Homeschool Field Trips: Planning Fun Without a Magic School Bus

When I was younger, I loved the TV series “The Magic School Bus.” Ms. Frizzle would take her class all over the solar system in their magic bus; I got to learn about internal organs, what makes us sick, the characteristics of each planet, and how plants grow while watching the series. Sadly, I never had a teacher with a magic school bus to take me to all these amazing places. But I did get to go on some wonderful field trips, most of which were taken with my family outside of school hours. So much of my own learning took place outside of the classroom – I walked the Freedom Trail in Boston and learned about the revolution, marveled at the huge dinosaurs in the Museum of Natural History in New York City, learned about the currents of rivers from the daredevil exhibits in Niagara Falls. As I begin to homeschool my son, I am finding that all of these places and more are such valuable learning experiences.

Homeschool Field Trips from Facebook

After I decided I would homeschool, I joined a few local homeschooling Facebook groups. One of these groups was specifically made with the intent to get homeschooling children together for field trips. For some crazy reason, within a couple weeks of homeschooling, I decided I would try my hand at planning and organizing my own homeschool field trip to the local planetarium. I wanted my son to make friends in the local homeschooling community right away, and I got to it! While it was interesting to navigate the museum’s policies as homeschoolers versus traditional school groups going in for a field trip, it was such a neat experience for the kids. About 20 children all around my son’s age got together for this planetarium show, many of whom are local to me! That’s the size of an average class in itself! They learned about the solar system and gazed at the stars together and played together, and the whole admission as a “school” group was not very expensive nor was it cumbersome to plan.

Learning for Parents too!

Because I didn’t feel comfortable being responsible for all of those children by myself (kudos to teachers who do these field trips all the time), I got to meet many experienced homeschool parents. I was able to learn about some resources for myself as an educator; where I can get a discount on homeschool supplies and books, other field trips that were low cost or free around me, and what to put on the reports I have to submit to the school district. Everyone was supportive and helpful as I was beginning this journey, and some were newbies at homeschooling themselves!

Maybe I was not able to rent a magic bus and whisk our homeschool kids off to land on Mars themselves, but I think for my first time planning a field trip for my own son and a bunch of others, it was a success. The kids all learned something new (and I did, too; did you know Mars’ moons are shaped like potatoes?) and had a great time playing together. When we get out of the classroom/homeschool room and explore the world – or the solar system – there is so much to see and discover!

Melanie Ollett is a mom of one joyful little boy whom she adopted from foster care in 2018. She lives on Long Island with her son, dog, and two cats who all insist on sleeping in her bed more nights than she really prefers. Melanie is the solo pastor of a United Methodist church in the New York Annual Conference, and loves working back home close to where she grew up with the support of friends and family to help support her crazy schedule. 

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