Events · Ramblings

70+ Virtual Field Trip Opportunities and Resources You Can “Visit” From Home

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My daughters and I have enjoyed going on many field trips over the years. We’ve had the opportunity to take a “behind-the-scenes” tour of two post offices, a few stores, a police station, a fire station, an apple orchard, multiple farms, a sawmill, a fish hatchery, a radio station, a couple of recycling centers, and more. There truly are so many interesting places to explore!

I even created a field trip journal earlier this year to record all of our field trip adventures. (You can get your own copy of this field trip journal here if you would like.)

Field Trip Journal Available

My daughters had the chance to fill out their first field trip journal entry after we toured an airport in February. Unfortunately, other planned field trips have been cancelled as a result of COVID-19.

So, does that mean we can’t take any field trips at this time? No! Thanks to technology, there are a lot of opportunities to take virtual field trips. No dress code, no preplanning, no commute, and no fee required!

70+ Virtual Field Trips

“Visit” zoos, aquariums, observatories, museums, food factories, and more from the comfort of your home with these webcams, virtual tours, and videos.

This is a long list of virtual field trip opportunities. I would not recommend doing them all at once. You don’t want a field trip burn out! Choose the ones you are the most interested in and do them as time and patience allow. It’s okay to bookmark this page to come back to for future field trips. That’s what I plan to do! With that being said, some of these virtual field trip opportunities have been created within the last few weeks in response to COVID-19, and I don’t know if they will remain after the quarantines have ended. You may want to do those field trip opportunities first if you are interested in them just in case.

(As a side note, I can’t control what others put on their websites, so please use with caution. I have clicked through many of the links to make sure they work, but I don’t have the time to explore all of them completely. Some of these links I have included are links to YouTube videos.)

Zoos

My family has had the opportunity to visit the Minnesota Zoo, Milwaukee Zoo, Racine Zoo, Madison Zoo, and (my personal favorite) Omaha Zoo. If you are unable to visit a zoo in person, watching the various zoo animal cams may be the next best option.

In the Lied Jungle Building at Omaha Zoo (photo taken by Brigitte Brulz)

Zoo Cameras Around the World

As the title suggests, this website offers links to zoo cameras all around the world. The list of zoos with webcams page includes the Alaska Zoo, Baton Rouge Zoo, Blank Park Zoo, Chattanooga Zoo, Chester Zoo, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Columbus Zoo, Cotswood Wildlife Park & Gardens, Dublin Zoo, Edinburg Zoo, El Paso Zoo, Greenville Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary, Highland Wildlife Park, Houston Zoo, Indianapolis Zoo, Kansas City Zoo, Marwell Zoo, Melbourne Zoo, Metro Richmond Zoo, Milwaukee County Zoo and Zoological Society, Minnesota Zoo, Monterey Bay Aquarium, North American Bear Center, Red Park Zoo, San Diego Zoo, St. Louis Zoo, Tallinn Zoo, Tennessee Aquarium, The National Zoological Park, Toledo Zoo, Tulsa Zoo, Virginia Zoo, Werribee Open Range Zoo, Woodland Park Zoo, Zoo Atlanta, Zoo Sauvage, and Zoo Montana. The live zoo cameras page offers a long list of animals to watch via webcams.

Some of the links may not direct you to an exact webcam, but many of them still offer information about the zoos. For example, when I clicked on the “Ant Webcam”, a page about the Marwell Zoo Webcams with interesting facts about the Marwell Zoo appeared. At the bottom of the page, I clicked on “view the Marwell Zoo webcams”, which opened a new tab with links to the webcams Marwell Zoo currently offers. These include a flamingo, lemur, giraffe, and penguin webcam, so I didn’t find the ant webcam I had originally clicked on. I guess that is kind of like actually going to visit a zoo when you expect to see a certain animal but that animal’s exhibit has been closed for some reason.

Ants (photo taken by Brigitte Brulz while visiting a nature center)

San Diego Zoo Animal Cams

Watch the cams for an ape, baboon, condor, elephant, koala, panda, penguin, polar bear, and tigers at the San Diego Zoo.

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

The Cincinnati Zoo is currently sharing information about their animals through a Home Safari Facebook Live each day at 3pm EDT. If you are like me and don’t have a Facebook account (or are unable to watch the presentations live), you can watch all of the videos on their YouTube channel.

Omaha Zoo- Zoo From Home

The Omaha Zoo is offering daily interactive videos and activities to do at home during this time. Some animals they currently have information for include rhinos, frogs, sloth bears, chinchillas, red pandas, sea lions, rattlesnakes, goats, bongos, and aye-ayes.

Milwaukee County Zoo

The Milwaukee County Zoo offers a “zoo view” of some of their animals.

Zoo Guide: A Bible-Based Handbook to the Zoo

Learn about more than 100 animals you may find at the zoo with this zoo guide written with a Biblical perspective from Answers in Genesis. This is a great resource for animal-loving kids and your next zoo visit, whether virtual or in-person.

