Sometimes you just can’t physically get to where you want to go! But sometimes you can still go there virtually. Which is awesome.
When we were studying the Revolutionary War it was impossible for us to take a 2 month vacation/field trip over to the east coast and see all the sites. *sigh* Someday, right? But even though we couldn’t physically go there which would have been the ideal, there were a number of things we could “visit” online. Some sites are awesome and you can actually take a virtual tour. Others are nice and you can see photos or maps of different artifacts or items there – this isn’t my favorite option because how is that really any different than a book? I guess maybe the novelty of doing it online? (For future reference the Monticello website is fun – virtual tour here – and the Plimoth Plantation has great virtual field trip videos too for Thanksgiving or just early American history.) Seriously, if there is anything too far away to go see, just google said place with virtual tour and see what you can come up with – maybe place a few parental controls on your computer first. Sadly, you never know.
By far – so far -the BEST virtual field trip we have done was this last week during our limited tour of Utah. It has to be limited because we’ve got other things to do, too! Ever since I’ve heard about the Kennecott Copper Mines I have wanted to go there (I only heard about them maybe 5 years ago. Definitely NOT a Utah native!) But after a major landslide or explosion (or most likely both) a few years back, visitors are no longer allowed. To compensate for not being able to go visit the largest man made hole in the world visible from space (this is only cool to some, mind you, as I learned trying to find photos of the pit from space) they have created an EXCELLENT virtual tour. It really is very good.
Now if you are thinking, Wait! If we don’t actually GO anywhere, won’t my kids miss out on the opportunity of getting tired and annoyed with each other, sitting in the car for long periods of time, being hot and bored (yes, sometimes on tours this does happen for those littles) and hungry and having to go to the bathroom at the most inopportune moments? Well, yes and no. Many of those most unpleasant events will be missed. However, if you plan it just right by NOT having wifi AND a long enough cable to hook up your laptop to your TV, be assured you are in prime position to have a “his head is in my way” meltdown. If you are lucky, the meltdown may start a series of other just as unpleasant destructive reactions from the other children. And when the meltdown/firestorm/earthquake does begin you will have your opportunity to, in a firm and serious yet not yelling sort of way, let your children plainly know that there is ample room for all three little bodies to fit. The screen, though small, is surely big enough, and if we really need to we can all take turns. Now be quiet and listen to the tour guide tell you about smelting! This is really important for your everyday wellbeing people!!!
If I were you, I would seriously look in to the virtual field trips. In all honestly, they are wonderful. If you have any virtual tours you have taken that you have really enjoyed, I would love to hear about them in the comments. Budgets may restrict us to certain geographical areas but we pretty much all have the internet – or a library with access – so really, we can go just about anywhere.