“From Moroni to Massasoit,” Ensign, Apr. 1988, 66–67
The idea was born one evening as we drove toward our state capitol with our two-year-old and some good friends. We simultaneously asked our daughter, “Now who is that?” while pointing to a towering statue of an Indian on the capitol grounds. “Angel Massasoit!” she proclaimed with confidence. The car bounced with our chuckles as we delighted in the mix-up. She had confused Massasoit with another statue down the street atop the Salt Lake Temple.
We decided a trip was in order to discover the difference between the two statues. We had pointed out the statues, we had even told her the story of Moroni. However, real learning did not take place until she traced the foot of Massasoit with her curious fingers and peered upward at the golden Moroni. Reinforced was the notion that experience is the greatest teacher.
Thus was born the idea of family field trips—an activity we have enjoyed for many years. Here are some ideas we have found helpful in planning our trips.
Turn Questions into Field Trips
What do you do when a four-year-old wants to know if a ghost town is where ghosts live? Go see one!
How do you answer the question, “What does Grandpa do? Does he work?” Make an appointment to visit the site of Grandpa’s toils, during working hours, if appropriate. Don’t neglect a lunch invitation so he can share why he chose his vocation.
What is your response to “Does chocolate milk come from brown cows?” Find a friendly dairy farmer (preferably one with a brownish cow) and let your kids see the truth with their own eyes.
Is the reply to “Is our baby alive in there?” a one-word yes? Arrange with the obstetrician for the family to accompany Mom and listen to that very much alive and beating heart.
Don’t Succumb to the “Grass Is Greener” Syndrome
Discover your own city and state. Visit attractions such as restored buildings, museums, fish markets, natural disaster aftermaths, cathedrals or tabernacles, national parks, and monuments.
Scour the newspaper for events that might be of interest to your family. Consider such things as concerts, pageants, art festivals, cultural or ethnic festivals, and special showings at museums. One of our most memorable summer field trips was a jaunt to the German festival in a nearby city. We sampled genuine rotkohl and tongue-tickling pretzels. The folk dancing was a fascinating, foot-stepping favorite. Dad, who served a mission in Germany, was in bratwurst heaven.
Spark Future Career Interests
When a child or teenager says, “When I grow up I’d like to …” or “I’d love to try that,” turn it into a field trip. Let them see the work behind the title. Observe the legislature in session. Explore a violin-making school, a textile mill, the stock exchange, a university classroom, a symphony rehearsal, or a television station. Give a six-year-old the opportunity to ask the zookeeper, “How do they catch the animals without killing them?”
Errands can become field trips. Cooperative craftsmen, artists, merchants, and professionals are really quite easy to find. Let the children watch the mechanic change the oil or the shoemaker resole your shoes. Watch a carpenter work at a construction site.
A field trip need not damage the family budget. Field trips are not lengthy stays, but more of a go-see-taste-return experience. Pack a picnic or question the locals for the best food for the money in town. If you need to save up for a special outing, make it a family project.
Prepare children beforehand by reading about what is prompting the trip. Stimulate learning through questions. Before a visit to an architect, ask: “What do you think he does? Do you think he had special training?” Afterward, ask: “Tell me five things you thought were interesting. Would you like to do that? Why or why not?”
If possible, obtain literature that will expand the experience on your trip. You will be pleasantly surprised at the energy focused on literature brought home from field trips.
Record your memories. The experiences jump back to life with pictures and journal entries. Our field trips have not been without disasters. But even most of those, through a cushion of time, have become favorite family stories.
Give your children a new interest, a brighter understanding, a thirst for more knowledge. Encourage growth as a family, togetherness, memories. Take a family field trip!—William J. and Shelley L. Davies, Centerville, Utah