy your time together as a family making your memories. Laugh over the funny stories your kids write, the comedy drama that is performed, the recipe that doesn’t come out right, and the science experiment that explodes or doesn’t explode!
Games make learning fun too. Anytime you can add in a competition, it helps reinforce the material.
Homeschool Tip #3: Family and Friends
Family members and friends are great assets to have around when you homeschool. You’ll want to use their talents, knowledge, occupations, and hobbies to your kids’ advantage.
Family and friends also provide encouragement. This is especially true if you have other friends or family that also homeschool.
Family and friends provide that extra incentive for your child to do their very best. When your kids know that grandma is coming to read the story they wrote, they’ll put in the extra effort to make it good.
Family history and genealogies can’t be completed without some older family members. Interviews about life experiences make history come alive from a real perspective.
Homeschool Tip #4: Focus
Homeschooling can be challenging, not just for you as the parent/teacher, but also for the children. Having multiple children of different ages in the house while you’re trying to do your school work is hard.
Here’s some focus tips that you may find helpful.
- Put in earplugs
- Run some background noise like a fan or white nois
- Use a timer to encourage your child to concentrate and get his work done before the timer goes off.
- Create a check off list of work that needs to be completed. There’s satisfaction when you get to check something off of the list.
- Try a different place or room in the house.
- Different colors of papers, pens, and highlighters may provide enough different options that your child will do his work just to be able to use these different items.
- Break up assignments into smaller tasks and then praise him for getting that completed, and then move onto the next small task.
Can you think of any other homeschooling tips that start with the letter F? If you can, just let me know in the comment section below.
I’ll list last week’s “E” posts below, just in case you missed them. They are really good.
Lego ABC’s: E is for Easy, by Our Homeschool Notebook
Encouragement for Weary Homeschool Mothers, by Every Bed of Roses
E is for Elmira Prison, by A Mom’s Quest to Teach
Discovering the “E” Rabbits of the World, by At Home Pets
E is for Edgewalk, by A Net in Time
Elgar – Composers ABC, by At Home: Where Life Happens