Apologia Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day 

I had a daughter who went through a phase years ago where she wanted to learn all about animals. This book was a great curriculum option for that time. We learned a lot about flying creatures!

Apologia Exploring Creation with Zoology 3: Land Animals of the Sixth Day

We also learned a lot about land creatures with this Apologia book around that same time.

More Animal Cams

You might be able to see birds live through your own windows! As I write this, I can see a robin in the grass and two birds on my deck. But if you are looking for more choices of watching birds and other animals around the world, you may be interested in these options.

Earth Cam – Animal Cams

This website links to multiple other animal cams around the world. I spent quite a bit of time watching the meerkat cam from Miami, Florida. The meerkats were very active and so adorable!

The Cornell Lab- All About Birds

If you like watching birds, this is the website for you. They offer links to live cams of multiple bird feeder locations and specific birds such as owls, red tailed hawks, Bermuda petrals, northern royal albatrosses, and more.

Decorah Eagle Cam

This is a live feed of a bald eagle family in Decorah, Iowa near a fish hatchery that my family has had the opportunity to visit.

Aquariums

My family has had the pleasure of visiting the Georgia Aquarium, Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Reiman Aquarium, and other aquariums. Something about watching the fish and sea creatures swim around is mesmerizing!

Going to an aquarium provides so many wonderful experiences. We have touched jellyfish, horseshoe crabs, stingrays, sharks, sea anemones, sea urchins, and sea stars. We have watched sharks, penguins, and stingrays being fed. We have seen Winter and Hope (the dolphins from the Dolphin Tale movies) in person, and we have been awed by the size of the sea creatures as they swim over our heads. Isn’t God such an amazing designer?

Unfortunately, traveling to an aquarium is not always feasible (especially at this time). So, here are some aquarium cams and at-home resources to check out at various aquariums in the United States.

Touching Sea Stars at the Omaha Zoo and Aquarium (photo taken by Brigitte Brulz)

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

See what Winter, the dolphin from the movie Dolphin Tale, and the other animals are up to at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium with the live webcams.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Check out the sea otters, sharks, penguins, jellyfish, birds, and other animals at the Monterey Bay Aquarium with the webcams.

Aquarium of the Pacific

Watch the penguins above and below the water, the creatures of Shark Lagoon and the Tropical Reef, sea jellies, and other fish on the webcams at the Aquarium of the Pacific.

Georgia Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium is offering quite a bit of at-home educational resources. Check out their website for videos, facts, webcams, lesson plans, teacher resources, and more. They are also currently accepting artwork from kids and have a gallery of some artwork that has been submitted to them.

MangoLink- Live Animal Cams and Videos

This website offers links to various aquarium webcams. Listed aquariums include the Blank Park Zoo Aquarium, Aquarium of Pacific, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and National Aquarium Baltimore.

Aquarium Guide: A Bible-Based Handbook to the Aquarium

Learn about more than 100 animals you may find at the aquarium with this aquarium guide written with a Biblical perspective from Answers in Genesis.

Apologia Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day

Of course, we couldn’t learn about land animals and flying creatures without learning about swimming creatures, too. This is another Apologia book my daughters and I completed years ago.

There are quite a few hands-on activities to do along with the Apologia books. Below is a picture of an underwater-themed diorama we created as an idea from this book.

Our Underwater Diorama (photo taken by Brigitte Brulz)

Planetariums and Observatories

My family has had the opportunity to visit a few planetariums together, and I have had the chance to visit the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. We’ve also taken part in an event at a nature center where we looked through telescopes, went into a portable planetarium, and learned about space. I don’t remember ever visiting an observatory, though.

Years ago I wrote a story about a boy who insists “I’m a big kid now, and I can count really high, so let’s try to count all the stars in the sky.” The boy learns a lot about stars and the solar system while on a visit to a planetarium with his grandma, but he discovers there really are too many stars in the sky to count (even for adults). That story is still in a file of “unpublished works”. Looking into the night sky, whether in person or in a planetarium, is a reminder of Psalm 147:4.

Anyways, below are some planetariums and observatories you can virtually visit.

Our Homemade Constellations Chart (photo taken by Brigitte Brulz)

European Southern Observatory

This website offers different virtual tours of various observatories and planetariums.

NASA at Home

Learn more about the Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope, International Space Station, and more through the virtual tours and apps available on NASA at Home.

Palomar Observatory

Take a virtual tour of the Palomar Observatory and learn about their telescopes on the Palomar Observatory’s website.

Adler Planetarium

The Adler Planetarium offers a variety of online resources to check out.

Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy

This is another Apologia book my daughters and I have completed together.

Museums

Children’s museums, art museums, natural history museums, living history museums, city museums, and more. There are so many different types and sizes of museums to visit. I think the living history museums are my favorite!

