The Ultimate Field Trip

Postcard image with a traveling family on an ocean tripThe Ultimate Field Trip – Traveling!

Travel is the ultimate field trip! It is so educational. Traveling exposes you to new people, places, language, food, culture, and ideas. It pushes you out of your comfort zone. Travel helps us see the long view instead of our shorter, “close-to-home” view. It promotes wonder, curiosity, research and exploration if you let it!

This past week, my husband traveled to Nashville for a professional conference and our youngest and I went along for the ride. We worked and studied for part of each day and then went adventuring. One day we went to Andrew Jackson’s estate, The Hermitage. The next, the Botanical Gardens and Cheekwood Estate. The last day we met family members at the Grand Old Opry and roamed around the amazing gardens. It gave us a lot to think about.

Have Family – Will Travel

Over the past two years, we’ve had the opportunity to visit three presidential residences: Monticello, home to Thomas Jefferson; Mt. Vernon, home to George Washington; and now The Hermitage, home to Andrew Jackson.

Visiting all three presidential estates has given us the opportunity to compare and contrast Presidents; the impact each has had on the country, their attitudes towards the Union, slavery, and marriage. These inexplicably different presidents, each charted the course of this great nation.  Even affecting the way Americans live today. It’s a great history lesson! Our academic lessons are made all the more powerful by seeing where and how they each lived, ran their personal lives and interacted with others.

The Gift of Travel

Having the opportunity to travel has been a gift and one we don’t take lightly! We’ve worked to maximize travelling opportunities as they’ve come up. In the past year, we’ve taken field trips to the Black Hills in SD, St. Louis MO, South Carolina, San Antonio TX, Washington DC, Gettysburg, VA and Nashville, TN. Some of that travel was for our kids’ activities (Bible Bee participation, graduation from Army Basic) and some for work. We’ve visited Monticello, Mt. Vernon, Gettysburg, Mission Conception, State and National sea-side parks, Botanical Gardens in TX and TN, the Arch in St. Louis, Mansions and Colonial homes, the Museum of the Bible (read my review here), Lincoln Memorial and a host of other D.C. Memorials, and the Grand Old Opry. We’ve eaten the best shrimp and grits in TX, fries smothered in gouda cheese in D.C. and superb hamburgers in TN. We’ve been on the look-out for amazing opportunities and experiences and found them!

Of course, that list also represents admissions fees, gas, and other costs. We are fortunate that we are able to write off some expenses for our work. We have also traded admissions fees for blog reviews and asked for the homeschool discounts whenever appropriate. Planning ahead and discovering off-season discounts can also make family travel more affordable. We count these fees as part of our homeschool expenses because they add so much to our children’s education.

Travel is the ultimate field trip...It promotes wonder, curiosity, research and exploration if you let it! Lisa Nehring, author, and administrator at True North Homeschool Academy and Softskills 101 Podcast Show Host. Click To Tweet

Tips for Planning Amazing Family Field Trips

  • Facebook groups provide great opportunities to connect with natives who know their area. I am in a couple of homeschool travel groups and there are always a few people who just got back from where we’re going or someone who lives where we are going in the group. It’s a great way to get a current perspective and get reasonably priced ideas on amazing places to eat!
  • Google – search “Best Sightseeing” in whatever place you plan to visit. I just searched Tampa and came up with various categories: parks, sight-seeing, air-helicopter-balloon rides, shopping, eating, museums, sights, and landmarks, etc.
  • Pick up brochures at area restaurants or cruise through the Airbnb/Vrbo binder wherever you are staying.
  • Ask the locals – whenever we land in a new location, we ask waitresses and other service professionals what the “must-see” and “must-do” opportunities are in any location.

Wherever we go, we do a bit of research and gather everyone’s ideas ahead of time. Because we are all readers, we might have ideas in mind already- historical places we want to visit, or places my husband and I visited as children. We decide how much time and money we have to spend and make a tentative plan for what we want to get done. In the last several years we have often traveled for work and my husband and I have taken turns going places with the children while the other does the work-related stuff.

