Virtual Field Trips: Bring the Fun to Your Homeschool

Jennifer Elia

Homeschoolers know that just sitting at a desk with a textbook is not the only way to learn.
There is a special kind of learning that occurs when children get to experience a topic rather than just study it. Their eyes light up, their minds engage, and their spirits soar. Using multiple senses make lasting impressions and pique curiosity.

The age old concept of field trips meets the new virtual world to create a learning platform like never before. Homeschooling should be an adventure. Here’s an easy and affordable way to enhance it.

The Field Trip that Comes to You

Think back to third grade. If you went to brick and mortar school, you probably remember your annual field trip. Even if, it was thirty-five years ago It was the pinnacle of excitement for the year. Who says field trips can only happen once per year in your homeschool? There is so much to learn out in the world. (Oh, and you might actually socialize!) However, homeschooling can be expensive. Even when you are frugal, it usually means living on less than two full time incomes. This can make it difficult to get out and explore as much as you would like.

What if you are studying the far away lands of Africa or Australia from you Illinois schoolroom? Sure it would be great to experience these lands first hand, but where is that in the budget? And then you need passports, visas, immunizations, etc.

Virtual field trips open doors to every family in every location. Now, students in Paris can visit the Smithsonian in an afternoon. A co-op class in Massachusetts can sail around the world and still make it to baseball practice and dinner. The experience comes right to your locations with the touch of a fingertip!

Be Prepared
While virtual field trips take a lot of the prep work off of the homeschool parent, there are still preparations that must be made before embarking on one. Like the Boy Scouts say, “always be prepared.”

  • Check that all technology works properly. Flying over the Savanna is amazing but, sound would definitely improve the journey.
  • Click on every link and make sure that it is active and accurate. The Internet is always changing. The “trip” you want to take may have been created four years ago, which is aeons in the digital world. It may still be a worthwhile venture, but you want to be aware of which aspects work and which don’t.
  • Make sure all content is appropriate for your study and children. Just as there are always changes, there are pitfalls on the Internet, namely, seemingly innocent links that take you to malicious downloads or sites. Ensure that your trip will be a safe one for your technology and children by previewing all the links and content before introducing them.
  • Create a list of recommended reading and “surfing” for after the field trip. Make up a follow up activity list with books available from your collection or local library. You can also list websites with additional information, and/or apps that correlate to the subject matter presented.
  • Set the stage and the schedule before you depart. Even though there is no physical travelling involved, virtual field trips still need an itinerary and time allotment. How long will it take to complete the entire field trip and follow up activities? Are there any supplies, such as colored pencils or astronaut ice cream that would enrich the experience? Make sure that you treat this trip as you would one that requires passports. Plan well!

Optional Extras

If you have the time and resources, there are some fun extras that could really make a virtual field trip come to life.

  • Have a picnic lunch. Brown bag it on field trip day and set up a picnic area inside your schoolroom or backyard.
  • Add the local flavor and music. Are you going to a foreign land or region of the good old US of A? Consider having a tasting of local fare. Pick out recipes a couple of weeks before, and gather the ingredients. While you dine, listen to some regional or cultural music via an mp3 player, computer, or phone.
  • Set up shop! What is a highlight of every trip for kids? The gift shop, of course. Sell pencils and erasers that match the theme of the trip. Print out bookmarks or activity packets. Give each child some fake money to spend. It’s a great way to add some math to any trip.

Can’t Find What You Want? Create Your Own Virtual Field Trip!

“Pre-packaged” jaunts are great resources but no one says they are the only way to go. Create your own tailored to your needs and curriculum. With a little bit of effort and a few clicks of the mouse, you can create memories to last a lifetime.

  • Consult Pinterest for activities and photos.
  • Find a relevant video on Youtube. Please, remember to pre-screen entire video AND the suggestions that pop up at the end. Certain surprises are never welcome.
  • See if there are any related organizations, tourist bureaus, or foundations with informative sites. These may also be able to provide you with additional literature or free items for your gift shop.

Where would you take your children if even the sky weren’t the limit? Have you taken a virtual field trip? How did it go?

Post written by Jennifer Elia, of SoundFoundationsHomeschool.com.

Sound Foundations Homeschool is leading a homeschool movement – equipping moms to provide an education that celebrates her child’s unique and special gifts. Every child has special needs and even more special gifts. Sound Foundations Homeschool offers support and resources for easily building a thriving and successful homeschool that you and your child will love! From their step-by-step homeschool manual, to one-on-one mentoring, Sound Foundations Homeschool has what you need to create the homeschool of your dreams, that serves your family well, in less time, for less money, and with far less stress than you thought possible. Visit Sound Foundations Homeschool for your free copy of 10 Steps to a Successful Homeschool.

Photo by Willian West on Unsplash
Photo by Larry Li on Unsplash

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