Have you noticed how inquisitive and interested most children become when you take them on an educational outing compared to sitting inside a classroom reading a textbook? Little children, especially in the 3-8 years age group, are highly perceptive to new information and experiences and soak up all that their surroundings throw at them – listening, feeling, smelling, touching and seeing.
Going on a field trip can be an enriching experience for children and even research has shown that field trips can have a positive effect on school kids. A study on ‘Benefits of Field Trips’ conducted by Jay P. Greene and his associates at the University of Arkansas found that students recall factual information with precision and detail when they go on a field trip, while also showing qualities of critical thinking and tolerance to different views.
So, if you want to broaden the horizons of your little ones, here are some cool ideas for conducting field trips --
1. Planetarium – Remember the childhood days when we would gaze up at the night sky inside the planetarium and wonder at the beautiful celestial bodies? Astronomy aficionados will cherish the star-gazing experience and will come up learning a lot about the solar system and galaxies. Taking your child to a planetarium can also be an eye-opening experience for her, as she will realise that the world she lives in is part of a bigger system.
2. Candy factory – Who doesn’t love candy? Even though we may stop our children from gorging on candies and toffees, all childhood memories are replete with these bright and colourful sweet treats. Kids love being engaged in the process of making something, that is why going to a chocolate or candy factory will get them excited about preparing something from scratch. Making a food item also involves many complex processes and a lot of science. So, there is lot of learning to be done at such a place.
3. Grocery store – As a parent, you may think this is too simplistic, considering that your children would accompany you to a grocery store or supermarket quite often. But there is lots to imbibe through this field trip, especially for preschoolers. A trip to the grocery store helps children develop their language and learn new vocabulary, learn math and money concepts (through list making and finding out prices of the items), improve their social skills because of human interaction, become aware of healthy eating ideas and much more. Children also develop a positive attitude towards food through this outing.
4. Fire Station – One of the biggest attractions that preschoolers have a fascination for is the big red vehicle with flashing lights, that has a bell and a ladder. Fire stations are a storehouse of information and kids are usually quite excited to visit one. Apart from checking out the trucks, and getting their photos clicked while sitting in the driver’s seat, children also learn how to escape a fire incident and use the fire extinguisher. This field trip gives them an opportunity to interact with real firefighters and learn about their heroic acts. This will help them to develop a sense of service and teamwork early in life.
5. Wildlife Sanctuary – Children in cities rarely get the chance to interact with the animal habitats and find out how important every living being is in the ecological system. A visit to the wildlife sanctuary will leave little children awestruck as they encounter various animals living in their natural habitat. The benefits of this exercise can be many -- children learn new vocabulary, they get to know names of rare birds and animals species, they can connect with the verdant surroundings and learn to appreciate beings which are not like themselves. A nature walk inside a sanctuary gives them an insight into exotic plant species and how some medicinal plants are helpful for humans.
6. Science/Natural History Museum – A field trip to a science museum can be exciting and encourages lateral thinking among children. There are so many bright and beautiful things in a science or natural history museum that it piques a child’s curiosity. They learn to ask questions, develop language skills, encourages them to be creative and think out-of-the-box.
7. Farm – Most of us love the serenity and spaciousness of a farm. Preschoolers who are used to the city life and see their parents buying food and groceries from a supermarket, may not know where the food they eat actually comes from. They would not have experienced the fresh smell of mud coming from cultivated land or the joy of picking vegetables and fruits and eating them fresh. A farm visit can be a great bonding exercise for a family, while teaching children the importance of food.
So, the next time you make a plan to visit the mall in the weekend, think again. Why not a visit to the planetarium to keep a date with the stars, instead? Or a field trip to a wildlife sanctuary to meet exotic species? Remember, this will ensure you are bringing up creative thinkers and life-long learners.