From the 1700 Ioway Farm at the Living History Farms in Urbandale, IA (photo taken by Brigitte Brulz)

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

There are a few virtual tour options available at the National Museum of Natural History.

Boston Children’s Museum

My daughters have had fun at the Madison Children’s Museum, Milwaukee Children’s Museum, and the Children’s Museum of La Crosse. I really think children’s museums are more fun to explore in person, but the Boston Children’s Museum does offer you a glimpse of their museum through their virtual tour.

Louvre

I am the only one in my family who has actually had a chance to visit the Louvre in person and that was over fifteen years ago. I’m pretty sure we will not be taking any family trips to France, so this virtual tour of the Louvre will have to suffice.

Vatican Museums

See the Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s Room, and more virtually. This is probably the closest I’ll get to seeing them myself!

Scholastic Interactive Tour of Ellis Island

Learn all about Ellis Island through the stories of some immigrants who stopped in Ellis Island, photos, facts, and more on this interactive tour of Ellis Island brought to you by Scholastic.

The Henry Ford

This offers only three views of the Henry Ford Museum (at the bottom of the page), but it does have a lot of pictures to look through. If you are wanting even more resources for The Henry Ford, make sure to check out their Digital Collections, their Virtual Visit, and even more things to explore.

National Museum of the United States Air Force

Take a virtual tour of the National Museum of the United States Air Force and check out the interiors of aircraft.

Museum Guide: A Bible-Based Handbook to Natural History Museums

Read about more than 100 common museum exhibits in a Biblical perspective from Answers in Genesis.

More Virtual Tours and Resources

View of the Mississippi River from Pikes Peak in Iowa (photo by Brigitte Brulz)

I was disappointed to see that WebRangers retired at the end of 2019, but I guess we will see what they have in store for the future.

Son Doong Cave

My family has had the opportunity to explore quite a few caves, but none of them come even close in size to the Son Doong Cave. Explore the world’s largest natural cave located in Vietnam virtually from your home through National Geographic’s website. Many interesting facts are provided as you journey through the cave. (As a side note, it does state the cave was formed “over the course of hundreds of thousands of years.”)

The Nature Conservancy

Videos and teacher guides are available to learn about rain forests, deserts, coral reefs, renewable energy, and more. Curriculum is also available to download on the Nature Conservancy’s website.

Great Lakes Now

Learn about coastal wetlands, algae, and lake sturgeon through the “virtual field trip” videos Great Lakes Now has on their website.

The Great Wall of China

Visit a few portions of the Great Wall of China virtually. No hiking involved!

Orlando Virtual Tour

Visit Orlando offers virtual tours of the things you can see and do in Orlando including Sea World Orlando, Walt Disney World Resort, and Universal Orlando Resort. All places I have never visited!

Pyramids of Giza

Travel virtually to the Pyramids of Giza through Google Maps.

Food Production Tours

FarmFood 360

These FarmFood 360 videos are really neat! Not only can you watch a video tour of an egg farm, sheep farm, pig farm, cheese processing center, grain farm, apple orchard and more, but you can also move the video screen around to see a full view of the area. Hence the name 360 (for the 360 degree view). FarmFood 360 also has a website you can view here if interested.

SchoolhouseTeachers.com

SchoolhouseTeachers.com is an online homeschool curriculum site with over 425 courses and resources for all ages at one low price for the entire family. My daughters have used SchoolhouseTeachers.com for quite a few of their own school subjects, which I hope to write more about in future posts. SchoolhouseTeachers.com membership also includes a subscription to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, RightNow Media videos, course certificates, and much more.

SchoolhouseTeachers.com does not have virtual field trips directly on their website, but the course I created last year entitled Foods and Food Production does provide links to some video tours.

The Foods and Food Production course includes 154 pages of information about 26 different foods and how they are grown, harvested, processed, and used. I included opening and closing questions, links to videos, book lists, interesting facts, geography information about where each food is grown with a flag matching worksheet, information about what the products can be used in, and recipes for each of the 26 foods.

Of course, I won’t be listing all of that here, but the following food tour links are some of the links found within that course. My daughters and I watched all of these videos (and more) while I was creating the course.

Foods and Food Production
Foods and Food Production Course from SchoolhouseTeachers.com

Orchard to Table: Almond Life Cycle (2:48)

This is a quick video about the process of growing almonds throughout the year.

Blue Diamond Growers 2014 Plant Tour (22:37)

This is a very detailed video that shows the outside process of almonds as well as an inside tour of Blue Diamond factory. It has interviews of some employees of Blue Diamond, history of Blue Diamond, interesting questions and answers about almonds, and discusses the variety of foods almonds can be used in. Since the video was done by Blue Diamond, it does advertise Blue Diamond.

Touring an Apple Packing Facility (3:34)

This video shows the process of washing, waxing, and packaging apples at an apple packing facility.

Dole Harvesting Bananas (5:12)

This video goes through the process of picking and packaging Dole bananas.

