Friday, June 19, 2009


We do so much of our learning away from home I think I'm going to change our label from homeschoolers to fieldtripers. Given that we spend so much time out and about I like to create mental learning plans for our excursions just to keep us engaged while we are exploring. This really helps us make the most of our field trips and it keeps my crew focused enough to stop them from running wild all around the building. I try to let the kids pick a topic to explore and I weave it throughout our trip. Yesterday the plan worked perfectly on our visit to the New England Aquarium. With minimal effort on my part the boys devised a fun learning plan on their own.

When we entered the building we saw a video of a soft shelled turtle swimming in the ocean. Shnook, my 4 year old asked, " why do you think it keeps poking it's head out of the water?"
Me- "Hmm why do you think?"

Shnook- "Maybe they are looking around."
Me- "Hmm that's one idea what else might they be doing?"
Shnook- "Getting air"
Me- "Right, you need air to breathe to stay alive."
Shnook- "Why can't they get air from the ocean, there is oxygen in the water."
Me- "Right but they don't have gills."
Shnook- "Gills help you breath under water."
Me- "Right"
Shnook- "Gills are those floppy things on the back of the fish."
Me- "Oh that's the tail, gills are the slits on the sides of their faces or heads. Let's go on a gill hunt to see what they look like."
Shnook-"Yeah let's find all the gills."
Shmeep, (my 6 year old)- "lets keep track, I bet there are more animals with gills than with no gills."

We happily explored the aquarium searching for our gilled friends. The boys touched all of the interactive exhibits and looked in all of the tanks. When they looked restless I would say, "Hmm what do you think? Gills or no gills?" this would re-energize them and they would make their predictions and then go on exploring the other exhibits. We came up with two great list and the boys were stumped by a few creatures. I was pleased that they got stumped because we could then go home and research those animals to really stretch out the lesson.

Fieldtriper Tips
1. Have a question or topic in mind to keep them engaged.
2. Let them touch everything, after all that's what it's there for.
3. Use the staff. You don't have to guess the answers to the tons of questions your children have. Step aside, allow your bunch to bombard the staff with their host of why's, how's what's and when's. Most staff members are more than happy to field all of the queries your little ones can think up.
4. Document your adventure
This way you can return to the experience again and again and possibly explore new topics.

No comments:

Post a Comment