Why should preschool teachers have all the fun when it comes to field trips? Here are some family-friendly outings that will engage children of any age, keep them learning in the classroom of life, and give parents some summertime fun outside of the house!
Very young children will be stimulated simply by all the new sights and sounds; the colorful aquarium fish can keep babies’ attention for quite a while! Teach them animal names and let them listen to any noises each animal makes. Point out the different colors of each animal you see.
Older children can be encouraged to practice reading signs with information about the animals, or to find answers to a specific question about each one, like “How much do elephants eat?” or “Why do snakes shed their skin?” Parents can also print off a scavenger hunt to occupy busy kids’ minds; kids can search the zoo for “an animal that changes colors” or “an animal that eats bugs”. (The National Zoo website provides a fantastic and simple Scavenger Hunt for children, as well as other printable zoo activities. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has a printable Scavenger Hunt for older children.)
The Ohio State University (Don Scott) Airport
This smaller scale airport has outreach programs especially designed for children, like a free tour guided by an airport employee for children 5 and older, which includes the opportunity to sit in a training aircraft cockpit! The airport gives out aircraft coloring and activity books (which are also available for download from their website). Younger children will enjoy simply watching the planes come and go.
Be sure to ask about going up in the observation tower – the New Mom Examiner’s one-year-old took a ‘field trip’ here with Grandma and Grandpa and loved watching the planes from a higher vantage point!
Fun Food Tours
Kids and parents will both enjoy a field trip with a tasty treat at the end! Al’s Delicious Popcorn on Bethel Road offers tours for families that teaches how Al’s gourmet popcorn is made and includes a sampling of some of the flavors most popular with kids, like pizza, bubblegum and jelly bean.
Just down the road, the Bethel Road branch of Graeter’s provides free tours of their ice cream production facility. Kids can step into the walk-in freezer, see how flavors are made and end their time by running around the indoor Scoops and Chutes play area filled with giant banana split teeter-totters and ice cream cone tunnels. Moms and Dads can enjoy a well-deserved ice cream treat while the kids play!
Summer Ice Skating
The Chiller Ice Rinks have public skating locations in Columbus, Dublin, Easton and Lewis Center, and are a great way for kids and parents to cool off from the scorching summer heat! Make your field trip something special by bringing out some favorite winter-time gear like cozy mittens or hats to wear on the ice.
Unfortunately, The Chiller rinks don’t offer ‘field trip’ style extras like Greenville County, South Carolina, which gives kids a tour of the facilities, interesting information on how ice is made and kept cool and even a Zamboni demonstration! However, parents can print off the Greenville program’s “How Rinks Work” sheet for older children, with fun facts about zambonis, skates and ice rinks to keep kids learning during the car ride and any down time.
Libraries, Fire Stations and Parks, Oh My!
Aside from the more unique suggestions above, the city is full of tried and true field trip destinations that preschool teachers have explored with kids for years. Parents should take advantage of these local resources for education and enjoyment as well! Library visits can be turned into a ‘field trip’ with a tour from a librarian (most children’s librarians are more than happy to oblige) and a library scavenger hunt (younger kids can search for books with certain words or pictures on the covers, while older children can search the resources for answers to questions). Fire stations often provide special demonstrations for children if you call ahead to arrange it. Kids can tour where the firemen eat and sleep, see the trucks up close, and sometimes get a fire safety lesson or an up-close look at the special gear worn in a fire. State parks have a variety of programs that could become a ‘family field trip’ outing; check out the Ohio State Parks “Park Pals” page for ideas, fun facts and activity pages all just for kids!
Share your ideas for family ‘field trips’ in the comments below and be sure to subscribe to the Columbus New Moms Examiner for more Teacher Tips articles and other new mom topics!