Blueberry- How Does it Grow? (can stop at 8:33)

This video talks about the history of blueberries, differences of wild blueberries and cultivated blueberries, the stages of a blueberry as it ripens, how to pick blueberries by hand, the machine used to pick remaining blueberries, how blueberries are sorted and processed, and where blueberries may go once sorted.

Budding Broccoli: From Picking to Packing (2:19)

This video shows how purple sprouting and broccoli crowns differ in harvesting techniques, the amount of broccoli picked, and how the broccoli is processed before reaching your local store.

Georgia Broccoli Farm (3:59)

This is a video of a news report showing how broccoli is grown, harvested, packaged, and iced on a farm in Georgia.

Brussels Sprouts Harvesting (3:28)

This video has a Brussels sprouts farmer talking about growing Brussels sprouts in the UK. He talks about harvesting as the video shows the process.

Crunchy Carrot: From Farm to Fork (3:49)

This video shows carrots being harvested and packaged in a factory in Britain.

Western Australian Carrots: From Paddock to You (3:50)

This video shows carrots being harvested, prewashed, polished, sized, cooled, and boxed as music plays in the background.

Washington Cherry Harvest (5:45)

This video talks about the history of one family-owned cherry farm, Allan Brothers Fruit. It shows how the cherries are handpicked, the different varieties of cherries, ways they keep birds away from the cherries, some information about a cherry farm, and how the cherries are processed in the packing plant. This company can process up to twenty-seven tons of cherries per hour according to the video!

Washington Fruit and Produce Company (1:41)

This video gives an inside view of the Washington Fruit and Produce Co. factory and shows some machines used to check and process cherries for packaging.

How Does Corn Grow? (5:24)

The beginning of this video is a cartoon of ducks planting corn, but then it moves on to real pictures and discussion. It talks about sweet corn, field corn, and popcorn. It also shows the different parts of a corn plant including the roots, stalk, leaves, tassel, silk, ears, and kernels. It also shows how the corn grows with a video of roots forming underground, and it lists a number of items that can be made with corn such as candy bars, ethanol, bubble gum, soap, and more.

Cranberry| How Does it Grow? (5:22)

This video shows how cranberries are grown and harvested. It also shows how to make fresh cranberry sauce at home.

Best Maid Pickle Factory (3:07)

This video shows the production of Best Maid pickles made in Texas.

Watch Mount Olive Pickles Company Tour (13:19)

This video shows the processing of pickles at Mount Olive Pickle Company up until 9:35. After that, the video discusses Mount Olive Pickle Company’s recycling program, community service activities, yearly Pickle Festival, and New Year’s Eve pickle drop.

Mt. Olive Pickle Gift Shop Signs
On the Corner of Cucumber and Vine at Mt. Olive Pickle Company (photo taken by Brigitte Brulz)

Tour of Welch’s Grape Farm (3:13)

This video shows the process of growing grapes beginning with pruning in the winter (by machine and hand) and ending with harvesting.

Kiwi Picking and Packing Process (stop at 10:00)

This video shows what happens to kiwifruit plants in preparation for growing season, harvesting of kiwifruits, how to wear the collection bag for harvesting, and the steps the kiwifruit goes through inside a processing center all the way until it is loaded in the back of a trailer by forklift. Text on the bottom of the screen labels each stage.

How Olive Oil is Made (4:45)

This video shows two different ways olives can be harvested and processed into oil. It also shows the olive oil being sampled and mentions why olive oil may be bottled in green glass jars.

California Ripe Olives: From Orchard to Store Shelf (2:40)

This video shows green and black olives being processed and canned in a factory.

Minute Maid: From Grove to Glass (1:00)

This fast-paced video has no explanation, but is shows orange trees being planted, oranges being harvested, and oranges being processed to make orange juice.

How Does It Grow: Oranges (7:38)

Learn where oranges are sold with a green peel, how oranges grow, about different types of oranges, how oranges are harvested, and information about pests that affect the orange groves.

From the Farm to Factory (:30-11:32)

This video shows a peanut field being prepared, peanut plants growing, peanuts being harvested, and the process the peanuts go through once at a factory. A man narrates what is happening throughout the entire process.

Prickly Pineapples: From Farm to Fork (4:01)

This video shows how fields are prepared and how pineapples are grown at a farm in Costa Rica. It also demonstrates how each pineapple plant is planted and how each pineapple is picked, placed in bins upside down, checked, and processed in a factory.

Dole- Growing Pineapples (4:45)

This video shows the different stages of flowering, harvesting pineapples by hand, temperatures needed for proper tasting pineapples, how pineapples are planted, how to properly prepare fields for pineapples, and how the pineapple fields are maintained once planted. The video states that it takes 13-16 months per plant to produce a pineapple!

