Fields Trips in a Large Family

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Since moving to Florida we have been taking quite a few field trips.  We are eager to see the sights of our home state – everything is new to us!  I have set aside each Friday as our go and do day.  

I have been thinking a lot about the logistics of going on field trips in a large family.  There are lots of things to love about a large family, but being agile and moving about quickly isn’t really one of them.  It often feels like herding cats, or trying to corral an out of control parade.
Pioneer Florida Museum & Village
Learning in action and experiencing something first hand is one of the best things about homeschooling.  It’s often what really sets apart our education from that of a traditional brick and mortar school.  It is worth it to make the effort for field trips, though it doesn’t necessarily make them any easier!

As my children are getting older, field trips are getting easier.  I’m no longer carrying around sippy cups, diaper bags and pushing multiple children in a stroller.  Although now everyone just needs to go to the bathroom every 5.2 seconds and someone is always on the brink of dehydration and/or starvation.  But, still, we have entered into a different season.

There are a few things I have learned along the way in my career as mom to many:
South Florida Museum

Large Family Field Trip Tips:

1.  Plan the Trip for after Lunch – Instead of feeling like you need to rush out the door first thing, plan to start your trip after lunch.  Making lunch to feed an army and then transporting said lunch all over tarnation only for the kids to be too busy to eat? No thanks.  Eat a quick lunch at home and then be on the way.  Perhaps younger kids will then nap on the way to the field trip destination.

2.  Organize the Night Before – Do as much as possible the night before, make sandwiches, fill up water bottles and store in the fridge, locate the cooler/bag, fill the car up with the stroller and make sure the diaper bag is ready to go.

3. Use Cloth Napkins and Tablecloth – Not to be fancy, but just to be practical.  Cloth napkins don’t blow around like paper napkins do and a tablecloth is nice to cover up dirty tables.  I usually leave a clean tablecloth and napkins in my lunch bag that I use to tote lunches.  Don’t forget to leave a bag of baby wipes in the lunch tote to clean up sticky fingers before and after eating!

My best tip of all:

4.  Don’t Feel Obligated – There is a season for everything.  Don’t feel that you have to participate in every field trip under the sun.  Don’t make yourself crazy trying to see and do everything when a majority of your family is still fairly young.  Often times going to the park with a couple of friends is enough of an adventure for the week.

What is your favorite field trip tip?

Here are a few of my must have items for a field trip outing: Widgets


  1. Adrienne Bolton says

    These are excellent tips! I only have two, but I’m always in awe of how moms of large families keep it together on a field trip! 😉

  2. The Carmelite says

    “Learning in action and experiencing something first hand is one of the best things about homeschooling”…it’s also one of the best ways to learn — to be able to put things into context…to see how the others live, where we come from. As a teacher I wish schools would go back to more field trips. I find that students who get to do real life hands-on things do far better in school for they have something to relate it to. The field-trips needn’t be far at all: nursing homes, play-dates with other cultural groups, factories to see how things are made, etc. Even helping out around the house with everyday affairs or getting involved with projects such as painting a den or making dozens of cookies to give away has tremendous merit. Its why bands and gymnastics and the arts are important in schools — they really do increase brain power.

  3. Thanks Dad says

    My father would often say, as we left the house finally in our huge stationwagon….”Off we go, like a herd of turtles!” Now I do that, understanding it SO much deeper.

  4. Jaime says

    I do the same thing! We usually do our outings after lunch for that very reason (plus there’s less school groups and babies : )
    I have four, currently ages, 4, 5, 8 and 11.

  5. Christine Smith says

    I know this is an older post but I came from a newer one :)
    We also have six kids and our field trips often go through lunch, planned that way. I used to pack a large cooler too and it got to be kind of a lot. Last summer, the light went on at the beginning of beach season – they can ALL take care of their own gear!! At that time, the youngest were 6,8,10 and 12. It did not take a lot of time and effort to train them to pack their own backpacks with their wanted beach gear, including a snack and water bottle! They had all actually gone to public school for a while (that’s a different story) and were used to the idea of a snack, water bottle and the things they needed to go outdoors with. For a while, they needed reminders or written lists. Sometimes, they still say, I think I’m ready mom, can you check me? and we’ll just verbally go through their list. This past week we went adventuring along the Mississippi River. Before we left, each girl made her lunch and snacks. It was a bit of a group effort – one girl wanted carrots so I asked her to bag up 4 more packs too. Same happened with a few other items. We were able to find a great picnic spot and everyone had what they wanted. I only carried MY lunch (which I had to make separately anyway for gluten intolerance), water bottle, bug spray and camera. They had their cameras/ipads/notebooks and what they wanted for the trip. We do this every time we go anywhere. While we were in training, I would usually had an extra water bottle, snack and encouragement for someone who forgot something. This has lightened my load considerably and helps them learn a lot – how to dress for the weather, what to plan for on a trip, how to organize their gear and lots more. I hope this helps you!

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