Pack “Learning Made Fun” into a Family Field Trip!
August 15, 2016
Besides a snow day, what is a kid’s favorite day at school? I’ve never seen a survey but I’m willing
to bet it’s field trip day! When I was a kid, I never associated these days with learning. Instead I thought of them as a fun adventure that we got to take to an apple orchard, pumpkin patch or Christmas tree farm. It was so exciting to travel to places that we had never before seen, experiencing things we’d never before done.
Why not capture that energy and excitement during a family day trip? There are so many opportunities to teach your kids about Iowa history and culture. One of the best opportunities for learning disguised as fun is the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines.
There are many things you can see and do, but in my opinion, the secret to a great day at the fair is a little pre-planning! When my kids were small, we’d show up early while the temperatures are still cool and the crowds are light. (I’d park in general parking off University Avenue, which I believe is Gate 15. Click here for a fairgrounds map.)
We’d start our day at the top of the hill with a visit to the butterfly gardens, followed by a walk through Little Hands on the Farm. (Kids get to pick out a snack at the end of this “farm visit,” so I found it was a great way to get a FREE mid-morning snack to tide my kids over to lunch time.) Just a short walk from Little Hands on the Farm, you’ll find the Animal Learning Center where newborn animals are on display.
After exiting the Animal Learning Center, take a right onto Grand Avenue (a.k.a. the Concourse). Walk to the Varied Industries and enter from the south atrium where you’ll find the most amazing sand sculpture!
Greg and Brandi Glenn, co-owners of Sandscapes®, are transforming more than 50 tons of sand into a display of animals, food and people, and participate in numerous activities for a chance to win prizes. (Follow @foodnfamilies on Snapchat for the daily progress on the sand sculpture plus other fair happenings!) The finished sand sculpture will showcase Iowa farmers’ dedication to growing food sustainably and connecting the many ways farming contributes to our state.
When I return to the Iowa State Fair this Wednesday and Thursday, you can bet I’ll be planning my next meal. I also plan to work at the Iowa Food & Family Project’s Sand Sculpture exhibit, so perhaps I’ll see you there!
P.S. If you’d like to experience modern farming a little closer to home, sign up for the IFFP’s FREE “Expedition Farm Country” on Aug. 25-26. I’ll be hosting one of the stops where we’ll show how drones can help farmers see what’s happening in their farm fields. Then we’ll eat a farm to table supper in Clear Lake, where we’ll also enjoy Thursdays on Main. The following day we’ll visit some of the most beautiful farms in North Iowa, including New Day Dairy.
If you’re interested in participating in this two-day tour, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Simply state why you’d like to embark on the farm tour!
Photo credit to Joe Murphy with the Iowa Soybean Association.