First, a major shout-out to all the teachers and parents who are going above and beyond in these unusual times, navigating virtual classes while juggling work and family. If you’re looking to add some new learning experiences to the curriculum that are fun, educational and get you out of the house, then read on for a great syllabus from Wisconsin Dells.
Booby Trap Escape Rooms
Learning About Nature, Wildlife, History and Science
With so many kids in virtual learning mode, the thought of getting out of the house and exploring a favorite destination with learning in mind is surely an A+ idea. The Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau has done the homework for you, preparing this comprehensive list of school-cation and field trip offerings for you to consider. Of special note: Some run only through the fall, so don’t be tardy on those, with many others open year-round.
The Wonders of Wildlife
- Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue & Educational Center: The caretakers of this center provide a safe and comfortable home for neglected and unwanted big cats – 22 in all – while educating the public about these extraordinary animals. Consider the morning feeding tour, during which you follow the owners as they feed the cats, with the animals just five feet away. Spend the night in one of their overnight cabins overlooking the rescue and hear the roars of lions and tigers at night. Open until first snowfall.
- Timbavati Wildlife Park: There are 75 species of animals represented at this family-run park, with the toddler kangaroo walkabout area and parakeet encounter both standouts. The owners believe creating this connection with nature helps encourage people to become involved in conservation efforts. Inquire about their youth tours and VIP Behind-the-Scenes options. Lesson plan idea: Use the list of species on display to further research exotic birds of prey, mammals, reptiles and large felines. Open year-round.
- International Crane Foundation: While this remarkable foundation continues its work on a major renovation, with the center grand reopening set for May 1, 2021, take advantage of all the educational resources for kids K-12 on their website. This is the only place in the world to see all 15 species of cranes, and online resources include downloadable packets for teachers and students on crane habitats and conservation efforts. Then plan to visit in person next spring.
Devil's Lake State Park
The Splendors of Nature
- Scenic Tours: There is nothing quite like getting up close with nature to appreciate its splendor. In Wisconsin Dells, see the magnificent sandstone cliffs that hug the Wisconsin River via tour boat or WWII amphibious vehicles known as Ducks. Tour guides provide insights into the geological wonders known as “the dells.” Soar over treetops and canyons with an eco-zipline tour. Plan for a horseback riding expedition and see how many different types of trees and birds you can identify. Seasonal and year-round options.
- Plan a Visit to Devil’s Lake State Park: This 9,000 acre state park allows for so many learning opportunities along with great views. Although the Nature Center within the park is currently closed, visitors can still take a virtual tour online to learn about the geology of Devil’s Lake and the surrounding Baraboo Bluffs. Make sure to print off one of the scavenger hunt or bingo activities ahead of your visit for a truly immersive experience!
Science is Fun
- Tommy Bartlett Exploratory – Interactive Science Center: With some 175 hands-on exhibits, there is no chance for young students to be bored. The Exploratory has an entire hangar dedicated to the marvels and milestones of space exploration and includes a replica of a Mercury Space Capsule and an authentic Russian Space Station MIR core module. Don’t miss the hair-raising experience at the Van De Graaff Generator as kids learn about the power of electrostatic charges inside a thundercloud. Open year-round.
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum: What kid wouldn’t love a visit to this odditorium, with exhibits themed to King Tut, strange animals, and a whole host of the weird and whacky. Be on the lookout for hidden objects and clues for solving puzzles. Open year-round.
A Step Back in Time
- H.H. Bennett Studio & Museum: H.H. Bennett, a pioneer in landscape photography, is also known as “the man who made Wisconsin Dells famous” with his exquisite photos of the river and bluffs. Reserve a guided tour of his original studio and learn the history of the Ho-Chunk Nation, the lumbermen of the river, and the rise of tourism through his photos. Ask about their walking tours too, covering Wisconsin Dells in the Victorian era, Civil War history in a local cemetery, and even a haunted ghost walk. Open through Nov. 1.
- Riverside & Great Northern Railway: Sized right for the youngest students, this 15-inch gauge railroad living museum features a steam train ride through canyons, woods and rock cuts alongside the dells of the Wisconsin River. Kids delight at seeing the locomotive turned on a hand-operated turntable for the return ride. Weekend Pumpkin Trains run through October and include a chance to pick a free pumpkin, for children 12 and under. Open through October.
- The House on the Rock: Oh my, what an adventure you’ll have exploring this attraction housing massive collections that defy description. There’s a huge steam engine, a full-size carousel and a re-creation of a street in small town America from years gone by. The architecture is a marvel too, with the Infinity Room providing a vertigo-inducing view of the chimney of rock upon which the house was built. Visit during the Christmas season to see more than 6,000 collectible Santas. Open year-round.
Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Museum
Problem Solving & Teamwork
- Escape Rooms: These fun and fully-immersive adventures really encourage you to use critical thinking and teamwork skills to solve puzzles and riddles. Booby Trap Escape Rooms have four different experiences for you to choose from and both Kalahari Resort and Wilderness Resort have themed rooms where you’ll need to exercise brain power to decipher various clues and challenges.
- Interactive Games: Although other-worldly, Wizard Quest and MagiQuest/Shadow Quest at Great Wolf Lodge send players on a hands-on, brain-teasing adventure. You’ll explore fantasy worlds by finding clues and solving puzzles
No matter which informative exhibit peaks you and your student’s interest, find educational field trips ideas here in Wisconsin Dells. With numerous lodging options offering high-speed internet, take a trip to Wisconsin Dells to virtually learn and work from home during the day and explore at night. Remote learning in Wisconsin Dells is the perfect combination of work hard and play harder when you bring your family here for a fun and educational field trip getaway.