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Simple Career Awareness Activities and Resources for Kids

By: Kate Fuchs
Expand Your Child's Career Awareness

Ask first-graders, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and you'll get a list limited only by their imaginations: princess, pirate, doctor, teacher, police detective. Over time, they'll usually narrow the list, influenced largely by careers encountered through family, friends, school, and the media.

As parents, Learning Coaches, and teachers, we need to consciously expose our children to careers that may lie outside our own experience. How do we do that? Well, it's easier than you might think!

Online Career Awareness Resources: Making Career Exploration Fun

For elementary and middle school students, interactive online games are a great way to have fun while exploring traditional and nontraditional careers.

  1. Drive of your life, an interactive game from the Indiana Youth Institute, lets students custom-design their own car by answering questions about their personal interests, getting a list of careers that match those interests, and then "taking a drive" through each of those careers. Along the way, they meet real people via video working in those careers—learning about daily work life and the skills and education required.

  2. Kidswork, from South Carolina's public education station ETV, digs a little deeper into the inner workings for a range of careers. Choosing any business in ETV's cartoon town, students can watch short video interviews with the people who work there; perform related job tasks; and learn some of the history behind various fields.

    While maintaining its fun factor, Kidswork is great for connecting classroom skills to real-world jobs ...

Ideas for Field Trips Across the United States

By: Dan Reiner
ideas for field trips across the United States

Across the United States, the weather is improving and spring here. Get ready to take advantage of spring (or summer) break by planning a family field trip!

There are many spring field trip ideas  you can try if you’d like to go somewhere nearby, but if you want to do something special, consider going a little farther and visit a prominent museum, park, or other big landmark. Take a look at our list of field trip ideas throughout the five regions of the United States.

Field Trips in the Northeast

The Liberty Bell Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. See the bell that has symbolized freedom in the United States for over 200 years.

Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Use the official field trip planner to organize your trip to the park’s Museum and Visitor Center, battlegrounds, and Soldiers’ National Cemetery.

Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Explore exhibits, from Roboworld™ to the USS Requin submarine, that fit your family’s interests.

Ellis Island in New York City, New York. Take a boat ride and see the nation’s historical entryway—and the Statue of Liberty—up close.

America on Wheels in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Visit this museum to learn about the history of transportation.

Field Trips in the Southeast

Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia. Meet over 100,000 animals, including dolphins, sharks, and otters, as you walk through over 60 exhibits.

LEGOLAND® Discovery Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Take your family to this indoor attraction that features models and attractions inspired by the Lego ...

Make Vacation Fun with Pop Culture and History Adventures

By: Tracy Ostwald-Kowald
Route 66 Road Sign: Pop Culture and History Road Trip Ideas

Not surprisingly, most kids think what teachers and parents call “summer learning” is best when it’s disguised as fun. Luckily, there are many ways to discover new things and share teachable moments while enjoying family adventures. This summer, as you strive to keep your children’s minds active, try using trivia and pop culture to take history out of the textbook and onto the road. Chances are, you will find ideas for fantastic family field trips and opportunities for exploration right in your own “backyard”!

Local Pop Culture Shrines

You can start by searching online to see if your home state or city has a tourism website. Or, for something out of the ordinary, check out Roadside America, where you can look up the location of the World’s Largest Lemon and map a tour of Giant Muffler Men!

My own hometown, Appleton, Wisconsin, is legendary because of its most renowned resident, Harry Houdini. One story recounts the day a bashful rookie reporter named Edna Ferber interviewed the already-famous magician at the local lunch counter. As they talked, he leaned against the Coke machine in a pose that showed off his muscular physique. Afterward, he presented Ferber with a souvenir: the padlock he’d removed from the Coke machine. Although Houdini Plaza is under construction now, the Metamorphosis sculpture honoring Harry’s signature illusion will soon return to its rightful place in the center of my town.

Across the nation, small towns and big cities alike brim with opportunities to delve ...

Spring Field Trip Ideas for Virtual School Students

By: Beth Werrell
Spring Field Trip Ideas

Everyone is eager to leave the house and enjoy the outdoors when spring arrives. Winter weather keeps everyone inside and sometimes prevents us from traveling far, making spring even more welcome—especially to virtual school students, who learn and play at home. You and your student, however, can get out and learn beyond the virtual classroom by going on a spring field trip.

To explore your options, check out this list of spring field trip ideas. The list is organized by spring-related themes to help you decide what subject you want your trip to focus on.