The World Is Our Classroom

Finding great field trips while traveling, in many ways, gets back to having a sense of what you believe about education. Do you believe that the world is your classroom? If so, you’ll make a point of being curious about the world and want to explore the nooks and crannies. Your preferences and those of your family will differ from mine. Perhaps you are real foodies and are willing to wait in line to experience the most amazing Hunan food in San Francisco, while I am more interested in the Missions along the coast. Of course, one would expect nothing less!

And when I meet you in an on-line group, or at a conference, and we compare notes, we might both broaden our horizons by doing what the other experienced and found fascinating, further enriching our lives through travel!

About the Author: Lisa Nehring hosts the podcast Soft Skills 101: Life Skills for a Digital Age, along with her husband Dr. David Nehring. She is the Director of  True North Homeschool Academy and she and her husband have homeschooled their five kids for the past 27 years. Lisa is passionately committed to resourcing and connecting fellow homeschoolers and Christians with the tools and resources necessary to navigate a complex world in need of a Savior. You can connect with her at the True North Homeschool Tribe on Facebook

Florida Keys

Florida KeysFlorida Keys –  Episode 75

Join Florida Parent Educators Association’s (FPEA) Chairwoman, Suzanne Nunn  and Sharon Rice to talk about the Florida Keys.

Do you think the Keys is just for adults? We shed light on why the Keys is the perfect family destination.  FPEA just returned from our 2nd Fun in the Sun Field trip. And what a good time we all had! There is more to do down there than we could fit in those 2 short days. So, pack up your family and head south. We have listed just a small number of the things the Keys has to offer families.

Here are some things to do in the Keys.

  • Snorkel or Dive John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park – a must!
  • The Ernest Hemingway Home in Key West
  • Truman Little White House in Key West
  • The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
  • Take photos at the Buoy.
  • Key West Aquarium
  • Theater of the Seas – Islamorada
  • The African Queen –  Key Largo
  • Everglades
  • Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center
  • Turtle Hospital – Marathon
  • Dry Tortugas
  • History of Diving Museum – Islamorada
  • Pigeon Key
  • Dolphin Research Center
  • and of course, eat Key Lime Pie! We highly recommend the Blond Giraffe Key Lime Pie Factory

 

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For the Love of Florida…Early Tourist Attractions

For the Love of Florida Early Attractions #WildFlorida #FPEA #PodcastFor the Love of Florida…Early Tourist Attractions

Podcast #65

We thought it would be fun to have a love theme for our February podcasts…..so today the topic is……FOR the LOVE of Florida!

Yes, Florida is beautiful……and I could just camp out right here. We live in a fabulous place. You know, since we’ve been doing these podcasts, one of the things that we have seen over and over again, is that some of the most popular episodes are the ones that focus on field trips or just great excursions to take around the state. So, I don’t think I’m alone in my admiration for all things Florida…the wild side, the history, the small town, the big, the famous….whatever it is….we Floridians enjoy sharing and experiencing it, apparently together.

So we’ve picked a couple of new places to explore together. With an underlying focus on the development of tourism in our state too. For you and for me it is hard to imagine a Florida that wasn’t a tourist destination. I mean now it is a challenge to find any small place in Florida that hasn’t been touched by tourism and/or the imprint of people who have vacation homes or retirement homes here. But….there was a time that Florida was a wild frontier and not heavily populated or developed….and then paradise was found. So I wanted to just share some fun facts about some of those places that began to draw visitors and vacationers in….and what those places were like then AND what they look like now.

First…..I should state what may appear to be the obvious…..but Florida was originally a destination that drew wealthy and famous people, people who could afford the time to travel and vacation here. This was, of course, before the invention of some of our common modes of transportation but one man who had discovered Florida and the virtual paradise that it is, was Henry Flagler.  Flagler loved Florida so much that he decided, in the 1880s, to begin investing in building he built railroads and hotels, and hotels along the railroads. With the expansion of the railroad systems, more people could travel to the sunshine state. By the early 1900s, thousands of tourists came to visit. Those tourists were drawn, of course, to the natural beauty, the warmth and sunshine, the salt air and a climate that would bring healing from illness and disease…..soon, there were winter homes being built by those who could afford it….and they would live here for months at a time.

