Top destinations for an educational trip with kids
An educational trip doesn’t have to be dull and boring in the same way that all holidays don’t have to just be about sun, sea and sand. If you are taking your children abroad then here is a teachers recommendation of favourite destinations that can be massively educational and informative (without the kids knowing about it) as well as being a trip full of fun and adventure.
Where better to see history, religion and action collide than in the Eternal City. Not only is Rome home to the Colosseum and Forum where kids will be in awe of the Gladiator stories but the whole of Rome is like a walking history book with archaeological sites at every turn.
I would wholly recommend a Segway tour to keep the kids (check minimum age with guides) entertained but also to hear key details about these sites, it’s so much fun to buzz about the cobbled streets on a Segway and even if they take in 30% of what’s being said by the guide then that’s a win!
If your little ones get really into the Gladiators, even after posing with them for an overpriced photo then just outside Rome there is the opportunity for them to become fully immersed in this way of life at Gladiator School.
In addition to all this the Italian cuisine is sure to ease even the fussiest of eaters plus the best gelato (ice-cream) in the world and with the Italians being notoriously fond of bambinos it really is an easy destination to go for with kids.
If ancient civilisations interest your kids then also try Egypt. Check the latest FCO (or other national foreign office) for the most up to date travel advice.
My adopted home city is the perfect place to come with kids for a fun but educational trip as the majority of attractions are either free or very reasonably priced. Both the Natural History Museum and Science Museum are free entry for standard admission and perfect for children and adults of all ages with hands on exhibits and everything carefully explained so everyone can understand. The Royal Parks don’t cost a penny to roam and wander round in and soaking up the atmosphere on the South Bank and in Covent Garden won’t break the bank.
There are of course pricier options, such as a visit to Liz in Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Madame Tussauds or seeing the gorillas at London Zoo but booked far enough in advance, good deals can be found.
My favourite thing to do in London with kids of all ages would have to be a visit to the West End, I don’t think there’s a better cultural learning experience for a child than going to the theatre and London has everything and more from blockbuster mainstream shows such as The Lion King and Matilda, the restored Globe Theatre to see Shakespeare’s classics in an original setting to specialist child friendly venues such as the Unicorn and Polka Theatres whose programmes are specifically aimed at entertainment but also educational theatre experiences for young people. Tickets can be purchased in advance but also take advantage of the official half price tickets booth in Leicester Square for on the day discounts to all the major shows.
Dependent on which side of the Atlantic you are then another big city with great museums, shops and shows is of course New York.
The Riviera Maya
During all the time we were on honeymoon in Mexico we kept thinking what a wonderful destination it would be to bring kids. The wonder of the Mayan ruins can be explored on a day trip from the major resort hubs of Cancun and Playa de Carmen and if you strike lucky with a good guide like we did they will make the sites come to life with their knowledge on the Ancient civilisations.
There is also so much to see, do and learn underground and under the water. The geological phenomena of Cenotes (natural forming sinkholes occur when limestone has collapses into the ground exposing water underneath) are fairly unique to the Yucatan Peninsula with many of them being opened up for swimming in. Several of the cenotes can be combined with a trip to the ruins at Tulum or Chichen Itza. The water parks in Mexico can even be educational with the eco parks Xel-Ha and Xcaret offering adventurous activities such as zip-lining and swimming in underground rivers in addition to being a hotspot for hundreds of species of marine and wildlife. If your children are aged 8 and above and want to take marine exploration a little further then they are old enough to complete their first PADI qualification at one of the many resort based dive centres and could then go onto dive in open water anywhere in the world.
For another totally tropical geological and cultural trip to excite the kids then friendly and peaceful Bali could be the answer.
Perfect for introducing the kids to the myths and legends of Ancient Greece, an island hopping holiday could be the perfect way to get the best of both a traditional beach break and a cultural and sightseeing tour. The Visit Greece website has some great ideas for what to do on the different islands and the key mythological sites and areas. My favourite greek island is Kefalonia, not only it is the setting for Captain Correlli’s Mandolin but it’s also so easy to reach the other islands in the Ionian Sea on day-trips so the stories of Odysseus on nearby Ithaca are just a short boat ride away.
My students however seem to prefer the Minotaur myth and it’s links to the island of Crete, maybe it’s because the very popular book and film series The Hunger Games seem to have borrowed many key aspects of the plot. You can actually visit the Minotaur’s labyrinth at the Palace of Knossos and get the kids to pretend they are one of the tributes sent to try to take on the Minotaur to the bitter end!
For an easy beach break combined with art and culture then head to Spain and the beaches around the amazing city of Barcelona, and hope the kids pick up some artistic flair after seeing so much work by Gaudi and Dali.
Somewhere I haven’t been yet (will be visiting at the end of this month) but know it will be perfect for exploring with kids. Due to its location in one of the most active volcano spot in the world, Iceland is blessed with an array of stunning geological, geographical and natural features. Where would be better to learn about how tectonic plates work than the place where you can actually snorkel between two of them! Iceland looks like something out of fantasy novel and when some of the top attractions are even called after Gods then it’s easy to forget that everything is natural; except of course the infamous Blue Lagoon which is a man-made geothermal spa.
Need more natural wonder and prepared for an epic long-haul? Then it has to be to Australia or New Zealand whom combined have more sights of natural importance inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage list than anywhere else in the world.
If you would like any other details on any of the above destinations and how to make the most of an educational visit with links to the National Curriculum then please get in touch and I will respond with as much information as I can.
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