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When cold weather strikes, all I want to do is stay snuggled up in the house. However, that’s not always possible nor is it the best plan for the three months leading up to spring. Instead of hibernating in your house all winter, try these ideas for fun winter field trips!
Even if refusing to step foot outside your house until spring were plausible, it would also be a sure-fire recipe for cabin fever. Stir-crazy kids are not good for a mama’s sanity, y’all! Plus, fresh air and sunshine are the best way to beat the winter blues whether you’re simply tired of being confined or you have a true case of seasonal affective disorder. Even if that fresh air is a bit frigid.
This winter, more than ever, you may find that you and your kids need a change of pace. So, put those school books aside and try some of these ideas for fun winter field trips!
A trip to the zoo may not be your first thought when it comes to winter field trips – because brrrr! However, it only took one particular visit that turned out to be cooler than we’d anticipated to realize that we may not like the chilly temperatures, but many of the animals do! They’re often much more active in colder weather.
I wouldn’t suggest going when the temperatures are frigid, but a moderate winter day field trip to the zoo can be a fantastic experience.
If it’s a bit too cold for the zoo, an aquarium makes a great winter field trip destination, too. The aquarium closest to us even has penguins – adorable and one of a few perfect winter study topics!
Whichever you decide to visit (or do both!), try these tips for getting the most out of zoo and aquarium visits.
Take advantage of the cold to head to the local ice rink. Even if you’re in a warmer locale like I am, there may be a temporary ice rink set up nearby. I know we have a couple to choose from even though our winters are relatively mild.
In addition to enjoying a change of pace with your own family, sneak in a little socialization for your weird, unsocialized homeschoolers. Arrange a group trip to the ice rink to learn the behind-the-scenes tasks needed to keep the ice in good shape for guests or what is involved in setting up a seasonal venue.
If you’ve got a professional or minor league hockey team, take a group to watch a game. If not, just schedule some time to skate. Get out of the house and squeeze in a little PE. Win, win!
Any museum is a good idea when it’s cold outside, but we used to love going to the local children’s museum! The windows in the water play area were usually covered in foggy condensation, reminding us how cold it was outside while we were snug inside enjoying a day of fun and educational exploration.
Even during the off-season, while other kids were in school, there were often science demonstrations scheduled in the theater. Plus, the staff and volunteers were happy to spend lots of time with the kids since the place was usually pretty deserted.
When my kids got too old for the children’s museum, the science museum a few towns over was a particular favorite with lots of teen-friendly areas to explore. Additionally, most towns have museums related to local history or products. For example, we have a tow truck museum, a pinball museum, and a railroad museum.
Use some of those long, often monotonous winter homeschool days to explore all the quirky little sites your town has to offer.
If you’ve got a ski lodge within a reasonable driving distance, that can be fun, too. Go skiing or snowboarding on a few fun winter field trips. If you don’t know how to do either, arrange to take some lessons or just watch and spend some time learning more about how the lodge operates.
Do they rely on actual snow, use strictly man-made, or do a combination of both? How is man-made snow created? And how do different types of snow (light and powder, wet and heavy, etc.) affect skiing conditions?
Call to find out if you can arrange a behind-the-scenes tour to see what goes into running a theater. Learn how the movies are delivered to the theater and check out the projection room.
Plan some extension activities related to the movie you’ll be seeing. Or, go see a movie that’s based on a book you’ve read and see how the print version and screen adaptation compare.
You can learn about health, nutrition, and exercise – and swim in the indoor pool! See if you can arrange a tour and/or a sample class and a chance to chat with a personal trainer about keeping healthy and active during the cold weather months – or ask about tips for safely exercising outdoors during the winter.
See if the facility manager would be willing to set up some homeschool PE classes during the winter months. Your kids and others in your homeschool group could do some general fitness and exercise activities or try some great indoor team sports like volleyball or basketball.
Visit a planetarium to learn more about the winter constellations. Because a planetarium is a domed theater that projects images of the night sky, as opposed to an observatory where visitors view the actual sky, you can visit any time of the day or year – but as far as winter field trips are concerned, a cold winter day is a great time to view the stars from a cozy, climate-controlled theater!
Check to see if your family or homeschool group can visit to learn how roads are prepared for winter weather. If you’ve got teens, you might also ask about safe driving tips for icy or snowy road conditions.
You can, of course, visit a TV station any time of year, but there are many benefits to going in the winter. Not only is it indoors (so climate-controlled and inclement-weather resistant), but winter is a great time to talk with your local meteorologist to learn about how winter weather is forecast.
They’ll probably be excited to show you their winter weather models and explain all about predicting snow, ice, and other winter weather conditions.
If the weather really is too bad to leave the house or that spot in front of the fireplace is too comfy to leave, try a virtual field trip! Not only do you get to stay home, but virtual winter field trips allow you and your kids to visit places that might otherwise be inaccessible due to travel and finances.
Some sources include:
Really spice up your winter by joining other homeschooling families from all over the country for a Homeschool Travel Adventures trip! Trish has spent nearly a decade planning trips for large homeschooling groups. With destinations such as Space Camp in Huntsville, AL, to Marine Biology Camp in Vero Beach, FL, you and your family will have a blast with these extended field trips planned just for homeschooling families.
When the gray winter days have you and your kids feeling a little stir-crazy, it’s time to get out of the house and shake things up a bit with a winter field trip! Although it may sound counter-productive, a day of ditching the books and going on an adventure may be just what you all need to get the wiggles out so you can increase your focus and productivity.
What are some of your favorite winter field trips?
Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.
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