Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Family Field-Trips

As you embark on local Adventures with your family, here are some helpful hints.
You set the tone. If Mom is happy and excited, the family will have fun.
You don’t have to do it ALL in one day. Leave the field trip while everyone is happy. When going on a local field trip, remember you can go back! It is much better with preschoolers to take several “short” trips rather than a long exhausting experience. Our family invested in Children’s Museum and zoo memberships so we can return often without feeling pressure to “get our money’s worth.” Many local venues are even free!
Eat in advance and bring snacks. We love going to the Nelson-Atkins Art Gallery (a great free trip). We spend 30-60 min. in the gallery then we take a snack break on the lawn and go back for another 30-60 min.
Relate to young interests. When we go to the art gallery, I don’t expect my toddler to appreciate the differences between Rembrandt and Bingham. We take her so she will begin to enjoy art. When Emily was just 2 years old, her fascination with everything princess was just beginning. She saw the Knight in Shining Armor and immediately squealed with glee at discovering “Prince Charming!”
Scavenger Hunts. This works on field trips and errands. Ask children to find objects one at a time. At the art gallery, I glance at paintings and spot familiar objects (cats, hats, wagons, etc) and ask Emily to find them. For older children, create a list using words or pictures or go on an alphabetical hunt finding objects that start with A, then B, etc. It’s also fun to play, “I Spy.” Hunts are especially good at museums, markets, or other places that aren’t instantly entertaining for tots.
Cameras are not just for Parents. Bring a disposable camera or inexpensive digital for children. Just be sure to observe rules. At many museums, for instance, you may not use a flash.
Finish with a treat. My girls know Winstead’s is within walking distance of the Nelson-Atkins Art Gallery. Have a treat at home or on the way home and talk about the fun you had together.
Be spontaneous. Keep a map and a few resources in the car (the free KC magazines or Visit KC publication are great). Refer to them often and be willing to go where the road takes you from time to time!

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