It’s that time of year again when the weather is just right and there is so much nature to take in! School is in full swing and for those of us homeschoolers out here, we want to get out and have fun while learning something too. Here are some fresh ideas for your brood.
5. Dairy Farms (or any working farms)
We live close to Indiana and so we recently went over the border to a real working dairy and pig farm and what an experience it was! We saw two baby cows born in the birthing barn, got to watch the cows being milked, and then we got to go see tons of newborn baby pigs! It was exactly like walking into an episode of Mister Rogers. It was a day none of us will ever forget. Look into the working farms near you that give tours. Each farm has something different to teach and offer. What we learned during our time was where our milk comes from and how people care for the animals we depend on for food. It was a wonderful trip and, contrary to all the anti-carnivore propaganda out there, we saw humane, loving caregivers, beautiful and sanitary conditions, and it left us feeling good about where our food comes from.
4. Underground Railroad Experiences
All around the country, usually in the fall, villages or towns will put on Underground Railroad experiences, where kids can learn about the horrors of slavery and the struggles that slaves went through to escape to the North through a complicated chain of safe houses. We learned so much when we did this at a nearby park that I think it should be required for every American student. Not only did we learn about the fear and terror of what it was like to be hunted, but we learned about the art of quilt making and the secret messages that were woven into the quilts to warn the escaping slaves of danger ahead or tell them where to hide. We will never forget it. On our tour, each child was given the name of a real slave and at the end of our trip we were told the fate of that person. You can read about what slaves went through all day long, but once you’ve hidden in a cold cellar in the pitch black with barking dogs coming closer, the stories are never just stories again.
3. Food Field Trips!
Check with your local parks to see if they offer any kind of fall food field trips. One park near us offers a pancake breakfast, where they show you how they make maple syrup! The children get to watch the process of how the trees are tapped and see the sap coming out and then are taken through the steps to get their favorite breakfast topping ready to eat. The experience ends with a beautiful pancake breakfast with fresh maple syrup! Another food field trip is to visit a creamery! Many local farms offer tours through their ice cream making process and will let you bring a group through for a small fee. It’s always a great time to watch our favorite foods being made and then get to enjoy them afterward!
2. The Pumpkin Patch
This is a fall favorite, of course. Every town or village has a local pumpkin patch and each has different things to offer. I like searching out ones we haven’t been to before. The last one we visited had a beautiful petting zoo where baby cows were ready to be cuddled and large tractors were available for climbing. These days you don’t even have to be in the market for a pumpkin to enjoy a hay ride, pony rides, giant corn pits and climbing stacks. And while the learning might be on the low side, the fun never stops.
1. The Renaissance Festival
You have to catch these before they close up for winter, but if you’re studying medieval history this year, it’s a must have experience! Where else can you find jousting, real knights and ladies, kings and queens and jesters all performing for your delight? All the people who work at the fair stay in character all the time so you can ask them about their lives and they will tell you what it was like during the medieval period. There are so many fun things to learn and do at the fair. There are costumes to study and rent, sword fighting, daisy chain making, medieval carnival rides that work with elaborate pulleys and gears, and some of the best people-watching you ever saw!
Where are some of your favorite field trips? Let us know!