After seeing the Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal from Apologia Educational Ministries, I realized that I should have been more intentional about finding educational opportunities in our regular travels.
The Field Trip Journal is a 64 page soft-cover workbook with a spiral binding. At first I wondered if it would be more convenient to take on field trips if it were smaller than regular notebook size. We usually end up carrying at least one backpack on our trips, and it wasn't a big deal to toss in the journal and a pencil.
The journal itself is divided into four sections.
Places I've Explored:
This section contains double page spreads for listing the date and destination for trips in my state, in the United States, and In the World. My favorite part of this section is the blank US map. For years Addison has colored in the states she's visited on a blank map she hung in her room. We're going to let Lauren use this map to keep her own record.
Field Trip Pages:
This section contains ten double-page spreads for recording specific information about a trip. I like that it has a few places to record specific information (place, date, a photo/drawing) and lots of space to record whatever the child wants. When Lauren filled out the pages about our recent trip to the Painted Desert National Park, she took the heading, "Story of my day:" quite literally and started her writing with "Onse upon a time."
My Special Spot:
Not only did the Field Trip Journal encourage me to see the educational value of our bigger family trips, it also encouraged me to slow down and pay closer attention to the environment near our home. The student is asked to find a small section of wildlife to observe four times over the course of a year. The general idea is to see how this area changes with the seasons, either because of the weather or because of the life cycles for the plants, animals, and insects in that area. The pages in this section give the student an area to draw what they see and an area for taking notes. Since we don't have four more seasons left in Arizona, I'll save this section for a special wildlife place in Colorado.
As I See It:
Nothing is more frustrating than a journal with so many preprinted pages that you can't find a place to record special memories that don't fit into a specific predetermined category. The last (and perhaps biggest) section of the Field Trip Journal is full of mostly blank pages for recording thoughts and drawings.
I have a feeling our Field Trip Journal is going to become a treasured memory all our trips. Perhaps more importantly, it may inspire me to take full advantage of the educational opportunities we find when do take field trips. Once we move, I will need to track our educational activities and school hours more closely than I have before. With the suggestions from Apologia in the journal and in their special extra resources section online, I'll be able to translate our regular trips to explore a new area into learning activities that count as schoolwork for my records.