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Planning Incredible History Field Trips

  • October 7, 2016
  • By Donielle
  • 0 Comments

There is reading about a place, then there is actually going there.  Field trips make history come alive!  Think back to those times when you have thought about the sacrifices American soldiers have made for your freedom, versus the visual reminders of a memorial etched with names or the precise rows of crosses at Arlington National Cemetery.  Which makes a bigger impact?  For me, it is the visual reminder.  A kid can read about history and will forget much of it.  If you show a kid history, it will

Look for an opportunity to visit a place that corresponds to the era of history you are studying.

Look for an opportunity to visit a place that corresponds to the era of history you are studying.

capture her imagination and stay with her.

There are a few things you can do to enhance a history field trip.  If you are going to invest time and money to travel and make history come alive, you want to get as much out of your investment as possible.  Here are my tips to make it worth your while:

  1. Read about your destination before you go.  Learning is enhanced by interest – being familiar with the topic beforehand gives your student the best chance to fully engage in the educational experience.  We usually start at the library, by checking out books on our destination several weeks before we go.  We check it out on the map.  We pick out attractions we would like to visit.  We let the anticipation of vacation or new experiences fuel the passion for our historical adventure.  I look for books set in that location or era:  Cricket in Times Square for New York City or Pop’s Bridge for San Francisco.
  2. Engage as many of the senses as possible.  The more senses learning
    Eat what the locals eat and wear what they wear to be immersed in a learning experience.

    Eat what the locals eat and wear what they wear to be immersed in a learning experience.

    involves, the better recall will be and more learning styles will be engaged.  If you see it, taste it, smell it, feel it, and hear it, you will not soon forget it.  Look for opportunities to touch artifacts.  If there is an opportunity to try food of another culture or era, go for it!  If you can hear and smell the animals, listen to period music or theater and wear the garb of by-gone eras, jump on the opportunity.  My girls put together colonial costumes for Williamsburg and really enjoyed the costumed guides treating them like colonial residents.  Sometimes vacation is a synonym for food for this family, so we have no problem hunting down authentic cuisine.  An app like Yelp can be a big help in an unfamiliar area.

  3. Make souvenirs a part of the learning experience.  No one needs cheap junk laying around.  Invest in an interesting book from the gift shop.  Splurge on a hat that your little one is eyeing, if it is one that will encourage role-playing games that reinforce what was learned on the trip.  Replica documents, coins, arrowheads and ammunition are good for
    Let each family member pick out an attraction or activity of interest at your destination.

    Let each family member pick out an attraction or activity of interest at your destination.

    making learning practical.  Think age appropriate and consider what your child’s interests are.  And if they really want to spend their own money on glittery objects with no other correlation to your destination, other than the name stamped in pink glitter *sigh* let it go.  My favorite purchase was the wooden “homatawk” my then five year old wanted at Jamestown.  It built many Indian encampments in our yard before it fell apart last year.

  4. Scrapbook together afterward.  Nothing shows you what your kids enjoyed and remember more than, a few months down the road, putting together scrapbook pages of the event.  They often give me little details that I can’t remember, because they were so interested in some small thing they saw.  I give them some rectangles of lined scrapbook paper and let them write about their experience.  On occasion I have put together a booklet with pockets to collect brochures for journaling on a long road

    Don’t make your touring days too long; leave time for rest, discussion, and reflection.

    trip.  They look back and crack up at what impressed their small selves: playgrounds, pancakes and toy stores are all worthy of journal entries.

Do you have other great tips?  Leave them in the comments for our awesome readers!  I have some great trips with specific activities lined up for you to explore in future posts.  I hope you enjoy and get out there and bring history to life!

By Donielle, October 7, 2016
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