Thursday, June 11, 2015

Review: Field Trip Journal

One of the best perks of homeschooling is the ability to be flexible and take field trips at any time of the school year, fitting them around the subjects we are studying. Apologia Educational Ministries has produced an amazing Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal to help home school families absorb the most learning that they can out of their field trips, and we were privileged to receive a copy of this new book for our family to review.

If you are familiar with Apologia, you already know that one of the biggest components of their curriculum is the hands-on aspect of the student observing and recording their own thoughts and observations of the subject matter they are studying. This Field Trip Journal allows families to plan and organize activities into a fun learning experience.

About the Journal: This 64 page book is spiral bound with a thick front and back cover. The pages are a heavier weight to make them sturdy, making the journal ideal for carrying "out on the road" and filling out on site at the destination. The journal has four sections:
  1. "Places I've Explored" has pages for past trips where the student can record destinations around their town, state, country, and even the world. 
  2. "Field Trip Pages" create a plan for each specific short trip. There are spots to discuss and record an emergency plan, books to read in preparation of the trip, and sites the student wishes to see. As they are on the trip, they can record specific details, draw a map, or draw some other special observation or memory. The second page has room for them to journal the "story of their day" as well as a spot to record a special memory of "Something not to forget". 
  3. "My Special Spot" allows the student to choose a location that is special and unique to them, and record how that spot looks and changes over the course of a year, detailing seasonal changes.
  4. "As I See It" gives plenty of space for drawing and writing about our world, including plenty of suggestions for things to observe in nature, such as shadows, patterns, colors, predators, prey, sky, earth, and life cycles. 
A few extras: There are plenty of instructions and suggestions for parents to make this journal an effective learning tool. There are lists full of unique activity suggestions - many that I never considered as 'field trip' learning experiences! There is also a code included that unlocks a whole page of online resources for expanding the use of the journal.

What I like about this: I love the creativity of this journal. It is set up like a fancy scrapbook for kids to really personalize with their own memories of their daily activities. It helped me to see the learning opportunities in everyday, mundane tasks. Something as simple as having a 'Nature Scavenger Hunt' in the backyard can be turned into a fun and educational memory that I share with my children. I think it really is helping me to not just "do field trips" but to really have a purpose and plan for those trips.

How we used this journal: While we have not done any major field trips yet (although we do have zoo tickets ready to use soon!) I used this journal to help the children observe and record some everyday activities that we did together as a family. Writing things down and taking pictures to go with them made those everyday activities more purposeful for learning. We wrote in the journal about going to the barn and taking care of Grandma's ponies, and we also had a 'Nature Scavenger Hunt', which turned out to be a lot of fun. The girls really enjoyed these experiences, and we look forward to making more memories and recording them in our journal!

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Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review
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