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Valuable field trips for High School?

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Could you share some trips or activities you have done as a group with Jr/Sr High that have been worthwhile. I am already tentatively planning the Symphony, Shakespeare, an art museum tour/class, and a trip to the metropark. I'd love to have some other ideas, back-up ideas, and maybe better ideas...


Short of a bus trip to D.C (which dh and I are working on,) what have you found worth the time?

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We just had a great family field trip to NYC. Words can't describe how wonderful the experience was for all of us, especially the kids. We took our older 2 kiddos.


Here's my thread from the general board which tells what we did/where we went during the most amazing 6 days EVER!




I'm already planning our Boston/DC/Virginia trip for next year.

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Traveling to foreign countries was probably the most educational. That probably isn't what you had in mind, though.


We went to DC. The Smithsonian was great.

We drove around the country visiting national parks. Great.

We went to Europe. Obviously great GRIN.

One of my sons went to Japan. Again, obviously great.

And we went to Quebec. If you can't afford to go to Europe, go to the city of Quebec. We learned some history, ate some pasteries, and spoke some French. French was the reason we went in the first place. It is a long drive, but we can drive there. Very high on learning/time.


Other good field trips have been:

Learning to use an airport, ferry, train, and metro.

Having someone tell us what he had to learn to get his pilot's license (he sat down and went through his textbook with us) and then take us up in his plane.

Watching adults do their jobs. This was very valuable. They've watched people build houses, boats, weld things, do plumbing, clam, do research, pilot commercial airplanes (before 9-11 sigh), invent things, ... My older one even went to a cadavre lab with some engineers and helped a friend with his oyster farm.

Nature preserves. These often have good programs. We use our local Audubon sanctuary.

National parks. We've been mountain climbing, rock climbing, spelunking, and seen various history and nature programs.

HIstorical sites like Plimoth (probably learned the least at these).

Science museum.



Boating and camping.

Town meeting and the state house.

The UN.

Plays and concerts and informal music-making. The less formal stuff has been good because it was more hands-on. We've tried harps, organs, and washtub basses, among other things, and heard lots of good music and stories.

Contra dances. When my children read the description of the dance in Dicken's Christmas Carol it was completely familiar. I think they learned more history at our local contra dance than they did when they visited Lexington and Concord.

Story telling.

The local historical museum. They learned more than at the national historical sites.

Various religious ceremonies. They went to a Buddhist temple for Buddha's birthday, and have participated in various Native American ceremonies, as well as various Christian ones from other denominations.

Buying a car.



Edited by Nan in Mass
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The teens in our co-op have enjoyed our local Renaissance Festival for the last two years. We go on home school day because it's tamer. Many dress up which really adds to the experience. Dd is currently looking forward to the next one ... in October :001_smile:

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I forgot about that. We did this, too, both medieval and renaissance. There was a play woven through the day, lots of music, several magic shows, games, booths where craftsmen happily explained how to make a real sword, or chain mail, or a bow, or weaving/spinning, etc., juggling, and almost everybody was dressed in costume.

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These were of more educational value than visiting historical sites (exept the ones where they have people living in a town and going through daily life). Once when we were sailing, we got stuck in Castine, Maine avoiding the big seas from a hurricane out to sea. We entertained the children by taking them to the tiny but excellent natural history museum, a sort of museum with superior learning opportunities. They watched videos of people chipping stone arrow heads, learned to play a pump organ, studied lots of maps, learned about the local Native Americans, and also learned some things about our local birds and animals. While we were there, the town was invaded by Red Coats and Yankees. They set up camps and snuck around town shooting at each other. We visited the camps and the children learned how to make a fire with flint and steel, cook over a campfire, set up a canvas tent, how the armies were organized, and a number of other historical things.


We also toured the maritime academy's training ship. Boat tours have been another good learning experience. We toured a WW2 submarine and got to ask questions from a man who had been to war in it. We also saw a WW2 airplane and talked with a man who had flown in one like it. He happened to be visiting too, and when he heard my children wondering how scary it had been, he volunteered all sorts of information.


Ok - perhaps historical sites haven't been very valuable, but we have learned quite a lot from historical objects and events. One of the more informative sites we went to was Statton Island, but it would have been even better if we had gone with some names to look up.


I also would like to suggest tours. They are very expensive, but they are usually very informative. And harbour tours are just plain fun.



