Field Trips and Activities around Austin

We still discover new places to explore here in Austin. As a homeschool family, we look for experiences that facilitate fun learning and memories. The following have been a few favorites this last semester:

Toyota Tundra Factory – We had a front row trolley-like seat to the entire assembly line production.  I was amazed as I watched the cab carried and lowered onto the bed and each piece carefully attached and inspected along the way.

Curtain Theatre – We visited this Globe-like theatre built for the Baron’s Men for a one-hour introduction to Shakespeare and his plays.  We toured backstage and watched actors perform a few scenes from Romeo and Juliet.  The best part, however, from the kids’ perspective was the Elizabethan village on the same grounds with a castle-like fort, huge wooden ship, gigantic swing, and another amazing set of hammock-like swings operated by spinning the middle wheel around.  Perfect place for hours of imaginative play!

Novellas Farm and Schoolhouse – After reading Farm Boy, Understood Betsy, and Magic School Bus in a Beehive, I started looking for some hands-on experiences for milking cows, making butter, and watching bees.  Amy Kirk has a series of farm mornings which were perfectly suited for the task.  The kids were able to engage in the entire process of making butter and ice cream and get closer to a beehive than I’d ever dreamed of in my life.

LCRA Redbud Nature Center – This is a repeatable favorite spot.  With hands-on interaction with model dam systems, the kids gain a better understanding of the Colorado River system and various uses of water power.  This year we also focused on learning the various types of trees which are all nicely labeled on their property!

Blanton  Art Museum – Gabe and I had the privilege of visiting a professor friend, Kevin Foster‘s lecture at UT on critical thinking as part of his Intro to African-American Studies class.  On the way, we just had to peek into the Blanton.  A beautiful gem of a place here on UT’s campus.  We look forward to the upcoming exhibits in 2012!

Chess Club – This has become a regular “field trip” the past couple years.  The boys enjoy 4 intense rounds of chess matches, accompanied by playground breaks with “ultimate tag,” etc. I enjoy hanging out with other fascinating homeschool moms!  Dues are $15/year plus $1 facility fee per visit.

Little Helping Hands – We all LOVE volunteering with this organization!  Marisa has done the legwork of coordinating relationships with non-profits all over Austin.  We sign-up twice a month for various activities at places like Ronald McDonald House, Caritas, and Hope Food Pantry. The kids have invaluable experiences that allow them to give of themselves in tangible ways.

Mozart’s Magical Flute – One of our most memorable night this year!  We had learned all about Mozart this semester and were excited to attend the kids’ first opera and a performance at the Long Center.  My son has been humming the Queen of the Night’s Aria ever since! (on video, skip to 2:00 to hear his favorite part)

Elgin Christmas Tree Farm – And Pumpkin Patch!  The kids enjoyed a hay-ride, corn maze, jump rope challenge, tether ball, potato sack race, etc.  A perfect fall holiday fieldtrip.

Austin Gem and Mineral Show – This event is held every October at the Palmer Events Center.  My kids loved “digging for rocks” and my rock-lover girl just couldn’t get enough of every table overflowing with gems, stones, jewelry, etc.

What are some of your favorite spots and field trips around the area?  Please comment below!

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