Growing Potatoes: From Field to Supermarket (4:17)

This video shows potatoes being planted, harvested, and processed in a factory for packaging. At one point, the video says that the fields are desiccated prior to harvesting, which is a word many kids (and possibly adults) may not know. Desiccated means to dry up, so it is saying the fields must be dry before they can harvest the potatoes.

How Does it Grow: Potatoes (stop at 4:02)

This video shows how potatoes grow, what tubers are, and what turns some potatoes green. It also shares information about potato beetles and Ireland’s potato famine. Then, the potatoes are taken to a factory where they are peeled, sliced, fried, and prepared as chips.

Pumpkin- How Does it Grow (3:56)

This video talks about the history of pumpkins, how they are harvested, and more facts about different kinds of pumpkins.

pumpkins on deck
Pie Pumpkins for Our Grand Pumpkin Experiment (photo taken by Brigitte Brulz)

How Does It Grow: Raspberries (4:06)

This video shows how raspberries grow and are harvested (very carefully).

Sweet Strawberries: How Do They Grow? (2:15)

This video shows how strawberry plants are planted, grown, and watered. It also talks about pollination and maturing strawberries.

Tomato | How Does it Grow? (11:02)

This video shows a farm in Northern California, explains where tomatoes come from, how they are grown, and how they are harvested for processing.

From Farm to Fork: Tasty Tomatoes (3:03)

This video shows tomato plants grown inside. It also shows how the tomato plants grow, how the tomatoes are harvested by hand, how they are transported inside by driverless mini tractors, and packaged at a packing plant.

Even More Tours

How It’s Made (YouTube Channel)

I love watching videos of how things are made, so the How It’s Made YouTube Channel is a place I will definitely have to come back to again. It offers over 1,000 videos that are each about 5 minutes long on how various items are made. That’s over 1,000 short virtual field trips! My daughters and I recently watched the videos of how rubber bands, balloons, crayons, toothbrushes, and aluminum foil are made.

Blippi (YouTube Channel)

Blippi is a very energetic character! This YouTube channel provides video tours of quite a few places including a children’s museum and bakery for toddler and preschool age.

Take a Field Trip to the Recycling Center (7:51)

My daughters and I have had the opportunity to tour two different recycling centers. One was much larger than the other, so it was interesting to see the different aspects of each. This video field trip to a recycling center is available on the South Florida PBS channel and is intended for a younger audience. It has cartoons along with actual recycling center tour footage.

Memphis Fire Department Virtual Field Trip (21:43)

Years ago, my daughters and I toured a fire station with our homeschool group. The kids had a lot of fun trying to control the fire hose as water gushed out of it (with the help of others). This virtual video of the Memphis Fire Department is a great alternative if you can’t visit one in person.

Collum’s Lumber Products Saw Mill Tour (12:31)

My daughters and I toured a saw mill a few years ago with a couple of friends, which I found to be quite interesting. This video tours a saw mill beginning with trucks loaded with logs. It shows the process of the logs being unloaded and transformed into utility poles, cut boards, and more. The video was put together very well. The camera goes places (in the machines) that we obviously couldn’t go through in person. (There were a couple of commercials at one point during the video, which I was able to skip after a few seconds each.)

Watching Logs Being Processed at a Saw Mill (photo taken by Brigitte Brulz)

Vehicle Tour: Post Office Delivery Truck (2:46)

My daughters and I have had the opportunity to tour two different post offices, but we didn’t get to see the inside of any of the post office delivery trucks since they were delivering mail at the times of our tours. So, this video was a nice complement to our post office tours. It shows the inside of an LLV (Long Life Vehicle) including some of the gauges and gadgets. The man videotaping kept mentioning how old these vehicles are, which is something that was discussed on our most recent post office tour. Towards the end of the video, he unsuccessfully shows how to latch the seatbelt (probably because his one hand is preoccupied with holding the camera).

Raising Hatchery Trout (6:39)

I love feeding the fish at fish hatcheries. The fish swarm to where the food is and splash all over (as seen in the photo below). The fish even follow you as you walk along their tanks as though they are waiting for you to feed them (at least on certain days). This video gives a tour of a fish hatchery starting with the delivery of fish eggs via FedEx. It goes through the process of taking care of the eggs and the fish as they mature. The fish hatchery shown in the video raised over 1 million trout in 2015!

Fish Hatchery – Daniel, Wyoming (8:42)

Yes, this is another video of a fish hatchery, but different tours offer different perspectives of the industry. This video also goes through the process of raising trout, but it doesn’t discuss the process of taking care of the eggs like the last video did. It also provides more information on the machines used to filter the water. The fish hatchery in this video raises 250,000-300,000 trout each year.

Feeding Fish at a Fish Hatchery (photo taken by Brigitte Brulz)

Even More Resources

Obviously, there are many other virtual field trip opportunities available. Virtual School Activities currently offers additional links to webcams, virtual tours, and other educational sites that may not have been mentioned here.

