Virtual Field Trips a Part of Your Home School!March 27, 2019
Posted By Volunteer Contributor Kimberly Smith
When I think about a field trip, I think about touring a city with a guide walking and talking about the buildings and history while we soak in the richness of the day. While that makes for a great field trip a virtual field trip can be that and so much more! Many of us have a difficult time wrapping our minds around the concept of “virtual field trips.” This tool has really enriched my child`s life as well as my own. The thing is, many if not most of you reading this use virtual field trips and don’t even realize it. So let’s take some time to explain this wonderful tool that all home school families should use.
What is a Virtual Field trip?
In order to use virtual field trips, one must understand what it is. A Virtual Field trip is a digital or online exploration based on a specific theme. It can be any theme; animals, art, history, etc. The beauty of it is that you don’t have to leave your home which saves money and time, yet the whole world is at your fingertips!
What are the types of Virtual Field trips?
The most common sites are the ones you find in your search engine when you type in the subject matter. And, the most widely used site for virtual field trips is You-tube. You-tube will have videos on every subject imaginable and for the most part, it is free to use. You just have to deal with the ads, but since it’s free – we’re not complaining! You-tube is the easiest to use and you have many choices to pick from. This is what I enjoy using on a weekly basis.
Another type is more structured often includes objectives and education activities to help enhance the trip, however, there is often a cost to these. Websites like Virtualfieldtrips.org are dedicated to education and helping to bring subject matters to life. You will know what you are studying and watching. I have not used this type yet, but I see the value if you are doing a unit study and need specific information and want documentation that you participated in that program.
Virtual field trips can also be developed through the use of apps. One homeschool favorite is the NASA app which allows you to use an iPad or tablet, step outside in the evening, and view the stars and constellations wherever you point the tablet at the sky. Real-time viewing of stars that we often can’t see clearly is a great way to explore the constellations and amazing heavenly bodies.
Another amazing way to get in on cutting edge technology in virtual field trips is to use a virtual reality headset. Just as our cover image depicts, virtual reality can make visiting a far away destination an amazing 3-D adventure for your virtual field trip!
Why use Virtual Field Trips?
A virtual field trip can enrich your child’s education. It brings pictures, history, art, and science to life. It is not just an idea read in a book, but it becomes practical and real. This past year we have been studying swimming creatures for science and as we study different creatures, we then use You-tube to look them up and watch them in their natural environment. For my 7-year-old it has really shown him just how wonderful these creatures are.
Another example is art. We will read about an artist, look them up on Youtube, watch some history, and get to see the artwork up close. No costly trips to a museum.
This is just another tool that home school families have at their fingertips and the best part is it is free or low cost. So look up that animal, masterpiece, or place, and go exploring.
Kimberly Smith – Volunteer Contributor
Kimberly Smith is a homeschooling mom of 4 children with three of those in college! Kim and her family enjoy fostering children, were thrilled to adopt their seven-year-old through fostering, and are now homeschooling again! Kim has had over 17 years of homeschool experience including the privilege to homeschool a child with serious learning disabilities as well as a gifted child. Kim and her husband of 26 years have gone through many ups and downs with their children as well as in life. Job losses, frequent moves, the challenge of loving a child through rebellion, and their faith have been a part of their growth and give Kimberly the insight to touch others.