Monday, February 15

How to Get the Most Out of Virtual Museums & Field Trips for the Upper Grades

Virtual museums are such a fun tool to use in your homeschool. They are perfect through the winter months or anytime your homeschool family wants to enjoy a world-class museum without the crowds, or overwhelm that in-person museum field trips may cause.

As students transition from the elementary grades into middle and high school. Virtual museums fill a much needed academic requirement for labs, research reports, and ‘hands-on’ learning from home. With the right resources, virtual museums can inspire your homeschool family to use the world as your classroom for exciting upper-grade learning options.

The most important key to a virtual field trip is figuring out how to keep your student engaged in learning. Below are a few tips to help you transition into the upper grades using virtual museums and field trips as a companion learning tool in your homeschool.

Virtual Field Trips For Middle Schoolers

For your middle schoolers, think about how to keep the field trip engaging and a little bit more challenging than what you might do for younger kids. Keep your middle schoolers focused by asking guided questions. Below you will find a few to get you started. Additionally, give them an opportunity to think out loud and process what they are learning. More detailed scavenger hunts, such as animals in artwork (for an art museum tour) can keep middle school kids on their toes and really having fun.

Virtual Field Trips for Career or College Minded High Schoolers

When you are working with high school students, the goal should be to create virtual field trip opportunities that allow them to deep dive into a specific subject. Keep in mind that high schoolers may be very focused on a specific career or academic path. You will want to choose your virtual field trip destination based on their focus. Choose a topic that is specific to a vocation, academic goal, class, or will help them prepare for an important exam like an SAT or university entrance exam.

Virtual museums or field trips can help your high schooler in their research for a senior thesis or senior project. If your upper grades homeschooler is focusing more on a specific vocation, find virtual field trips that explore career paths or jobs that involve technical training. Pick specific activities that will allow your student to become more familiar with an area that interests them.

Take Time for Questions

With your middle and high school students you're going to want to take extra time for discussion. Talk about:

  • The results or outcomes of the field trip.
  • What did they know before they went on the field trip? What did they learn?
  • What new insights can they take from the experience and apply to daily life?
  • What connections can be made between anything at the field trip with other aspects or topics they're learning about?
  • What was the most interesting or fun? Why?
  • What else would they like to learn about this topic?

The beauty of virtual field trips is that you're able to stop and pause for a moment to answer questions and discuss a topic in more detail before you move on. That's not always the case during an in-person field trip where the tour guide may have a specific topic or time frame in which to get completed.

The Best Virtual Museums For Homeschoolers

There are definitely some amazing virtual field trips and museums out there. Online learning has revolutionized the ability to go anywhere digitally and have fun learning. However, there are some that are more conducive to learning as homeschoolers that want more than just browsing through digital galleries mindlessly.

The list of top museums around the world for homeschoolers continues to expand. Those that are well-suited for active learning from the comfort of home and offer a variety of resources that will make your virtual field trip exciting and memorable are the perfect ones on which to focus.

So what is the best way to get the most out of your next virtual field trip?

The key is to keep engagement high. Here are a few tips.

  1. Use resources that correspond with the museum tour such as unit studies of specific galleries or topical scavenger hunts or art studies.
  2. Engage in interactive learning and discussions by choosing topics that are fun for the age group or are specific to a class subject currently being studied.
  3. Use virtual museum notebooking and journaling pages to capture the activity and help create a routine of enjoying virtual field trips regularly.

Have fun adding virtual museums to your homeschool routine.

Planning a Virtual Field Trip for The Upper Grades

Before your virtual field trip, you will want to remind your homeschooler what they already know about the topic. Grab a learning resource used previously and discuss the concepts and principles of the subject. This will help trigger their brains to remember a few things about the topic.

During the virtual field trip. Take your time, stay on topic, and pause to answer questions along the way. The basic Who? What? When? Where? and Why? questions can be expanded on to initiate some really interesting discussions as you learn together. For more independent virtual field trips consider a virtual museum unit study for the topic or museum you are exploring.

After the field trip, take time to debrief. Step away from the computer, if possible, and engage in some type of response to the field trip. That may be an art project, an essay comparing or contrasting different aspects of the topic, or even a lab report, timeline, or research paper. These last few ideas are perfect for high schoolers doing virtual/simulated science labs, deep-diving into history, or creating a senior thesis or research project.

Having the right resources for your virtual field trip for middle & high school students is essential to making virtual learning fun and getting the most out of what virtual museums have to offer homeschooled tweens and teens.

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Shannan shares her passion for helping others use the world as their classroom at Captivating Compass. Her home base is in Scotland, where she home educates and learns on location throughout Europe as much as possible. She creates digital curricula that promote a broad worldview through creative learning and family travel experiences (in-person & virtually).

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