Don’t forget to visit fun extras for free coloring pages, activity ideas, and a teacher’s guide. Story Monsters at Home is also full of book downloads, activities, and videos of authors reading their books. Authors Everywhere is another resource to check out for book lovers. It is a YouTube channel filled with videos of authors reading their books, writing prompts, activities, and more.

And make sure to check out this list of 110+ free resources for kids to use during the Coronavirus school closures found on A Fine Parent for even more learning opportunities. If you are a homeschooling parent like me, this will be a great reference even after the schools open again!

I’m looking forward to being able to go on field trips in person again when we are able, but there are so many options here to explore with my daughters in the meantime. I definitely want to watch more of the FarmFood 360 videos and How It’s Made videos!

Please share this with others who may enjoy these virtual field trips!

Happy Adventuring!

Events · Ramblings

My Experience at the SCBWI Adventures in Nonfiction Conference

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no extra charge to you if you click on a link and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I greatly appreciate all purchases you make using these links. Thank you!)

Last year I learned a lot at the SCBWI Adventures in Nonfiction Conference, and I was excited when it was announced that there would be another nonfiction conference this year: Adventures in Nonfiction Part II.

Adventures in Nonfiction Part 2

The conference featured Senior Editor Carolyn Yoder and authors Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Miranda Paul. To prepare for the conference, I read multiple nonfiction books (and fiction books) written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Miranda Paul.

The night before the conference, I had the opportunity to go out to dinner with some other conference attendees/authors including Miranda Paul. It was a wonderful experience being able to speak with authors from Wisconsin, Illinios, Minnesota, and Iowa whom I had never met before.

Preconference Dinner

During the conference, I had the pleasure of introducing authors Miranda Paul and Jacqueline Briggs Martin before listening to their presentations.

I came home with a lot of information, multiple pages of notes in a notebook, and a few handouts. I was also really excited to purchase a signed copy of the book Adventures to School: Real Life Journeys of Students from Around the World for my daughters who don’t have quite the adventure getting to school as some of these kids since they are homeschooled!

Adventures to School

It is amazing how much research and work goes into creating books! Miranda and her husband Baptiste Paul worked on Adventures to School together. She mentioned they had an entire room devoted to the research of this book with pictures and notes taped to the walls for each of the countries listed. They had to talk to a lot of people, listen to interviews, find translations, do online research, and more to accurately portray the characters listed in the book.

Even though Adventures to School states “the scenarios in this book are composites and the narrators’ voices are fictionalized…”, it is classified as nonfiction by the Library of Congress. This is actually something Miranda Paul discussed at the conference – how books are classified as nonfiction or fiction.

If you look at the copyright page and it says “juvenile literature”, then it has a nonfiction classification. If it says “juvenile fiction”, then it has been classified as fiction. Interestingly, some libraries don’t follow this classification, and the same book may be located in different areas in different libraries.

At the end of the conference, we had a draw name raffle for attendees to win books written by authors who were present and gracious enough to offer their published books as prizes. There was also an illustrator who graciously gave an illustration of hers as a prize.

SCBWI Conference Book Prizes

The prize books included:

All of the conference attendees had their names placed in a box for a chance to win one of the autographed books. And I won…

I Am Farmer

I Am Farmer: Growing an Environmental Movement in Cameroon, which is another book Miranda Paul worked on with her husband, Baptiste Paul. The two of them actually travelled to Cameroon while doing research for this book!

During the conference, Miranda Paul showed us a great video about Farmer Tantoh that was filmed in Cameroon. You can also watch Meet Farmer Tantoh: Grassroots Environmentalist from Cameroon. Make sure to watch the video all the way to the end for a little chuckle. It’s amazing what Farmer Tantoh has been able to accomplish, and it is wonderful that Baptiste and Miranda Paul took the time to find the truth and write the story.

Here are some more things discussed at the conference by our speakers, who did an outstanding job:

  • what to include in a cover letter
  • bibliographies
  • examples of unique takes on famous subjects or topics
  • differences between primary, secondary, and tertiary sources
  • contacting experts in a field
  • page counts
  • making sure the world is relevant to the character in the story
  • how long it may take for manuscripts to become books
  • different types of nonfiction books
  • how books are classified by Library of Congress
  • format, structure, and style of nonfiction books
  • nonfiction books should not be boring
  • learning how to put our own manuscripts into categories
  • writing multiple versions of the same manuscript until it sounds right
  • self-editing tips
  • back matter
  • age of audience and their developmental milestones
  • hook and hold interest
  • comparable titles
  • who is responsible for cost of research (most of the time, it’s the author)
  • keeping records of sources
  • using all five senses in a book
  • creating a pitch for your manuscript
  • telling the story you are passionate about
  • places to find accurate information
  • how to research
  • having a through-line to your story
  • points of view in nonfiction
  • beginnings of nonfiction
  • biographies

I am so thankful I had the opportunity to go to this nonfiction conference. It gave me some ideas for a manuscript I am currently working on that is technically fiction but has a lot of educational components to it, so I am going to do some additional research, write a bibliography, and create some back matter for it.

