Field Trips with a Purpose: Immersion Education

Yes, all those other field trips (vacations, virtual, just for fun, etc.) have wonderful benefits and learning opportunities. But the best are those where the children are immersed in an education experience they would no way be able to experience at home or in the classroom. I mean, really, think about it. Field Trip. Off into the field to learn how all these things look like in the great big world.

Since we are focusing right now on state history and we live in the West we went to This Is The Place Heritage Park for our immersion field trip. Unlike the Cove Fort and Hamblin Home experiences, we had the entire day to explore and learn, instead of just an hour or so.

I love this place. I wish there were things like this set up for every child in every state. In the village there are a number of actual pioneer homes that have been relocated from around the state to this one location. Most are filled with actual tools and instruments that had been used by the inhabitants -or replicas or other pieces from the time. There is a staff member instead most of the homes prepared to tell you about the items, explain why they were necessary or useful, how they worked, show you how they worked, and give you a good sense of what it would be like for the family who lived or worked there. We went to a homestead, a middle class home, the bank, a sort of bed-and-breakfast, a tanner’s shop, a drug store, a blacksmith, a wilderness man’s camp, a Native American teepee, a little farm, an apple orchard planted by the pioneers, a gristmill, the telegraph office, a tithing house, and a Relief Society Hall (My personal favorite. If you know me, you’ll know why!) And more! I know, how can there possibly be even more!

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We learned all about different leathers from different animals and how to tan them, how to spin wool and dye and weave it into cloth, how to plow the fields, do the laundry, play pioneer games, which herbs to grow for home use, how to mine for gold – and we even got some too! One of the greatest things about this place is that each home/shop has it’s personal history preserved. When we went into the drugstore we learned about the man who loaded 22 wagons of supplies from San Francisco to open that particular drugstore, the first between San Francisco and the Missouri River. We learned about the Jewkes Family who lived in the middle class home. We learned about the Hooper and Eldredge Bank which through time and buyouts has become Wells Fargo. And we got to pet a baby lamb and pick up chicks and ride ponies. That was fun for the kids, too.

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The only thing I was disappoint in was their Native American village. The last time I had been there it was fantastic! Since we are also doing an extended Native American study unit I was really looking forward to this. Sadly, the teepee village is under construction and all they had was a teepee made of synthetic material set up on the grass and a woman dressed in semi-traditional Ute clothing helping kids make necklaces out of pony beads. *Sigh* Well, you don’t always get everything you want.

DSC03489So you can see how an adventure like this would enhance any serious student’s understanding of early pioneer life in the West. We would never have experienced this just from a book – or even 20 books. We are fortunate to live not too far from many wonderful experiences like this. And chances are you probably do too. Sometimes you just have to look a little.

The nice thing about parks like this, educational in nature, is that they tend to have homeschool pricing available. I think I saved about 50% on this trip. At this particular park, and I’ve noticed other places around the country do to, they have 2 specific days designated for homeschoolers in particular. We were given the field trip pricing and a field trip wristband for being on their homeschool list and coming on that particular day. Look into this. Especially since these things also tend to be really expensive. Being a home school you have the opportunity to take field trips all the time with far less limitations than the public schools. However, the limitation we all still share is finances. You can check out websites but my favorite is to just find a phone number and call. (I kind of like to actually talk to actual people!) And what I have learned this year with our trip to the zoo is that you better call way in advance or you miss out on those lower priced days. 😦

Here are some of our favorite photos of our day in our immersion educational experience.

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Of course at the end of the day we got caught in a random thunder and lightning storm and came out pouring wet. Welcome to spring in Utah. I asked my kids what they learned from the day and my five year, old chowing down on Brigham’s Donuts, said, “well, I wasn’t really… well… you know….I didn’t learn anything!”

All right. No guarantees.

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