Plant Life Field Trips

Spring plays a significant role in the life cycle of plants. Investigate spring plant growth and reproduction by visiting one of the following places:

  • A botanical garden
  • An arboretum (Check when Arbor Day is scheduled in your state!)
  • A greenhouse
  • A plant nursery
  • A flower garden or plantation
  • A bulb farm
  • A produce farm
  • A local park or nature reserve (Take a hike and identify new plant growth)
  • A local flower market or festival
  • A florist
  • A grocery store
  • An agriculture program department if one is offered at a local university

Make the most your visit by calling ahead. Ask to speak to an owner or manager to see if anyone is willing to give you a tour or grant you an interview.

Baby Animal Field Trips

If your student is interested in animals, take a field trip to learn more about the reproduction and parenting of wildlife. Plan a ...

Branching Out: Learn All About Trees!

By: Dan Reiner

family holding little tree in palm of handsAs we wrap up the school year, the amazing team at our Pennsylvania cyber school Commonwealth Connections Academy has planned another fantastic field trip—and it’s open to the public! The school’s Mobile Classroom will be planted at the Galeton Public Library on Saturday, May 26, from noon to 2:00 p.m. for “TREES, TREES, TREES!” an exciting science and environmental program for kids.

Rangers from the state’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will be teaching us about the life cycle of trees, and the important role trees play in ecology and economy. Students will also receive a free sapling to plant at home! Families in Pennsylvania that wish to attend can register for the event online or check the cyber school’s Mobile Classroom schedule for upcoming events across the state of Pennsylvania.

If you live in another area of the country, why not host your own special tree party? Select a well-wooded area, maybe a state park, and invite a few other families to join you. (Be sure to pack bug spray and plenty of bottled water!) Plan a hike that’s not too difficult for the youngest members of your group, and equip kids with bags for collecting various types of leaves along the way. To avoid poison ivy, parents may want to supervise closely.

After your hike, head home for a picnic lunch, then use the leaves (and websites or library books) to help kids identify what kind of trees grow in your area. To ...

Watch a Virtual School Day Unfold

By: Carrie Jean Ross

Walk into the lives of a virtual school family! Meet Mindy, Bob and their three children and see how this busy Connections Academy family enjoys the flexibility of online school. I'd love to know what Emma and her teacher, Mr. Jackson are joking around about at the 3:52 mark.

Kudos to the Brems family for sharing! How does virtual school benefit your family?

A Virtual School Tour

By: Michelle Mueller

My name is Michelle Mueller and I am currently the principal of Wisconsin Connections Academy (WCA), Wisconsin’s first virtual school (and one of the first Connections Academy schools) that opened in 2002. Over the years many people have asked me if Connections Academy would be a good school for their child. What will the experience be like? Can he really learn without being in a traditional classroom? It’s never a simple answer, because students come to Connections Academy for so many reasons. So, how can you know if virtual schooling is for you? One way to help learn about a virtual school is to visit one. Since I can’t transport you to WCA’s offices, let me take you on a virtual tour.

Michelle Mueller, Wisconsin Connection Academy Principal

Wisconsin Connnections Academy operates from a central office in Appleton, Wisconsin, though we serve students throughout the state. When you walk through the doors the first thing you see are teachers working with their students. But instead of being at the front of a room full of kids, they are at their desks instructing students by phone, email, and in online classrooms.

Peek into the elementary classroom. That's Mrs. Yahnke, one of our kindergarten teachers, doing a letter and sound assessment. Over there is Mrs. Kammer, the third grade teacher, reading with Matt, one of her students. Matt enrolled in WCA because he suffered from migraines that made him miss school regularly. As a result, he really struggled to keep up with his academics. At our school, ...

Answering the Socialization Question

By: Carrie Jean Ross

Over the years I have discovered that some advantages of virtual learning are easier for people to grasp than others. Personalized learning, challenging and diverse curriculum, specialized teachers, and alternative scheduling—most people can understand these benefits. The socialization factor, however, draws many blank stares and more questions.

It's not uncommon to be in a store in the middle of a weekday afternoon with my children (especially when my children were younger) and suddenly find ourselves faced with a barrage of questions from a curious (but friendly) sales clerk. After the initial curiosity is addressed as to why the kids aren't in school, other questions like "What do you do all day?" "Do you work in your pajamas?" “How do you manage to socialize with your classmates?" and "Do you have friends?" will keep coming at us. I watch my kids take a deep breath, smile and proceed to describe the details of their virtual schooling life to anyone who asks. Naturally, I'm glowing the whole time, because the simple fact that they can converse like this with anyone reminds me that they are growing into well socialized young adults. 
Virtual School Friends

The reality is that patterns of socialization for virtual learners are not so different from those in a traditional school. Do my kids ever miss the activities in a traditional school setting? Of course they do, but there are many things my kids have been able to do in a virtual school that they would have missed in a traditional bricks ...