Thursday, November 19, 2015

Making the Most of Museum Field Trips

We love field trips and most of our favorite field trips are those that bring us to science museum or even kids museums.  They usually have so many wonderful and fun hands on lessons for the boys.

We've been to many museums over the years and we've learned a thing or two along the way.  



Many of these things may seem counter intuitive to what we were taught in school but you know I'm all about breaking through those school/ traditional learning modes anyway!

  1. DO NOT give out worksheets with questions for the kids to answer; let them ask the questions and find their own answers (or work with them to find answers).  Museums are meant for hands on exploration and filling in worksheets takes away from that. 
  2. Let the children lead.  We tend to repeat many of our field trips mainly because the boys seem to focus on different aspects of each museum every time we go.   It's like a new trip each time!  Sure my kids were disappointed when it was time to go and they realized they spent 75% of our day building with Keva blocks and missed a few other favorite parts of the museum but I assured them we'd go back again another day.  I used to push them through each area and not allow them to get as involved for fear that we'd miss something else.  
  3. Allow children to engage the museum staff with questions, thoughts and observations.  They learn so much more by interacting with people about their jobs.  Chances are the museum workers are passionate about where they work and are eager to share that passion.  My kids have learned so much simply because they never stopped asking questions! 
  4. Let them get their hands on as much as they can.  Kids learn through exploration and play so let them play and explore.  Often I sit back and just watch; sometimes I'll get right in beside them and play with them. 
  5. Allow children to interact with other children.  Going to museum mid-week usually means that they are pretty empty.  Today, we went with friends and my kids all played together pretty well today but they also spoke to other children we had never met before, showing them what they were building and working cooperatively together.  
  6. Talk about the highs and lows of the trip with them.  Usually on the way home we talk about our favorite parts of each trip, what we wish would have been different, which parts were most interesting and why, which parts we thought were a bit boring and how it could have been made more exciting.  We usually have enough to talk about for upwards of an hour!  Plus it gives me a good chance to see all that learned.  
  7. If possible allow kids to wander a bit on their own.  Today it really did seem like we were the only ones at the museum for a good portion of the day and since this particular museum had a very open floor plan the kids were able to wander as their attention warranted it.  It allowed them to revisit areas that particularly interested them without having to worry about convincing the whole group to follow along. 
  8. Follow up at home afterwards.  If there's a particular topic that interests one of my boys while we are visiting a museum I often look for books on that topic when we get home.  I order books, movies, or (if they aren't too expensive) toys for them to continue learning where they left off; if they so desire.  
  9. Find ways to tie your current curriculum into your field trip.  We headed to the museum mainly just to get out of the house and have a fun hands on learning day.  However, when I visited the museum's site and saw that they were playing the planetarium movie The Unseen World it reminded me so much of our microscope lessons/ discussion the other day that I knew I had to pay the few extra dollars for us to see it.  It was by far the most talked about thing from our trip today! 
  10. Learn alongside your children.  I find if there's something that particularly interests me at a museum and I take the time to read about it, play with it, explore it; the boys often wander over and get involved too.  Excitement is contagious!  Get excited.  

The boys had a great time watching all the animals and building with blocks (and meeting the museum coordinator's challenge of building a bridge that was high enough for an animal to go under and yet enable a car to cross).

We checked out the new exhibit on movement and music.  The boys were thrilled with the pendulum drawings.

We sat through a planetarium show called The Unseen World-- it was amazing!  The movie showed us all the things we can't see with the naked eye like infrared light, sound waves, microscopic organisms, and things that are too slow (grass growing) or too fast for our eyes to see (like the beating of a dragonfly's wings).

 It was a wonderful day of hands on science fun.

playing with the otter 

Making music



Watching the turtle eat lunch

Starting his building 

Learning about today's building challenge 

Alec helped make a super tall tower 

Evan got to work on his bridge 

Tested it out to make sure a car could drive over it 

And beat the challenge by adding three animals! 

Ian would happily have finished the other side of this bridge
but we ran out of time; a tall animal under the bridge makes for a
tall bridge with a very long ramp! 

Exploring the effects of different wheels and angles
on speed of cars 

Trying out the pendulum drawings 

He really wanted to make an atomic symbol 

Evan took a turn next and found that he could make multiple designs by
 moving the pen as it was drawing 


Ian ended the day with a super tall tower too 


Poster for the movie we went to see 

watching the skunks

Porcupine eating a snack 

Museum all lit up at night 
Linking up with: Natural Homeschool 
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2 comments :

  1. What a great trip! You must live in a good area. We live in a rural area, and the closest science museum is at least 3 hours away! I like tip #2. I am usually one to try to fit everything in in one day. That's not always the best way, though!

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    1. We sort of have the best of all worlds. We live in a rural, small town, but within an hours drive we can reach Providence, Boston, and Hartford. Within an hour we can also be in the mountains or at the beach too! It's wonderful... as long as you don't mind driving a bit.

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