Monday, June 8, 2015

Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal ~ A Crew Review

If our home schooling journey has a motto, it would be “Life is a Field Trip!” We have included experiential learning as much as possible since even before the girls were school aged. Imagine our delight when we found out that Apologia Educational Ministries was producing a journal for all kinds of field trips! Arlene has been reviewing the new Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal this Spring, so I’ll let her tell you all about it!

From Arlene (age 15)
As a homeschool family we go on a lot of field trips. Some just for fun and others to go along with what we are studying for school. But have you ever wondered “ is my child actually learning anything? Are they seeing how this relates to what we have been learning in school? Or even in real life?” Well worry no more! Now there is the Apologia Field Trip Journal (and don’t worry about your kid who dislikes writing things down, this book is a fun way to write down what they saw without becoming boring or repetitive.) The field trip pages include a  place to put when and where you went, then to draw a map, write down what books they read to go with the trip and draw or glue in a picture of their favorite thing from the trip. Then it has a space to write a paragraph about what they saw and a few sentences about their favorite part. This book is also great because it goes past just the standard field trip. Maybe your child has a “special spot” that they make a “field trip” to almost every day. This book comes with pages to record what they see. There is a page for every season from Fall to Summer. These pages include a place for a photo or drawing, a place to record the weather, and a place for notes, whether about what is around them or why it is their favorite spot. They also include a grid to draw out the special spot and what is around it. There is also How I See It pages which are for just that, they include some suggestions like movement, textures, 3-D, animals, the sky, the ground, and life. But it also has many blank As I See It pages so the child can draw whatever they want. It doesn’t have to be fancy or detailed but it doesn’t have to be simple either, that’s why it is how they see it.    

More from Carol
This 8.5 x 11” spiral bound journal can be used in your backyard, the local park, or on a trip across the continent. The book is designed for flexibility, yet makes great suggestions in the How to Use… pages. The beginning of the journal includes pages about preparing for a field trip, and over 100 field trip ideas. (Arlene counted and she has done 43 of these 108 trips sometime in the past.) There is also a link in the book that grants you access to Apologia’s extras page that contains links to about 200 more field trip places or ideas. The focus of the journal is to give your children a fun place to record what they have seen and where they have been. There are pages for Places I’ve Explored in your state, the USA, and the world. Whether you’re on a berry-picking trip, or an adventure at the local zoo, your child can draw and write all about it in this journal.

The pages in the front of the journal that focus on preparing for a field trip can be used for individual or group settings. They give hints on what the teachers and students should do to prepare: the week before the trip, the night before, on the way, and at the field. If you’ve been wanting to take your students on a field trip, but have been hesitating, wait no more. If you’re going hiking in a National Park, or going on a fossil hunt, you will obviously need to do more preparation than if you’re going out in your back yard to turn over rocks and look for bugs. Either way, remember your sunblock, insect repellent, and this journal!

Arlene’s first comment was “why didn’t they have this when I was littler?” We have been so many fun places, fortunately we took pictures at almost all of them, so she can go back and think about which places she would like to go again, or what new places we should visit now that she is in High School. One of the links led her to a virtual tour of a museum in our state capitol that she is adding to our list for this Fall.

Just to give you some ideas, places we’ve been in the past few years for field trips include: berry picking, jewelry shop, concerts, state fair, state parks, national lakeshore, powwows, historic sites, science centers, fossil hunting, courthouse, city hall, ethnic restaurant, ballet, symphony, zoo, aviary, aquarium, art gallery and museum, and a sports arena. We’ve also planted a butterfly garden, grown vegetables, ridden our bikes on the local trails, visited the library and the post office, and climbed trees in our own backyard.

Since this is meant to be used in the field, don’t worry overmuch about spelling or handwriting. Arlene takes a long time to write things down, dysgraphia will do that to a person. I was more interested in her recording her thought as they happened, than making this a writing assignment. This is their book, not yours. Let them use it to record what is most important to them. If they use a pencil, they can always go back later if they notice misspelled words.

I appreciate the ability to adapt this book to wherever you are. Field trips do not have to be expensive, and they can happen in your own neighborhood. We have been on dozens, probably hundreds of field trips, over the girls’ lifetimes. Most of them cost us $10 or less. Every once in a while we save up and go on a grand adventure (meaning it cost $50 or more.) This Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal is designed to make recording the trip easy on your child. You can have one journal for each child, or use it as a family album. The My Special Spot pages encourage the child to focus on the beauty and changes in God’s creation, returning to the same location several times in a year. This combination journal/ scrapbook looks like a fancy spiral-bound notebook, but is made with card stock weight pages so the recorder can use a eraser if necessary. Use this book to record field trips, 4-H experiences, as a nature notebook and more. The 64 page Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal currently retails for $22, and would make a great addition to your young explorer’s toolbox!

After all - Life is a Field Trip!

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