Looking for fresh ideas to fill the long summer days? Give yourself and your children a reason to get out of the house and learn by planning a few “field trips!” They’ll love the opportunity to spend the day doing something a little different, and you’ll be surprised by the variety of educational destinations you can easily find in your own city!
1. Capitol Buildings
Stop by your city or state capitol building to give your child a glimpse into both local history and the political process. Take time to wander the grounds (lots of state capitols make for beautiful sightseeing!), study any historical markers, and talk about the role of local government. These buildings are typically open to the public during normal business hours.
Introduce your child to the science of botany with a trip to your local arboretum. Consider a stop at the library beforehand to pick up a book about your state’s natural greenery so that you and your child can pick out a few favorite plants to be on the lookout for during your visit.
3. Recycling Centers
Go green! Help your child learn important lessons about the environment, conservation, and at-home strategies to reduce waste by visiting a local recycling center. Try a simple Google search for your nearest center—many are open to the public and offer the opportunity to observe the recycling process and view what their end products look like.
4. State or National Parks
Ken Burns’ PBS documentary series The National Parks is subtitled America’s Best Idea—and with plenty of reason! Along with the even-larger state park system, you’re no doubt near a notable outdoor or historical site brimming with educational opportunities. Both state and national parks feature a variety of programming facilitated by rangers. It’s a great way to get your child outside exploring, taking in some local history, or trying out a new activity!
5. Children’s Theaters
An outing to your local children’s theater is a great alternative to yet another visit to the movie theater. Creative stories, elaborate sets, and the pageantry of live acting will keep your child engaged—and maybe even inspire him or her to try out the stage themselves!
6. Fire Stations
Many fire departments host open houses to promote awareness and connection in the community. See what’s scheduled at your local fire station for a chance to show your child how these municipal workers handle emergencies, and you will learn important lessons about fire safety in the process!
7. Local Farms
Your child might know that food comes from a farm, but is he or she aware of just how much work it takes to get that food from seed to supermarket shelves? Check out local farms that feature learning centers or offer tours (organic farms often are particularly good for this). It’s a great way to help your child learn about the process of farming, the environmental issues involved, and the importance of fresh, healthful food.
It’s no secret that children love zoos! Make your next visit a learning experience by taking advantage of all of the educational resources zoos work to provide. Take a guided tour, make a stop in the interpretive center, or simply read through the informational placards with your child. Not only will your child learn about different animals, but he or she will also get a geography lesson on the various regions and climates those animals live in.
Want a few more ideas about how to extend your child’s learning outside the house this summer? Check out this website that allows you to search for “field trip” opportunities within your state. For other strategies to support summer learning, check out these Three Ways Parents Can Stop the Summer Slide