Many public schools take field trips to the local zoo because they are a very educational experience for children of all ages. Why should it be any different if you home school your children? A trip to the zoo can be a fantastic homeschool field trip opportunity and if you home school, it actually gives you even more opportunity to teach your children about what they see than they would likely get in a school setting.
Here are some ways to make a zoo trip educational:
Give your kids an assignment- One way we make our zoo trips educational is to give the kids an assignment such as to write a report on their favorite animal from the zoo. If you go to the same zoo often, you might give your student an assignment to do a history on the zoo or something similar.
Have them take notes-Take notebooks or paper and pencil and take notes of what they see. On our last visit to the zoo, there were also Montessori schools and a Christian private school there and their students were also taking notes, completing worksheets and studying for quizzes about what they had seen that day.
Read all of the exhibits- Take the time to stop and read all of the exhibits. If your children are not old enough to read, then read them aloud to them. Talk about what you read and what it means. Make it relational to the animals and exhibits you are looking at. This helps your child know what they are looking at and it feeds that curiosity.
Have park/zoo employees explain habitats and animals- Take the tour guides when you can and when employees come by to talk about the animals or exhibits, listen to them and allow your children to ask questions if they want and take notes. We learned that our zoo has two female elephants (my son’s favorite animal) and that one has been there since the zoo was built. We also learned that elephants are like humans in that they have a dominant tusk like we have a dominant hand. The dominant tusk of an elephant will be more worn down from playing and poking at things in the habitat.
Part of the beauty of home school is that you have the control to choose how you educate your child. You and your children have more freedom in how they learn and there is more opportunity to be hands-on. Now that you know more about how to make a zoo trip educational, you can take a home school field trip to the zoo and give your children the most educational benefit from it. Don’t forget to have fun because learning is also better when you make it fun.