Fast, Frugal Field Trips for Early Learners

by Susan Franklin

While studying horses this past spring we visited a saddle shop. Our custom saddle craftsman happened to be a grandfather with a sign in the yard that read, “Warning: Grandchildren Spoiled Rotten Here.” What started as a “shot in the dark” while perusing the yellow pages, turned out to become a memorable event. Even my toddler felt right at home when she found toys and remnants of our host’s grandchildren throughout the shop. While we learned about how saddles are made, we also made a friend and, as a bonus, met a few horses and geese.

Getting out into the community gives us glimpses into others’ worlds that we could not comprehend from just reading about them. Meeting real people in their workplaces expands our horizons and gives us the human contact we would lack if we stayed at home too much.

But packing lunches and planning long car trips with preschoolers is not my idea of time well spent, at least not every week. So we have found local points of interest to be perfect for field trips. It makes it more special when we have friends who can join us for these events, but sometimes we just stop at a place that we are interested in and ask a few questions and look around.

Places we have enjoyed this year include the zoo, a local dairy museum, the animal shelter, airports, a fire station, a shop that creates blueprints for houses, a custom saddle shop, and a horse ranch. Coming soon are a trip to the post office and a longer trip to a farm (set up specifically for children to visit and explore) that was organized by the high school homeschoolers of our local support group.

We try to bring a small thank-you gift to the host or send a thank-you note or gift afterward as a matter of courtesy.

Here are a few more ideas for fast and frugal field trips to try:

Florist shop
Local restaurant kitchen (during off peak hours)
Train station
Bus station
Radio or TV station
Historical sites
Dairy farm
Tractor dealership
Car dealership
Music store
Historical society
Newspaper office
Veterinarian’s office
Dentist’s office
Hearing Aid Center
Forest Ranger Station
Scientist’s laboratory
Fish hatchery
Sewage treatment plant

Occasionally using routine trips to grocery store, mall or discount store can be made into a field trip if you stop and look at everything as an opportunity to teach your children.

For children who have learned basic math, you can teach about frugal living by bringing your calculator and comparing prices using cost per unit analysis.

Give a lesson in “sticker shock” by giving a child $20 to buy clothes. Stop by a thrift store or two and then check out a discount store or mall for a real eye opener.

The possibilities are endless if we look at the world right around us through our children’s eyes and help them to understand it better through ours.

Copyright (c) 2000 Susan Franklin
All Rights Reserved

Susan Franklin is a mom of two beautiful children and wife to one wonderful husband. She enjoys cooking, reading, sewing, writing, and exploring the world and learning with her children. You can find more of her writing at Picket Fence Play House or subscribe to her bi-weekly newsletter for moms of young learners at .