Everyone has a field trip memory. Field trips are the highlight of the school year and are more than a distraction from a typical day in the classroom. Field trips enrich and expand the curriculum, strengthen observation skills by immersing children in sensory activities, increase knowledge in a specific subject area and introduce students to their greater community. Regular, age-appropriate, immersive educational experiences, like a field trip, contribute to developing vital critical-thinking skills, historical empathy, and an appreciation for art and culture. But parents and guardians don’t have to rely on a school to schedule an exciting educational experience. They can take the reins themselves.
Mississippi writer and photographer Erin Austen Abbott advocates for families to plan family field trips intentionally. Abbott wrote the book on it to encourage families to “be a traveler, not a tourist.” Regardless of the season, the distance, or the budget, Abbott hopes everyone will explore the world around them and expand their horizons.
“You don’t have to travel abroad to learn about the world. Whether you’re in your neighborhood or traveling across the country, you can make it a learning experience,” Abbott says.
Using her degree in early childhood education, insights from her extensive travels, and experience as a teacher and travel nanny, Abbott wrote Family Field Trip, a helpful guide packed with over 75 activities for kids to learn about the world around them from home and beyond.
Abbott’s family makes their home in Water Valley, in north Mississippi, but the field trip concept has made the world their classroom. When kids are more engaged and curious, the whole family enjoys outings. “It’s a way for kids to get out of their bubble and become more adaptable to new places and different cultures.”
A family field trip is more intentional than a fun family outing. The purpose is to educate while entertaining. FieldTripDirectory.com is a free resource of Mississippi field trip ideas for elementary school students, high school students, camp groups, homeschool groups, and scout troops for day field trips, overnight field trips, and youth retreats. Families can take advantage of what groups do, too! You can learn about Mississippi’s museums, zoos, aquariums, botanic gardens, nature centers, historical sites, amusement parks, recreation, performing arts, and more.
One of Abbott’s family’s favorite field trip spots is the Mississippi Sky Lake boardwalk hike. “It is a downright enchanting place to visit.” ” You can walk 12 feet above the forest floor and wind through a canopy of ancient cypress trees, of which some are over 1,000 years old!” Abbott shares.
Abbott recommends visiting your local library and letting your child pick out age-appropriate books on different cultures or areas of the state. Expand on the topic at home by watching a documentary, cooking cuisine that compliments the culture, listening to the music and playing dress-up to mimic cultural attire. You could do this once a month and travel the world at home!
You don’t have to go far to create a memorable family field trip. All you need is to be intentional with making it educational and let the fun take care of itself!
*Photos courtesy of Erin Abbotts Instagram Account – fieldtripblog