field trips

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How to Take a Virtual Field Trip

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Wouldn’t it be great if you could step into a transporter and beam yourself across the country or around the world to take advantage of all the wonderful field trip opportunities? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if bad weather, lack of transportation, or a strict budget couldn’t hold you back from visiting that exciting art gallery or checking out a don’t-miss museum exhibit?

The good news is the lack of your very own transport room, low funds, or even the sniffles doesn’t have to interfere with field trips. You can get out and see the sights–virtually.

What Is a Virtual Field Trip?

A virtual field trip is an Internet collection of photos, slides, videos, or live webcam feeds that explores a particular subject or attraction. It uses technology to create a field trip experience you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home–often for free. This is a great way to make online learning work for your homeschool.

What You Should Know

You don’t need a lot of preparation to go on a virtual field trip. In fact, you really only need a reliable Internet connection and a quiet place to take in the sights and sounds without too many distractions. However, your child may get more out of the experience if you discuss the field trip and what he will see and learn in advance and then recap afterwards, giving him the opportunity to process his thoughts and ask questions.

Ready? Let’s Go

You can make your own virtual field trips using images or videos you either own or have a legal right to use. If you choose to do this, upload your images or videos to a webpage or create a power point presentation out of them. However, why put in all of that work when there are so many virtual field trips already set up and ready for you? Just search the Web using the term virtual field trips and you will find a wealth of options. Here are some to explore right now:

Go on now. Get out there and see the world via your computer. Then come back here and tell us about the amazing trip you took. Share the details in the comments!

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Educational Trips in Charlotte, North Carolina

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Charlotte, North Carolina is filled with educational activities that you can enjoy with your whole family. Rich in history, Charlotte is a cutting edge city and a financial powerhouse. Despite the shiny new exterior, Charlotte is filled with good old fashion southern charm. Inside the beltline, you can find museums, green spaces and cultural events year round. Within an hour from the city center, you can find everything from NASCAR garages to real live gold and emerald mines. Because of this, Charlotte makes a great place to visit for a homeschooling family.

Whether your children love history or science, there is something here for everyone. While you are enjoying your trip to Charlotte, you can fit in some important homeschooling lessons as well. Here are just a few suggestions for places to visit and learn while you are in the Queen City.

Lessons in Science

Discovery Place Museum

The Discovery Place Museum is the perfect place for curious kids who love to find out how things work. Unlike other museums where kids can just look, the Discovery Place is one of those rare museums that kids can actually touch. Kids from 3 to 99 can participate in the activities from water play to physics. The activities are so much fun, your kids won’t even realize that they are educational. For the little ones, they will love the aquarium, rainforest and the Kid Science areas where activities are geared towards growing minds and bodies. Older kids will love exhibits like “Cool Stuff” where they can do activities from lying on a bed of nails to crushing garbage cans with their sheer strength.

Tip: The Discovery Place participates in the ASTC Passport Program. If you have a membership to a science center you can gain free admission to the museum with your reciprocal membership.

Lessons in History

Carolinas Aviation Museum

North Carolina is rich in aviation history and it’s on full display at the Carolinas Aviation Museum. The Wright Brothers, two bicycle repairmen, on a beach in Kitty Hawk made North Carolina the “first in flight”. Since then, the Carolinas have been instrumental in the aviation industry. When you step foot in the museum, you can learn about not only the people who made air travel what it is today, but you can also learn about the science of aviation. Inside the building you can see many different types of aircraft from the “Miracle on the Hudson” airplane to the one that started it all. The Wright Flyer is proudly on display for everyone to see how far travel has come in the last century.

Tip: The museum is not air conditioned, so if you are visiting in the summer, you may want to go early in the day before the southern heat kicks in.

Historic Rosedale Plantation

Nestled in the heart of Charlotte, lies the Rosedale Plantation. It’s a peek back into the 1800’s and what it was like in a real Plantation in the south. Built in 1815, Rosedale is one of Charlotte’s best kept secrets. For the kids, the plantation offers a peek into life in the south in the early 1800’s. You can take a tour of the residence and room by room view exactly what the plantation looked like and how its residents lived over two hundred years ago. Rosedale is home to six trees on the property that are listed as historic treasures. For $1 you can buy a Treasure Hunt Booklet and you can find and identify these trees. It also explains why they are so special. It’s a great activity for kids involving nature and history.

Tip: Tours at Rosedale Plantation are Friday, Saturday and Sundays, but if you would like to take a group of 15 or more, you can make reservations for other times.

Lessons in Nature

Charlotte Nature Museum

For kids that love nature and all of the creatures that live there, a trip to the Charlotte Nature Museum is a perfect place to spend the day. There is an outdoor exhibit “Go Wild” where kids can explore nature. The outdoor exhibit allows the full sensory experience as well as working their critical thinking, creativity and problem solving skills. There is also a Butterfly Pavilion where kids can walk among the butterflies, which is a once in a lifetime experience. Other exhibits like Creature Cavern (wild animals native to NC), Insect Alley, and Peetie’s Place (a parent-child activity center) will help you teach your little learners all about the great outdoors.

Tip: The Charlotte Nature Museum is geared towards children 3-7. Make sure that you check their event calendar before visiting as they host some really great kid events throughout the year.

McDowell Nature Center and Preserve

The McDowell Nature Center and Preserve is over a thousand acres of forest filled with wildlife, nature trails, playgrounds and picnic areas.  You can visit the nature center located at the entrance where you can pick up information about some of the wildlife. Taking a trip to the McDowell Preserve can offer a respite from the city and also can teach kids about nature. You can engage the kids in a nature scavenger hunt or take along a guidebook so you can identify the plant species.

Tip: Make sure to visit Copperhead Island where they have boating, fishing and primitive camping.

The best time to visit Charlotte is in the spring and early summer. Temperatures can reach in the 70’s and 80’s and it’s a welcome break for those of you who live in chilly climates. Southern hospitality is always in full force here and you will find the residents will be more than happy to tell you their favorite spot in the city or direct you to their favorite barbecue joint. Above are just a few places that would provide your kids with a valuable learning experience when visiting Charlotte. You can get more ideas by downloading a free visitors guide from Charlottes Got Alot.

What’s your favorite educational activity in or around Charlotte? Share with us in the comments below!

 

 

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