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There are many good ideas already mentioned that I won't repeat (National Parks, local cuisine and museums, etc). I will, however, add that visiting major Civil War battlefields like Gettysburg and Antietam was VERY meaningful to my Jr. and Sr. High aged boys. Younger than that and they don't really "get it." Gettysburg is the best of the ones we've been to so far. They have a brand new Visitor's Center and a 2 or 3 hour car tour with a CD audio guide that is superb... We like the 3 hour version, but it takes us more than 3 hours with stopping to get out, explore and reflect.

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one plug for lodging...we stayed at the Harrington Hotel. It is on 11th Ave., right down from the old Post Office (which has a great food court). It is an old hotel with marble staircases, and some of the rooms sleep 5-6, which is nice for larger families. it is very affordable, for where it is. We had a great time staying there. Easily within walking distance of everything at the Mall.


Also, one interesting thing we did this year for my high school ds...he read some of Poe's works with SL, so, since we live in Richmond, we went to see an acotr perform some of Poe's works, plus we visited the Poe museum....it is in the oldest house in the city and was very well done.


Look at what you are reading this year and see if there are any of those works being done in your area as plays...oh, we also went to see The Chosen done by the local Jewish community theater....very very good. It really adds to the lit program to see what you are reading as a play.


just a few more ideas!

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Angela, this is sort of the back way of getting there, but have you thought of bargains and how you travel? Ding, this thing you download for bargains from Southwest Airlines, is the utter greatest thing ever! It has totally expanded our horizons, because they're forever running great deals to somewhere, anywhere, nowhere. If you're spontaneous and can afford $49 a person each way, you can usually blast off to someplace. You have to buy that day but usually have a ticket window of travel for a couple months. I had been dreaming of going to New Mexico and found tickets within a week or two of watching. Not that I got to go, but we can dream, eh?


That's how we did our Oregon trip, with $29 tickets each way (was it $29? something dirt cheap like that), and it was FABULOUS. I say any time you travel you're expanding their horizons. See you're trying to think about WHY you're traveling and doing things. Culture is good (Shakespeare, etc.). But even more importantly, I just want dd to know the world is big and that she's not limited to just what she sees. Sometimes people get stuck and don't realize they have more options, more possibilities.


Well there's a ramble for you. Try Ding. And on DC, is the bus trip a great thing? Are you just sending a dc? I much prefer traveling on my own and exploring, following my own itinerary, but that's me. I'm a Fodor Guidebook buff and use them extensively when I plan my trips. I always pick out the restaurants ahead and everything. Takes time, but it makes the trips immensely more fun and personally interesting. That way we can balance out what I like (science, beauty, food, not necessarily in that order ;) ) with what they like (history, animals). I thought about doing DC in a month when dh goes for a business trip, but I'm not sure I'm up for that. I don't know. I've been tired and headachy lately, not bouncing back from Cincy very well.

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By the time we could afford to travel, our oldest was old enough to stay home. We let him. As Elizabeth said, he got stuck. He was unhappy, but couldn't see how big the world was and how many options it contains. He is looking around now and discovering many more possibilities, but if I could do it again, I would insist he come with us, even at the expense of friends or job. If you can afford it, travel is an easy way to avoid this problem. (Adult-type hobbies are good, too. I think books are a cheap way to travel. I would worry less about including travel if a child had many hobbies or was a book worm.)


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SInce you're in MI, Greenfield Village, Chicago's museums & galleries, Mammoth Cave in KY, come to mind 1st. Here's a link to Michigan History Online that may give you some ideas too. Happy hunting!


I have to follow-up.


We were just at Greenfield Village recently, and I was struck again by how different it is than most historical sites. Each house or building seems to have an interpreter that LOVES what they are talking about. We had a man in the Edison home last time that I really, truly believe thought he was Thomas Edison. :D We saw a man re-enact the life of Mr. McCoy ("The Real McCoy") in a 20 minute show. The man in the Wright Bros. home was SO excited that we wanted to know all about their education. We have stayed for hours in one of the craftsman shops, and they will happily tell you everything they know. In the historic homes, they grow heirloom seeds and cook authentic recipes from the produce.


If anyone ever gets a chance to go, it is one of the best educational sites around.


We did Mammoth Caves, but we plan to go back when all of our dc are old enough to do the really long explorations. Chicago is a good idea!

