If you are home schooling your children in Texas you probably already know that the 7th grade history requirement is Texas History. One great way to reinforce what your student is learning in Texas history is to take a field trip to Waco. We spent the whole day in Waco on these four activities, but if you don’t want to make a whole day of it, they can be broken up into one, two or three field trips.
First Stop, Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum: This activity was first on our itinerary because it is conveniently located right on I-35. We had a lot of fun and spent a lot of time here. There were many exhibits within the museum that went right along with what my children were learning in their Texas history curriculum. There was a Bonnie and Clyde exhibit, a Texas Rangers timeline, and historic ranger badges. We had a lot fun dressing up in clothes and accessories from past times, including bonnets, cowboy hats and dresses. The wall in this dress up area is painted like a Texas landscape to make picture taking fun. The museum provides educational plans and a program especially for home school students. At the time of our visit admission was $7 for adults and $3 for children under 12. Make sure you take money for the gift shop if you would like to purchase souvenirs. Next door to the museum is the visitor center where you can get some great ideas for your next trip to Waco, and pick up a really nice, free map of the city that shows you exactly where to find the next three destinations.
Second Stop, Dr. Pepper Museum: Just a few blocks away was the historic Dr. Pepper Museum. We had a lot of fun here learning about the history of the Dr. Pepper Company. The building is very old and each floor is dedicated to a different theme. The most interesting thing was the well that the building was built around. After our tour of the museum we enjoyed real Dr. Pepper floats in plastic souvenir glasses at an old fashioned soda fountain.
Third Stop, Cameron Park Zoo: This was without a doubt one of the most impressive zoos I have ever visited. It’s not a real large zoo, but the exhibits are all very easy to see and close to the walkways. The zoo is clean and all of the animals looked healthy and content in their environments. There is a splash park and playground as well. The restrooms were clean and very well maintained. We got a lot of great pictures of the animals because they were all so active and visible.
Last Stop, River Walk and Suspension Bridge: The historic suspension bridge and surrounding area is beautiful. The bridge was built in 1870 and was used as a crossing for the Chisholm Trail. While we were there, they were setting up for a wedding the next day. There are two parks, one on each side of the bridge. I would caution you not to visit the river walk directly under the suspension bridge because of broken beer bottles and graffiti; it did not seem very safe. There was a lot more family activity and nicer scenery farther down closer to the parks.
We had a great day in Waco and learned a lot about Texas history. It was longer than a regular school day, so if it’s not a long drive for you, it may be a good idea to split it up into two or more field trips, especially if you have younger children with you. They will also enjoy all of these activities, but may wear out if you try to pack them all into one day like we did.