What are you doing to learn more about a particular topic?

Events · Ramblings

When a Book Purchase Has a Story

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no extra charge to you if you click on a link and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I greatly appreciate all purchases you make using these links. Thank you!)

Recently I wrote about my daughters’ little business selling some homemade items. My husband and I offered to pay for my daughters to sell at the local farmers’ market five times this year as a Christmas gift. As a result, I have had the opportunity to accompany my daughters and sell my books Jobs of a Preschooler and Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles at the market.

I really enjoy talking to the people who walk through the market. Some are just passing through the area. Others are in town visiting family. Some have lived in the area for their entire lives and regularly go to the market.

It’s nice when people buy my books, but I take even more pleasure in listening to the reasons why people buy my books.

Jobs of a Preschooler has been purchased by preschool teachers, people who know preschool teachers, and parents and grandparents of children who will be starting preschool soon or who are currently in preschool.

Jobs of a Preschooler book

Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles has been purchased by many people for children and adults. Apparently it makes a great gag gift, which is quite entertaining to me. A lot of people have told me they are buying it for their adult child or spouse who loves pickles.

Other purchases have touched my heart and make me feel so excited to be a part of someone’s learning process. One lady purchased Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles for a reluctant reader who loves pickles. A speech pathologist purchased it for the repetition of the word pickles. Another parent purchased it for her child who was going to speech therapy and was told to try sour foods such as pickles to get his mouth moving.

Quite a few teachers have also bought Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles to further their discussion during their plant unit. Not only can they read the book, but the students can also put together the order of how to make pickles using the free printable that goes along with the book.

Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles book cover

Thank you to anyone who has purchased one (or both) of my books, and thank you to those of you who have shared your story with me.

Other people’s stories are one of the reasons I plan to continue writing stories. I would love to hear from you if you have purchased one (or both) of my books about the reason you made the purchase.

May you have a wonderful day!

 

 

 

Events · Ramblings

Another Upcoming Conference

SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) offers multiple conferences throughout the year in various states. This year, I had the pleasure of attending the SCBWI Adventures in Nonfiction conference and the SCBWI Grow Your Picture Book conference. Both of these conferences took place in Iowa.

Another SCBWI Iowa conference will be taking place in just a couple of months on October 6th, 2018 in West Des Moines, Iowa. It is entitled Change the World with Words.

Save the World With Words SCBWI Conference

You can find more information about the conference here on the SCBWI’s website. Just so you know, the early bird pricing ends on August 30th.

Have you enjoyed any conferences?

Events · Ramblings

17 Books to Prepare for Upcoming Conference

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no extra charge to you if you click on a link and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I greatly appreciate all purchases you make using these links. Thank you!)

I had the pleasure of attending the SCBWI Iowa Adventures in Nonfiction Conference earlier this year, which I really enjoyed. I read multiple nonfiction children’s books written and/or published by the speakers before attending the conference. Obviously, this is not a requirement, but it made me feel more prepared and gave me an idea of the various writing styles of the speakers.

Well, I have been busy doing some preconference research again in preparation for the SCBWI Iowa Grow Your Picture Book Garden Conference, which is already less than a week away! More information about the upcoming conference can be found on the SCBWI Iowa’s website here.

To prepare, I went to my local library and checked out all the fiction children’s books I could find written by the speakers. I was disappointed I didn’t find Chicken Wants a Nap by Tracy Marchini at my local library, but I did enjoy reading through Tracy Marchini’s blog posts on her website. I even signed up for The Quacktory.

Below is a list of the books written by the upcoming speakers I was able to check out and enjoy from the library.

I added a short summary of each of the books below their cover and title for you to have a little more information. Unfortunately, my summaries aren’t nearly as creative or interesting as the descriptions you will find listed within each of the books. For that reason, I have added links to Amazon for each of the books where you can read their descriptions and reviews.

Just so you know, these are affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you if you choose to click on them and make a purchase. With that being said, you may be able to find them at your local library to read for free.

I dare you to read all of these books without laughing out loud at least once!

Fiction Children’s Books by Jill Esbaum 

How to Grow a Dinosaur

An older dinosaur sibling learns all about welcoming a new baby dinosaur to the family. Baby dino eats, burps, sleeps, and even poops, but she needs help learning how to do a variety of activities such as playing peek-a-boo and roaring.

If a T.Rex Crashes Your Birthday Party

This book will help you be prepared in the event a T. Rex decides to show up at your birthday party. A T. Rex may not be very good at some of the games such as water balloon toss and swinging at a pinata thanks to those little arms, but he does do a great job creating a mess and scaring away some guests.

I am Cow, Hear Me Moo! 

