September 2nd, 2020

Tiny Travels: Local Field Trips for Distance Learners

You can only stay cooped up so long with your classroom of distance learners before it’s time for a breakout session. I’m talking about a trip out into the community where you can pair your children’s online learning with some real, hands-on education at a place not so far from home.

Field trips have so many benefits and are even an antidote to having to experience so much education in a digital space. With a field trip, children can touch, hear, smell, see and experience the content of their education in a powerful, memorable way. And with many Oregon public schools going online exclusively for the Fall season, it’s a great time to explore your tiny world in a safe way.

Here are the Tiny Travelers’ favorite go-to spots for a family-led field trip:

Miller Woods

What: 130 acres where you can experience nature, and learn about forestry, wildlife, soils, watershed health, native plants, and the role of people in the landscape. 

Where: Just three miles off HWY 99W in McMinnville

Why go: The antidote to feelings of being stuck at home is found right here.

Subjects: Biology, natural history, conservation, environmental education

Lesson plan: Reservations are now required for visitors to prevent crowding in parking lot. Take the interpretive ⅓-mile trail called the Discovery Loop, or just walk around the property looking under the wildlife cover boards to see some critters underneath! 

Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum

What: A world-class aeronautics and space exploration museum housing historically significant aircraft including Howard Hughes’ famed Spruce Goose.

Where: On HWY 18 look for the airplane on the buildings

Why go: With ample space, wow-you exhibits and natural tie-in’s to learning, this is a must-visit.

Subjects: Engineering, astronomy, physics

Lesson plan: The museum’s school visits program is currently closed, but you can still take a guided tour daily at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., or a self-guided tours are available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Chachalu Museum

What: The arts and cultural museum of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde

Where: In Grand Ronde, about 30 minutes south of McMinnville 

Why go: This is a living culture museum, meaning that the objects you encounter here are taken off the walls and used in traditional tribal custom. A fantastic interpretive gallery shares the story of native people in Oregon.

Subjects: History, culture

Lesson plan: Prepare for your visit by visiting the museum’s online resources with curricula geared towards various school-age groups

Chehalem Cultural Center

What: Exhibitions, events, kids’ classes, studios

Where: The WPA-era building is located just off Newberg’s downtown in the city’s cultural district

Why go: A one-stop visual arts experience

Subjects: Art, art history, creativity

Lesson plan: Take a look at the current exhibition and talk about the art on display. Back at home, create some art as a response to what you saw.

Gallery Theater Performances in the Courtyard
What: Socially distanced performances at Thursdays in the Courtyard 

Where: 210 NE Ford 

Why go: In-theater performances are out right now, but the local theater is running a few more socially distanced outdoor performances this season. 

Prepare for your trip: Check out the schedule on Facebook and send an email to see if there is still room available for your group:

Wherever you go on your local field trip, don’t forget to pack your masks and call ahead to confirm your destination is open. You could even let them know you are coming and some of these places will help you make the most of your visit.

Emily Grosvenor is Editor of Oregon Home Magazine and head storyteller for #McMinnvilleDentist.  Follow her on Instagram @emilygrosvenor.