A Homeschool Field Trip to Chicago’s Field Museum

Day 1 of our Super Chicago Field Trip found us at the amazing Field Museum. We decided to do the Field Museum first mostly because we were tiring of Mowgli asking 10 times each day when we were going to go see Sue the T-Rex.  (That’s the downside of preparing the kids for what they are going to see, learn or do on the upcoming field trip.)

chicago 015 - SUE the TREX

There is a lot going on at the Field Museum!  There is a wealth of information about their exhibits available on the website.  It was very helpful for me to choose a few “must see” exhibits ahead of time for each child. I find that by doing so, the kids each get to see what most interests them. (Although I admit sometimes I am surprised at what exhibit they really enjoy, but I guess that’s the whole point, right?) It also allows me to relax and enjoy the experience more since I’m not so worried that we are going to “miss something.”  This Family Highlights Tour Guide covers several exhibits that we really enjoyed.

The Field Museum is great for exploring and thinking. Sunshine brought along a clip board and just really took her time with each exhibit, looking, listening and asking questions. I love that there is a lot of open space at the Field Museum. You can move from one area to the next without feeling like you are in someone’s way. In addition to the official exhibits, there are many “mini exhibits” along the way. As you are walking down a corridor your attention may be drawn to an interesting statue along the wall… and since there is open space not only can you see the statue but there is room to get to it to look at it more closely.

CHICAGO SOUND LAB

For the 6 and under crowd (and mom) the Crown Family PlayLab is a gem!  We were lucky enough to have the entire area almost to ourselves. There were only 5 or 6 other families in the Play Lab……however outside the main desk area were at least 100 preschoolers lined up to board school buses.  My recommendation…save the PlayLab for later in the day. (say 2:00ish) By this time of day my little ones have exhausted all of their self control trying to be relatively still and quiet while we looked at other exhibits. They are now ready to release some energy with some serious hands on activities and the Play lab is the perfect place to do so. Some of the areas in the Crown Play Lab include a Woodland discovery and dress up area, an art studio, an Amazing sound lab, a dinosaur dig and the Pawnee Earth Lodge. By the end of our visit to the PlayLab, (which also was the conclusion of our visit to The Field Museum) the little ones were ready to sit down in the reading area and explore their extensive collection of dinosaur books.  Who knew Sue the T-Rex had her own book?

The Highlights:

I asked each child which exhibit they most enjoyed and why.  Here are their answers.

Sunshine (10):  “I liked the Ancient Americans exhibit because I learned how the woman’s clothing told  the story of her life.”

Rose (5): “The Animals because they were really neat” ( Translation: The Nature Walk and Wild Animals Up Close.  We experienced this exhibit in its entirety twice, once to greet each animal and again to bid them farewell.)

Mowgli (3):  “Sue the T-Rex…..I a Dinosaur…Rrrrrrrrrr!”

Tips for Homeschoolers – Getting the most out of your field trip – I wasn’t able to locate much specific to homeschoolers on the website but when we arrived I spoke to someone at the membership desk who was happy to offer me brochures with additional information about many of their exhibits as well as a copy of the last few issues of In the Field, their member magazine.  The best resource is by far their website.  You will find so many interesting photos, videos and links on the website you will be amazed!

Money Saving Tip: Parking at the Field Museum lot is $19.00 for the first 4 hours, but if you park on the street, parking is only $2.00/ hour, if I recall. (Have your plastic ready… these meters don’t accept cash… yes crazy I know…don’t get me started!)

Sanity Saving Tip: We were at the Field Museum on a Thursday, which was awesome since I didn’t realize that the Crown Family PlayLab is only open Thursday – Monday. You don’t want to miss it!

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