The invention of the automobile opened the opportunity for more affordable travel and people continued to come.

During these years, the attractions were simply natural…..the white sand beaches, the Wild of the Everglades, the coral reefs, the Florida Keys……boating, swimming, fishing, hiking….relaxing, sunbathing…..

It wasn’t long before Flagler started investing in building Florida, that a man by the name of Hullam Jones, invented the glass bottom boat. In the bottom of a row boat, jones installed a pane of glass and charged people 5 cents a piece to ferry them above the crystal clear Silver Springs. Voila…our first tourist attraction is born. Silver Springs features one of the largest artesian springs in the world. It became famous for its glass bottom boat rides which you can still enjoy today. In 1971, Silver Springs as a National Natural Landmark. Definitely worth a visit.

So it is, we begin to move into a season of building attractions that embrace wild Florida…..the springs, the alligators and the flora….as people begin to build beautiful gardens that will become some of the most famous Florida roadside attractions.

Bok Tower Gardens is a prime example. Dedicated in 1929 in Lake Wales, it was one of Florida’s first major attractions during that era. People would drive long distances to see the gardens, the tower and to hear the tower sing. Edward Bok, editor of Ladies Home Journal, built the gardens. The tower was actually built to cover the irrigation system that would water the gardens. There is a 200 bell carillon that plays music in the gardens each afternoon. This is honestly one of the most beautiful and peaceful places.

Weeki Wachee Springs…this old Florida attraction brought international attention…..why?? Well, because of the live, underwater mermaid shows, of course……believe it or not….you can still visit the original attraction where the mermaids are still swimming along with other shows, entertainment and activities. It has now been designated a state park. Sounds like a good day of fun….right?

Cypress Gardens is one of my all time favorites. It was in Winter Haven. It was really the states first theme park (1936). It’s well known for a couple of things…..first of all, an amazing array of flowers and gardens. Girls that wore antebellum-style dresses and walked around, you know, southern belles, we called them, who would pose for pictures. Cypress Gardens was also the birthplace of performance water skiing. The man who opened it, Dick Pope, during WWII, introduced the water ski shows to entertain troops who visited the gardens. Even though tourism was a bit stifled during the war, the military played a role in continuing to bring people into Florida. Cypress Gardens basically became the water ski capitol of the world. The park closed in 2008. In 2010 the land was acquired with plans to turn it into legoland. Legoland opened in 2011.

Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg was built in 1935. The gardens are 100 years old so it is home to some of the oldest tropical plants in the region. Built in an ancient drained lake, it was the perfect place for the owner, George Turner, to enjoy his favorite pastime, gardening. The beautiful gardens he built became a real treat to his neighbors and they would spend hours strolling through them….so eventually, he began charging 5 cents for tours. So it became a destination….the family later purchased the building that is now the housing the ticket office and a children’s museum, it was previously the Coca Cola bottling company, but they purchased it to build worlds largest gift shop and a wax museum. It is a great afternoon/Saturday morning excursion, a beautiful botanical garden with several water features and flamingos.

Another neat little old Florida day trip is Winter Park. This is one of the cities that was developed as a winter resort for wealthy northerners, seeking warmth from the harsh winters. It’s just north of Orlando, so in a very over developed part of the state, but it is like stepping back in time a bit when you visit. The men who developed it did so with a great design that included residential communities and business, a large Central Park in the downtown area. Rollins college, which is still there, was built and winter park developed a bit of a reputation as an art and literary colony of sorts. It was, and still is a gorgeous area, surrounded by several lakes and of course, citrus. It was a little slice of paradise. There were beautiful homes built on the lakes and the lakes are connected by little canal systems. Hence one of the oldest attractions, the winter park scenic boat tour…. opened in the 1930s and is still operating today. Also, a throw back to that art colony, we always visit the Morse Museum of American Art which houses the worlds largest collection of Tiffany glass, plus other beautiful art.

