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Ideas for Turning Summer Activities into Educational Micro-Field Trips

3 min read
Unlike the more traditional field trip, like a day-long adventure to a zoo, museum or amusement park, micro-field trips are shorter, less expensive—and sometimes errand-accomplishing—outings.

Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean field trips have to wait for the fall. “Micro” field trips are a great way to get out of the house and shake up the routine. And for children with hearing loss, they offer a great way to transform some ordinary activities into fun opportunities to work on their language, speech and listening skills. 

What’s a Micro-Field Trip?

Unlike the more traditional field trip, like a day-long adventure to a zoo, museum or amusement park, micro-field trips are shorter, less expensive—and sometimes errand-accomplishing—outings.

Families and caregivers of preschool-aged children can create a micro-field trip out of just about any activity. An otherwise mundane trip to the grocery store, a neighborhood pool or splash pad, or even hanging out in the yard may not seem like much to an adult, but they can become micro-field trips as long as the caregiver involved makes it a meaningful learning experience.

Leverage Outside Time

With a little creativity, caregivers can transform seemingly ordinary activities into engaging language learning experiences.

The difference between errand running and a micro-field trip is making sure you build in ways to develop your child’s language skills. Take a typical summer afternoon outside, for example. This rather ordinary play experience can become a micro-field trip just by taking the time to discuss in age-appropriate ways all the things you’re seeing, smelling, hearing and feeling.

Depending on the child’s communication abilities, that might mean describing things like the buzzing of insects, the feel of grass underfoot, the temperature difference between the shade and a sunny spot, the colors of flowers, the different kinds of insects or talking about outdoor games to play.

By calling attention to and discussing your surroundings, an otherwise routine activity becomes a rich learning experience stuffed with new vocabulary and listening opportunities.

Make It Easy for Yourself

Because micro-field trips are low-effort and low-cost, caregivers can take one every day if they choose. The only limit is imagination. But that can also make them easy to overlook, especially for caregivers who may be juggling work, errands, childcare and more.

One way to ensure you get a variety of these trips in is to keep a list of ideas for outings. The list can be based on the child’s interests (like going to a dog park for an animal lover or the library for a budding reader) or you can seek out entirely new experiences, such as a visit to a hardware store or farmer’s market.  (See more ideas for outings here.)

Another way to maximize the value of these micro-field trips is to create themes. For example, you could do a themed week of outings to talk about different types of jobs or community helpers and on each day visit a fire station, a library, a grocery store, etc. Or do an animal-theme month and each week visit a dog park, a local lake and an animal shelter.

Extend the Learning

You can continue the language learning from each micro-field trip by pairing the outing with a discussion of a related book, movie or toy. For example, a child who recently visited an animal shelter might enjoy getting a book about different dog breeds; if they visited a train station, set up a toy train and talk about trains while you play together.

Involve the Child as Much as Possible

For an older child, during a visit to the grocery store, you could have them select an exotic fruit or vegetable and help them research at home or at the library (another potential outing!) to learn about where it grows or have them help prepare a dish using it.

With a little creativity, caregivers can transform seemingly ordinary activities into engaging language learning experiences and help children with hearing loss keep building strong listening and language skills. As a bonus, micro-field trips help build fun family memories in the process — without having to spend a lot of extra time or money.

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