by Jennie Smith
Secondary Assistant Principal
My classroom is quiet today – most of our high school students are off on a week-long educational field trip. One of my favorite tasks is planning the Spring Trip – this year’s trip has barely begun and I already have next year’s planned in my head. I love digging up information on an area and planning out educational opportunities for students to learn outside of the classroom. These experiences are not just limited to school hours and field trips. If you would like to add some learning opportunities to your summer vacation, here are some tips for doing so:
1. Trip Advisor
I always start trip planning with tripadvisor.com. Put in your destination and you can discover a lot of information about the place to which you are travelling. One of my favorite links is “Things to Do.” This lists, in order of popularity, different attractions in the area – museums, national parks, hiking trails, and other activities. Travelers have rated the attractions and have left reviews of the site. From the reviews, you can get a good understanding if this is an appropriate stop for your family.
2. The Website
After picking out a few attractions for your family to visit, explore the attraction’s website. Most of the websites will have an “Education” tab – those are not just for teachers! This will be the place you will find out if there are daily tours, ranger programs, or movies. Other helpful tabs may be “Plan Your Visit” or “Programs.”
On the website, you may find a “Teacher Resources” section. Many attractions prepare lessons for teachers to use before coming on site for a field trip. Explore those – you don’t have to show a teacher I.D. to click on the link. You may find some fun printables – coloring pages, mazes, word searches – that you can take along with you for some in-car fun.
4. Late Night Fun
On the Spring Trip, I like to keep the kids busy until late at night. There are many educational opportunities that can happen after dark. Is there an IMAX theater with a cool documentary about something local? Is there a symphony performance or Broadway style show everyone can get dressed up for? Is there an observatory in the area? Many times they host public night viewings. Your kids will be so excited about staying up past bedtime, they won’t realize they are learning something too.
5. Before You Go
Many times Christian parents have to fight against evolutionary ideas when visiting national parks and museums. Arm yourself with good movies, books, and information before you leave. Answers in Genesis is a reputable and excellent company that puts out stellar information on many of the amazing sites in our world. Buy a movie or two for the car ride and help give your children the truth before you arrive at your destination. Some of the movies can be rented from Amazon.com if you have computer access on your trip.
6. Themed Vacation
If you aren’t committed to a particular place for your vacation, consider making a themed vacation. For example, the students of FCS are currently on a geology themed experience. They are visiting amazing rock formations, the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, and even taking a float trip down the Colorado River – they are experiencing God’s glorious hand and learning something at the same time. Other ideas: Wild West, Arts and Culture, Biology, US History, Government. My dream vacation would be a literature tour of Boston, Massachusetts. What are some themed vacations you can think of?
One of the greatest goals I have for the students attending the Spring Trip at Faith Christian School is that they would understand that learning can happen ANYWHERE! Learning can be fun! Learning isn’t confined to the inside of the classroom! God has given us a great big world to explore and He reveals Himself to us in many ways and there is so much joy in discovering these wonderful treats He has given us. I challenge you to make your next summer vacation an enjoyable, learning experience for your child. Give it a try – may you too experience the joy of lifelong learning!