Another great excursions farther south that had some early tourist beginnings are the Theatre of the Sea (1946) which is in the Keys….Islamorada to be exact. It is a marine mammal park with dolphins, sea lions, sea turtles, tropical gardens and birds. It’s family owned, beautiful to explore. Plan on visiting it this summer if you and your family decide to join us for our FPEA fun in the sun Florida Keys trip.

Miami Seaquarium…built in the height of the 1950s when families were hitting the road and enjoying these attractions. At the time, it was the worlds largest marine life attraction and quite popular. Then in the 1960s it actually became one of the primary locations where they filmed the TV show Flipper.  The Seaquarium is still a fully functioning park with great options for wildlife experiences. It’s a neat experience and they still play with those bottle nose dolphins.

So there you have it……for the love of Florida….get out there and enjoy some of these places with your family.  Let’s keep them on the map for the generations to come because they truly are a tribute to establishing Florida as the tourist destination that we see today with the more recent theme parks.

FPEA is your source for all of your Florida homeschooling needs. You can check out our website, www.fpea.com for exciting opportunities and valuable resources. Also, you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram for other great tidbits and resources that are sure to help you as you create your customized homeschool journey.

 

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HSHSP Ep 130: Field Trips for Homeschool High Schoolers

They never outgrow field trips!

HSHSP Ep 130: Field Trips for Homeschool High Schoolers

This week on HSHSP Ep 130: Field Trips for Homeschool High Schoolers.

HSHSP Ep 130_ Field Trips for Homeschool High Schoolers #Homeschool Highschool Podcast #FieldTrips #FieldTripsForTeens This photo shows a group of multi-ethnic teens walking on a field trip.

HSHSP Ep 130: Field Trips for Homeschool High Schoolers

When you have homeschooling highschoolers, they are BUSY! Academics and extracurriculars fill their schedules while they build their powerful transcripts. It’s easy to forget field trips when homeschoolers hit the high school academics.

Don’t miss out!

Sabrina and Kym share about favorite field trips with their teens as well as the trips that didn’t happen, but they wish they had. (Check this post about a favorite field trip fail.)

Here are the most basic homeschool field trips for teens:

  • Science based
    • Botanical gardens
    • Wastewater treatment facilities
    • Dams
    • Zoos
    • Aquariums
    • Museums
    • Ranger-led events at state or national parks
    • Visits to blood bank
    • Nature hikes
    • Amusement part
  • History based
    • Architectural tours of historic towns
    • Historic town special events
    • Docent led tours of historic homes
    • Guide-led tours of national or state historic sites
    • Attend a re-enactment
    • Restaurants with food from a country your family is studying
  • Arts
    • Concerts
    • Plays
    • Museums
    • Arts and Crafts shows
  • Career Exploration
    • Visits to construction sites
    • Visits to small businesses
    • Visits to chiropractor or other medical professional
    • Visits to recording studio
    • Interviews with folks at church who have interesting careers
    • Visit to sports-team’s facility
    • Attend a career fair
    • Volunteer work and interview staff
    • College tours

Here are some tips:

  • Come prepared with questions for docents or guides. Talk about potential questions ahead of time.
  • Have teens write a response paper, essay or create a Powerpoint or Prezi about the trip. (Then present it at co-op or family gathering.)
  • Use field trips to level up courses or earn a special course credit. Check out this post on how to log hours for credit.
  • Remember, don’t KILL the field trip by overdoing the academic part!
  • Many field trips can be turned in some way into Career Exploration.

Here are even more field trip ideas.

Join Sabrina and Kym for this inspirational chat. Also, check out this post:

 

Why Waste High School Credits on Career Exploration?

 

HSHSP Ep 130: Field Trips for Homeschool High Schoolers