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IT'S TIME FOR A FIELD TRIP!

If your children are now “distance learning,” why not take them on a field trip like they have never had before. With the classroom now just a zoom call away, all you need is a good internet connection and school can be done from almost anywhere. So take advantage of not being tethered to a brick-and-mortar school and take the classroom on the road using hotel wi-fi to log in while heading outdoors for more learning. Make this the year of "what we can do" instead of what we can't.

Since most children are not having in-person instruction, they miss out on the engagement with others. Enhance their learning this year with a road trip filled with outdoor experiences that will amp up their school year and help them feel connected to their surroundings. 

Many children are divided into learning groups of either morning session or afternoon session. We have added a sample schedule to help organize your day. We also have resources to help their “at-home” teacher to enhance their curriculum. Here are some suggestions for places to visit to make the most of your field trip.

Filled with opportunities for learning, national parks are a great way to bring science, social studies, math and even physical ed to life. Programs like the Junior Ranger Program, are great ways for kids to learn all about the parks, wildlife, and more. And most national parks are entirely outdoors, where maintaining physical distancing is easy. There is a fee to enter the national park of $35 which is good for 7 days.

Here are 5 top educational things to do in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks:

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

McKellar Family Farms: Farmer Bob’s World

Open for tours beginning Sept 4, this family owned working ranch, is a wonderful experience in agriculture. Learn how citrus – oranges, lemons and limes - gets from the farm to your table. Things like climate, soil, water usage, machinery and more are all great topics for science, math, and social studies. How many oranges does one acre of land produce? How do bees help an orange grow? These are great questions to ask when you take the tour.

Native American Culture:

Native American culture is part of the curriculum for most 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students. In Sequoia National Park, there is evidence that remains of the communities that lived there. Visit Hospital Rock to see pictographs on the outcropping of rock, look for grinding holes that were used for food preparation, and nearby, see bedrock mortar just outside Kaweah Lake visitors center. One of the largest Native American basket collections on display in California is at the Mooney Grove Museum. Other exhibits from pioneer days and early Visalia are on display. Check to see museum operations. We have created an itinerary that will take you to all the top sites.

Historic Walking Tour: 

No education would be complete without a study of 1850’s California. A time of rapid growth for California with the influx of gold miners, Visalia was the first city to develop between Los Angeles and French Camp, just south of the Stockton area, and a stop on the Butterfield Stage route. When you walk through downtown Visalia, remnants of its wild west days and early development as the county seat are evident from the horse rings still imbedded in the curbs and historic building that are still in use today. Learn about buildings like the Palace Hotel, historically significant in the creation of the National Park Service. Printed guides are available in our office or you can view it online HERE

Sequoia Riverlands Trust: This organization works to preserve open lands, woodland communities and wildlife habitats. These sites are open for exploration and may also offer opportunities to volunteer. Science is ready to be discovered here and after a day hiking the area, Physical Education class is also done. Learn more about this organization and view their activities calendar HERE.

There are many properties to visit. Dry Creek nature preserve is the first example of an ecologically-based aggregate mine reclamation in Tulare County. It is also home to SRT’s native plant nursery. It's Unique because the combination of biological and environmental conditions that give rise to the sycamore alluvial woodland community occurs only rarely. Kaweah Oaks Preserve is one of the last remaining riparian oak forests in the central valley and a great place to hike.

Volunteer days: The first and third Friday of each month provide opportunities to volunteer at Dry Creek Preserve. Or attend a stewardship day on the 2nd Saturday at Kaweah Oaks Preserve, one of the last riparian oak forests in the Central Valley.

Pixley Wildlife Refuge

Visitors to the Pixley National Wildlife Refuge may be surprised to see it is home to small seasonal marsh wetlands yet what they may not know is that it has some of the last significant acres of Southern San Joaquin Valley Grassland habitat. This habitat type provides nesting, foraging, and cover for a variety of species including threatened Tipton kangaroo rat, blunt-nosed leapord lizard, and the endangered San Joaquin kit fox. During the winter months, it is the best place in the Southern San Joaquin Valley to view Sandhill Cranes.

Col. Allensworth State Park

A century has passed since the founding of this unique town dedicated to the dignity of the human spirit. There are opportunities to learn about Colonel Allen Allensworth and the courageous group of families and individuals who believed they could create their own version of the "American Dream". Experience the inspiring story of the people who came to an isolated spot in the southern San Joaquin Valley to build a place of their own, a place where hard work, dedication, and faith would allow them and their children the opportunity to control their own discrimination-free destiny.

This is an excellent opportunity for delving into more recent American history. This is a state park. Learn more HERE

Tour a Farm
Native American Culture
Science Outdoors

Some schools operate on a "morning" or "afternoon" block schedule. This leaves opportunity for exploration during the alternate time frame. Here are sample schedules of things to do based on a block schedule. If you are taking a long weekend and have a full day available for exploring, we recommend going to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park for the day where drive times are are a bit longer. Adjust the time frame as needed for your child's specific schedule.

Morning Session Sample Schedule 

Stop 1:  McKellar Family Farm - "Farmer Bob's World" 

Reservations are required for a morning tour. Kids will learn all about life on the farm.

Stop 2:  Kaweah Oaks Preserve

Let kids get their wiggles out while exploring the preserve - one of the last remaining riparian oak forests. Learn what the valley looked like before city development. Maps are available at the entry for a small donation. Along with hiking, kids can look for birds, bugs and other wildlife. 

Sample Afternoon Exploration

        Depart Hotel – with a picnic lunch if time allows for a picnic in the Park

        Stop 1:   Sequoia National Park – Visitors Center

              Visitors centers are closed but information about the parks can be found in kiosks and in the information handed out at the entrance gate. Rangers are usually available to answer questions and provide advice. 

        Stop 2: Head to Hospital Rock where you can explore native American Pictographs atop Hospital Rock; follow path down to Kaweah River and look for grinding holes. This is a great place to have a snack and take a quick break.

        Stop 3: Return to Three Rivers and stop at Lake Kaweah Marina. On the upper parking area you will find the Kaweah Heritage Visitors Center. Outside of the office is a bedrock mortar discovered when the lake was dammed. The center has lots of great           information on the building of the dam (think engineering!) and a very friendly staff who will answer any questions. Use binoculars to look for birds like duck, osprey or even bald eagles.

The view from this area overlooking the lake is wonderful and a great place for a snack break.

Stop 4: Head back to Visalia for a kid friendly dinner at Planing Mill Pizza or Taylor's Hot Dogs.

Here are some online resources for parents and children to enhance their learning. NASA supports STEM education with links to content for a variety of age groups. Attend the virtual Dark Sky Festival and watch presentations by NASA scientists who talk about the Mars Rover and other "out-of-this-world" topic. Even Smokey Bear is making it easy and fun for kids and parents to learn about fire safety with content that meets learning standards. Click on the links below to learn more.

SMOKEY BEAR
NASA STEM ACTIVITES
VIRTUAL DARK SKY FESTIVAL
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©2020 Visalia Convention & Visitors Bureau
P.O. Box 2734 Visalia, CA 93279
112 E Main St, Visalia, CA 93291
(800) 524-0303 : (559) 334-0141