Nadine is a fearless cow, or so she tells her friends. She even offers to prove it, which leads to some unexpected adventures through the woods. Is she really as fearless as she claims to be?

I Hatched!

A baby killdeer hatches and discovers its new surroundings while learning more about itself. It runs, examines itself in a pond, sings, admires its feathers, attempts to get lunch, and plans to teach its newly hatched sister all it had learned on its first day in the world.

Elwood Bigfoot Wanted: Birdie Friends!

Elwood Bigfoot does many things alone, but he wants to be friends with the birdies. He attempts to befriend the birdies, but he does not have any success no matter how hard he tries. Being a large creature can be scary for little birdies. Finally Elwood Bigfoot and the birdies become friends, and he is no longer alone.

Tom’s Tweet

Tom the cat thinks he sees a treat in the grass, but he decides the little bird is too small to eat. Thus begins Tom’s adventure of trying to rescue the poor little creature, much to the dismay of the little bird’s protective momma. Doesn’t the momma know a cat must carry a bird in its mouth while climbing a tree?

Teeny Tiny Toady

Teeny watches helplessly as her momma is caught and placed in a bucket by a young human boy. She hops, flops, plops, and slops as fast as she can to tell her big brothers the news. They go to rescue mom but also end up in trouble. Teeny realizes even though she is a tiny toad, she doesn’t need to be big or muscular to come up with a great idea to rescue her entire family.

Fiction Children’s books by Tammi Sauer


Chicken Dance 

Marge and Lola are two chickens determined to win the barnyard talent show which offers the coveted grand prize of tickets to Elvis Poultry. Unfortunately, Marge and Lola don’t know what their talent should be. That doesn’t stop them from trying and failing many not-so-well thought out ideas. Finally, they decide they will have to “wing it” at the talent show. Thankfully, they are not too “chicken” to “bawk and roll” onstage. Even though they don’t officially win the talent show, they earn something even better.


Mr. Duck Means Business 

Mr. Duck enjoys a schedule and his time alone. He gets bothered when all the other barn animals want to jump, splash, and be noisy in his peaceful pond. After a while, though, he realizes being alone all the time can get really lonely. Schedules are good but so is time spent having fun with friends.


Princess in Training 

Princess Viola is not like all the other princesses. She splashes, karate-chops, and skateboards, but that is not how a proper princess should act. Princess Viola enters Camp Princess to learn proper princess etiquette. Being prim and proper doesn’t seem to work for Princess Viola, and she worries she is a “royal failure”. That is until her skills come in handy and save the day.


I Love Cake! 

Moose and his friends love cake. Unfortunately, Moose loves cake so much he eats it all by himself without sharing. This, of course, does not make his friends happy especially since the cake was a birthday cake for a friend (not him). Will Moose be able to restore his friendship with his cake-loving friends?

Your Alien

What would you do if an alien landed in your yard? You would want to keep him, wouldn’t you? This would lead to some fun adventures (after you tell your parents, of course) along with a few messes. Once you are all tucked in to bed with your little alien, you will realize he is homesick. Thankfully, you are brilliant (just like your lights), and you are able to get his parent’s attention for an “out of this world” family reunion.

Me Want Pet!

Cave boy really wants a pet. No matter how hard he tries to find the perfect pet, there is always some excuse for him to not be able to keep it. That is until all of his past attempts prove worthy of being a part of the family.

Ginny Louise and the School Showdown

Truman Elementary has a bunch of troublemakers who wreak havoc on the school. They are destructive critters who do not know what to do when little Ginny Louise becomes a new student. She is nothing like them. She doesn’t scowl or growl. She paints, sings, learns, and hears things in her own way. Her kindness and actions turn the bad bunch into a pretty good bunch of students and friends.

Roar! 

A young boy claims to be a fierce dragon, but a couple of real dragons inform him he isn’t really a scary dragon. They even go as far as to say he is “really cute”, which makes the young boy upset. He wants to be toothy, fierce, and fire-breathing. The dragons comfort him by telling him all of the things he is able do. Unfortunately, the dragons realize all of those things are things they can’t do because they are dragons, which makes them upset. Thankfully, the boy is able to figure out some activities all three of them can do together as more than just a boy and two dragons.

Fiction Children’s Books by Charlotte Gunnufson

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Halloween Hustle

A rhyming story of a clumsy skeleton dancing the Halloween Hustle as he travels to a Halloween party. He is joined by all the other monsters along the way. The skeleton’s clumsiness leads to many falls, repairs, and a new friend.

Prince and Pirate

Prince and Pirate are two fish completely content in their own fishbowls until “the dreadful journey”. They are plopped into the same fishtank. Prince and Pirate each have their own lingo, and they don’t get along with each other at all. That is until a dogfish enters the tank.

Reading through all of these books made me even more excited for the upcoming conference. These ladies are all very talented and creative. I am really looking forward to learning something from each of them.

Have you ever been to a writing conference? If so, what is one tip you learned?