woman taking a photo on her phone of art in gallery Sept. 3, 2015

Lions, Tigers and Bears – Oh My…and Hippos too!

Are you looking for a fun field trip to liven up your homeschool day? Each year, Excel Academy offers local outings which allow students to experience the excitement of real-world exploration.  For a child, these adventures bring wonder and enthusiasm back to the learning environment.  What parent hasn’t had the chatty child who wants to divulge all the details of their day to any willing listener?  Quite quickly, a reluctant learner can unknowingly turn into a willing participant, as their natural curiosity is sparked by the world around them.  

For a homeschool parent, this is an awesome opportunity to  kick-off meaningful learning activities within your home. Your student can choose a topic of interest from your trip which they would like to study further.  In addition to your local library, most places of historic or scientific interest have teaching resources on their websites. These resources are a wealth of information, often connecting you to quality educational ideas your child will love.  The real-life connection of the field trip, mixed with these further projects can make your homeschool days come back to life!  And, your children just might remember their learning with fondness for years to come.

To begin your learning adventures, please check out the free list of free museums below and keep a lookout for Excel Academy’s continually updated list of fantastic field trips!

The fun part is that kids don’t see taking a trip to the zoo as school work, but it is packed with learning opportunities for the parent. You can stretch this one day into a week of learning and building real world connections to the material you might be struggling to make exciting. The San Diego Zoo and Safari Park offer free admission to kids in the month of October. Excel families were among the lucky ones to get to visit the San Diego Zoo this month. Over 200 Excel family members headed to San Diego on October 12th to enjoy all the zoo has to offer. There are so many great exhibits for kids to explore and learn more about their favorite animals. You can often find interesting worksheets or extra information listed on the website under teacher resources.  You could use the information to make the drive down to the park more fun or as a way to keep them engaged during the trip. Some kids like to write about their visit and can use the worksheets to remind them of favorite moments. There are many resources for homeschool parents to help extend the learning for any trip. Another fantastic place to visit with kids is the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. They have a wonderful teacher section on their website. I often print out and make a packet for the kids before we go to the museum. There are fun interactive games, questions to answer, and a sheet to collect rubbings from the exhibits. They also offer a talking points sheet for the parent of chaperone. Your kids will think you are the smartest person with all the new facts you will be able to share.  The Aquarium of the Pacific does a great job organizing the information by different grade level.  I strongly recommend homeschool families to take advantage of this educational program. The kids will remember your trip to the aquarium much longer than reading about hammerhead sharks out of a book.  Making the learning meaningful by bringing it to life!

Here is a list of free museums throughout the Los Angeles and Orange County areas:

  • Daily: Hammer Museum. Monday – Friday: Chapman University Permanent Exhibits, Wells Fargo History Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, for Los Angeles residents after 3 p.m.
  • Tuesday – Saturday: Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum, Flight Path Learning Center and Museum.
  • Tuesday – Sunday: California African American Museum, Getty Center. Wednesday – Monday: Getty Villa.
  • Wednesday – Sunday: Homestead Museum, Rancho Los Alamitos, Rancho Los Cerritos, The Paley Center for Media.
  • Thursday – Tuesday: Los Angeles County Museum of Art (kids ages 17 and under are always free).
  • Sundays: Museum of Latin American Art.
  • First Tuesday: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits. Kidspace, first Tuesday night from 4-8 p.m.
  • Second Tuesday: Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Autry National Center.
  • Thursdays: Skirball Cultural Center.
  • First Thursday: Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens with reserved tickets.
  • Third Thursday: Japanese American National Museum. Thursday nights: Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), 5-8 p.m., and Japanese American National Museum from 5-8 p.m. First Friday: Norton Simon Museum, 5-8 p.m.
  • Friday: Long Beach Museum of Art.

by Christa Nick & Mike Wong