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Field Trip Fridays

April 20th, 2012

Often in our homeschool as we head into these last weeks we are wrapping up our books and regular requirements in most subjects. As a result, we find ourselves with some extra time to enjoy the activities that are abundant in this area and the weather often allows us a chance to get out of doors as well.

This begins what will hopefully be a new feature here. Not every week, but a couple times a month on Friday I will share some of our experiences with field trips in the Chicago area with tips on setting up your own.

To kick it off, lets start with a place that we just visited recently, Cantigny in Wheaton (but I always think of it as in Winfield . . .)

What you will find there:

Cantigny offers two museums including a house open for touring and a museum centered around the First Division. They also have beautiful grounds that are beginning to bloom. They are beautiful in each season, especially if you have nature lovers in your group.

We are currently studying the American Revolution and they had a great sample of a revolutionary soldier and various artifacts on display to help my kids really visualize all of what we have been learning, reading about, and discussing lately. If you are studying more recent American history you will find even more to complement your studies, but even going back to the beginning of our nation you will find something.

The Tanks! It’s what I remember from childhood visits, and it’s what my kids look forward to on each return trip as well. Whether they are imagining they are a soldier on a mission of their own, or pretending it is a hideout, or just climbing for the sake of climbing, the tanks are a big draw for kids of all ages. Of course, climb at your own risk, and be careful. These are real tanks. You will want to pick a day with decent weather so you can get a good climb in.

Classes and tours. You are free to roam the grounds and enjoy the signs, information, and displays on your own time and with your own focus, or you can sign up for a field trip or one of their many classes. They offer homeschool classes periodically (look for these to start up again in the fall) for additional fees. They cover various subjects including art, science, nature study, and history. See their calendar of events on their website for more details.

If you are going:

The grounds do have a per vehicle fee, but if you go to your library you can use your card to get a Museum Adventure Pass and get in for free. We chose this option and it was quick and easy and saved us $5.

There are often school groups touring as well. However, we found them fairly easy to avoid so we could enjoy the museums, tanks, and walkways without a crowd.

Cantigny Park Hours:

Feb: Fri-Sun, 9am to Sunset*
Mar-Apr: 9am to Sunset*
May-Oct: 7am to Sunset*
Nov-Dec: 9am to Sunset*

*The in-bound park gate closes one hour prior to sunset.

1S151 Winfield Road
Wheaton, IL 60189
630.668.5161

Cantigny offers a great field trip destination for a mixed age group. Lots of run around space and climbing action, and then opportunities to settle in and really learn from the informative and high quality displays throughout the facilities. My younger kids were a little scared at first of the First Division Museum displays. It is dark and has war sounds in the background. They are really well done though, and you learn so much on your walk through. If you need to split your group to enjoy it, do so, but kids of all ages can really learn quite a bit from the walk through.

And, be sure to bring your picnic lunch to enjoy at their tables near the parking area. We had a full, fun morning packed with new learning opportunities and conversation prompts. Definitely a field trip destination for every couple years or so.

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