We have enjoyed a range of different outings over the Christmas/New Year school holiday period here in Australia. We’ve been to the theatre, travelled on public transport, enjoyed an animal nursery hosted at our local library, shared lunch in the city and breakfast at the beach, visited the museum and the art gallery, just to name a few. In the course of these outings I have used a number of the strategies from my teaching days that act to make the most of excursions or day trips with children, helping them to both engage with the experience and to recall key elements of their visit (and their learning) afterward.
Immy’s photo of the Books Moove Me artwork at the State Library of WA.
Today I want to share 8 ideas for making the most of your next outing, excursion or day trip…
1. Make the most of the journey
Oftentimes the journey can hold just as much fascination, especially for a small child, as the final destination. For a recent trip into the city, Immy and I took the train and along the way we observed, talked about and recorded aspects of the journey. Immy was fascinated by everything from our fellow passengers to buildings and familiar landmarks we saw along the way, from other forms of transport we observed to the audio recordings that we heard as we arrived at each station. We talked about what we were looking forward to on our day out and Immy took photos along the way.
2. Hand over the camera
Encouraging your child to take photos and/or record video snippets during your excursion can provide insight into what meant the most to them about the experience. Immy used my compact, point and shoot camera on many of our outings, not all of the time but at key points along the way she would ask for it or I would offer it as a way of preserving the memory of something that really captured her interest, like the blue cow artwork at the State Library.
It has been wonderful to look back and recall these aspects of our outings, especially at places like the museum where we saw so much. Using the photos to create a shared story about your outing or to journal and scrapbook extends the experience and encourages your child to recall key moments, details about places, people and things, their own emotional response to the trip, and may also reinforce any facts they learned along the way.
Seaside impressions in clay
3. Use creative materials during or after the event
Taking a field journal and pencil roll on an excursion provides another simple way of encouraging children to record their impressions along the way, either through drawing, sketching or writing.
Alternatively, consider ways in which to use art materials to revisit the event once back at home. We made the seaside impressions in slabs of air dry clay after coming home from our beach breakfast picnic, using some of the shells we had collected that day and some we already had at home. We made holes for hanging and left our plaques to dry. Don’t just think of the obvious drawing and painting for your memory making, collage, sculpture and printmaking can work just as well.
4. Write a letter of thanks or a letter to a friend
Following a day trip with a letter of thanks to your venue or guide or writing a letter about your day to a friend or family member is a great way of encouraging recall of the event and written communication. For pre-writers, you can simply scribe their recollections for them and they might like to add a picture, photo or their name.
5. Add venue maps, brochures, exhibition guides, or theatrical programs or soundtracks to playtime
I have written previously about adding venue maps to play following an outing. Brochures, exhibition guides, theatre programs and even theatrical soundtracks, can all act as a prompt to encourage recall and extend an interest following an outing.
6. Conduct a video interview
Why not video tape an interview of your child about their experience after the event? Thanks to modern day technology, video has become a simple tool to use with children – Immy loves watching herself over and over again!
7. Incorporate elements of your outing into play back at home
Since our visits to the city, Immy has asked that we build a collection of tall office buildings with her Lego and her city even includes a sculpture! Her mini-figs enjoy all sorts of adventures between work and home. There are all sorts of imaginary play scenes you can create to incorporate elements of your outings back at home, here is an example I have used previously following a visit to the zoo. Alternatively you could create a diorama or add relevant costumes to your dress up collection or photos from your outing to your block construction area.
8. Be open to new discoveries whilst you are out and about
Although this can be more difficult on group excursions where you are more likely to be restricted to a set timetable and route, being open to new discoveries along the way may just add an extra element of exploration to your outing. For example, Immy and I discovered a new, outdoor musical play area just near the Perth Museum that was not there when we visited previously and Immy had a wonderful time exploring all of the instruments and other sculptural elements of the space (in fact, if you are in Perth city it really is worth a visit).
What outings have you enjoyed with your children most recently?