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And on DC, is the bus trip a great thing? Are you just sending a dc? I much prefer traveling on my own and exploring, following my own itinerary, but that's me. I'm a Fodor Guidebook buff and use them extensively when I plan my trips. I always pick out the restaurants ahead and everything. Takes time, but it makes the trips immensely more fun and personally interesting. That way we can balance out what I like (science, beauty, food, not necessarily in that order ;) ) with what they like (history, animals). I thought about doing DC in a month when dh goes for a business trip, but I'm not sure I'm up for that. I don't know. I've been tired and headachy lately, not bouncing back from Cincy very well.


We are hoping for a bus trip for whole families. We want that one to be easy and painless, so we can just spend the time with dc and not have to plan and figure out what to do. Dh and I both loved our HS DC trips.


Any major travel will be done as a family. I am looking more for things that can be done as a group of teens somewhat locally.

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A couple of things my older kids have done: traveled abroad- can be pretty inexpensive with a group. TeenPact events, including D.C. Trips to the state capital (very easy to make the day fun and educational). Wycliff has a Jungle Challenge camp near Chicago that you your group to and it looks terrrific.

My dd taught a class of Jr. Highers and they spent an hour on the phone once a week interveiwing people from other countries. They loved it.

Mock trial with a real lawyer- then go see a jury selection, or trial.

Camping/ rock climbing/geo-caching. On-going scavenger or "where's waldo" event.

Check out natural history sites. In NM it's the Clovis Man site, lave beds, etc. In L.A., Brea Tar Pits, In IN, the Indian Mounds and in SD Rushmore.

Leadership Instute runs boot camps around the country - I just took a vanful and we all stayed in a really NICE hotel, free food, lots of learning.

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Our group is more weighted toward jr. high than sr. high homeschool students, so many of our field trips are still just fun outings and exposure to the arts, history or science. Events that went over very well last year with our big homeschool group:


- student matinee shows of the local opera and theater companies

- Renaissance Festival

- planetarium showing

- observatory tour

- county or state fair

(you can go as just a field trip, but even better is to do a group project to enter and have judged)


- glassblowing studio

($4/person, to watch creation of variety glass items; for $45/person we could have each participated and actually blown a small Christmas tree ornament with the help of the artists)


- air museum (tour of the museum, but also a special "Mission to Mars" problem solving activity in which half the students are ground crew and half are in the space shuttle and have to successfully run a mission, with unexpected problems cropping up)



Also, we've done really great field trips at different departments of the University in our town; this year the aerospace/mechanical engineering tour was a huge hit. Next year we're considering a tour of optical sciences or maybe the physics department.


Each year we also have a sort of "careers-day-plus" event for the jr/sr high students and their parents, in which we invite speakers from a wide variety of career fields, groups/organizations, and colleges to come and speak throughout the day -- usually 3 speakers to choose from in each 40-minute timeslot, with 3 timeslots each in the morning and the afternoon, plus a morning and an afternoon keynote speaker who address all the attendees -- and lunch and a snack is included in the price. That's been a fantastic way to expose the jr/sr high students to not only career fields, but groups and organizations they could join even now.


In past seminars, we've had everything from a forensics autopsy doctor to a graphic designer; an architect to an astronomer; actors to physical therapists; artists and authors to an engineers; and demonstrations from a chef, a martial arts expert, an K-9 team, Medieval history recreators, computer manipulated images. We've had lots of groups represented as well: 4-H, Youth & Government, Toastmasters, Christian Youth Theater, Worldview Academy, Handi-dogs, Search & Rescue, etc. And usually one "track" of speakers throughout the day focuses on college/career topics for the parents and the older students, and usually includes college reps and information about scholarships, financial aid, internships, picking a career, etc.



Printing off everyone else's great ideas! Warmest regards, Lori D.

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A lot of our field trips are in the form of camping with the family, places like the Oregon coast or Crater Lake, and lesser known spots. There are some fantastic places within minutes of where we live.


When we travel, several times a year, we try to go to different museums and zoos. Since we have multiple ages we try to do something that everyone can enjoy - yes, even the older ones still love zoos and other animal parks (the kind with more exotic animals).


We also try to go to plays and concerts when possible, usually during our travels. This year and from here on we will try to attend some Shakespeare productions.


We find ourselves in Michigan and Arizona to visit grandparents, and there are usually many things going on. I have yet to take a trip with the kids to a remote location just to go to an event -- it has always been an offshoot of visiting family somewhere. My big regret was that we actually lived in Virginia and never made it up to D.C. to see the museums -- I was either pregnant or with newborn the entire time and my dh was working approx 80-100 hours per week in a medical residency with very little vacation (one day off every couple of weeks). So I am longing to go back there and catch up now that the kids are older.

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