Planning field trips for my kids is possibly the best part of homeschooling! I love travel, so I love the opportunity to plan trips that either go along with our yearly topics, or just allow us to explore places, ideas, and learning! One of our favorite annual experiences is a homeschool field trip to The Big E in Massachusetts!
Last year I wrote about my Top 10 Family Fun Activities at The Big E. This year I focus on what a homeschool family can get out of a trip to this multi-state fair (there’s nothing QUITE like it!)
Plan a Homeschool Field Trip to The Big E!
You might be thinking: “What can you learn at a fair!?” Well, what CAN’T you learn!? There are many avenues of learning to explore at any local or state fair, but The Big E has some special aspects that expand the opportunities for learning. You really can homeschool at The Big E!
And, in case you’d like to follow suit, The Big E is only open for seventeen days total (Sept 13-29, 2019), so get planning! Visit their site and look at Things to Do, specifically the daily Agricultural events schedule.
TIP: Check out the Fair map to plan a general route, otherwise you waste valuable time criss-crossing the extensive fairgrounds several times (it’s doable, but can get tiring with small children). We take a circuitous route counter-clockwise from the State Buildings, to the Stroh (aka Farm-A-Rama) building, on to the Mallory building (butter sculpture and sheep shearing), double back a little to the Midway rides, then over to the Big Slide. From there we wander through the vendors in the Better Living building, and head to Storrowtown Village for demos and to watch the 5 o’clock parade.
Ways to Homeschool at The Big E
Geography: The State Buildings
I’m pretty sure in nearly every child’s education there’s an elementary year dedicated to learning about your student’s home state. Perhaps you do this every year, or maybe it’s only at certain grades. Either way, the State Buildings on the Avenue of the States are a wonderful way to get a feel for what’s available in your state, and all the other New England states.
The buildings themselves are gorgeous and lovely for photo ops. (Did you know, each state OWNS the land their building sits on? So you are literally visiting EVERY state in New England as you walk through!). You can pick up brochures for travel, museums, and more. Visit many local crafters and eateries from each state.
Talk to locals about what they love about their state, and take photos at the many selfie stations, like Massachusetts awesome Dr. Seuss corridor this year. Every year the State Buildings feature different exhibits so it’s worth a tour through each and every time you go to The Big E.
History: Learn about Early American Life
At Storrowtown Village, tour several authentic early American buildings that have been transported and reassembled permanently on the Fairgrounds. Hosts in period dress will walk you through a one-room schoolhouse, a forge, a wealthy captain’s house, and more. You’ll learn tidbits like how teachers handled behavior problems. Or that wealthy people could afford wallpaper with larger pictures on it! The town green has several activities throughout the day like early American games, and demonstrations by tinsmiths and glassblowers. (Again, these change year by year).
Handicrafts a la Charlotte Mason
We loosely follow a Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling. One aspect of this is handicrafts. I love exploring the many craft booths throughout the fair. I get ideas for how I can teach crafts to the kids at home. And the boys learn many types of crafting. We always leave with ideas for our handicraft time at home. You can even buy crafts and crafting kits and supplies at the fair, too!
Math: Budgeting skills
The opportunities to practice maths abound at The Big E. You could study the geometry shapes of the buildings. In advance of your trip, you can have kids plan a time budget for each activity at the fair. Or give each child a monetary budget to spend. I loved buying my boys ride tickets for the Midway and helping them figure out how to “spend” their ticket allowance (10 tickets each!) on the various rides to end up with no extra tickets.
Another fine skill to develop with young chilren, is grabbing a map of the Fair and having them figure out how to get from one building or activity to the next. Map reading is a dying skill in our world of GPS, but let me tell you, so far as I know, there is NOT a GPS map of The Big E (I could be wrong! ha!).
Science: Biology, botany, agriculture
Really there’s no better place to get excited about animal life, plants, and agriculture than The Big E. With so many hands-on exhibits in buildings like Farm-A-Rama (hatching eggs, ducking ducks, cavorting goats, giant pumpkins), or demonstrations of sheep-shearing and other animal husbandry skills from actual farmers and craftspeople, kids get up-close-and-personal with science! Talk to experts about their way of life, what’s needed to succeed in agribusiness. We adore watching the sheep-shearing demo each year by a professional sheep shearer!
More homeschool at The Big E ideas
You could probably come up with learning activities by the hundreds at a huge fair like The Big E. Planning, scheduling, all the shows, demos, and activities. The list would go on and on. Plus, The Big E offers educator tips and printable worksheets to help kids explore more of The Big E (they are more like fun worksheets, not real lesson plans, but still can come in handy!).
Social skill learning opportunities abound! Learning to get along. Interacting with other people. Learning to wait, take turns, think of others. Order food. Buy products (counting money!). Exploring new foods (not just cotton candy!).
And nothing beats family fun together at The Big E! Family time learning together IS the essence of homeschooling after all. So for a wonderful family time, plan a homeschool field trip to The Big E!
DISCLOSURE: I was given a press pass and parking pass to facilitate this trip to The Big E. No additional compensation was given. All opinions are my own.