If you are a teacher, chances are the idea of a field trip is both exciting and terrifying. Field trips can be great learning opportunities for your students, though! Here is how to go about organizing your first field trip.
Tie it into your Curriculum
This is usually the first step. What are you learning about that you want to enhance with some real-world experience? It could be a unit on local Native American history that would benefit from seeing tribal art at the local museum. It could be a unit on how plants grow that would be awesome if your class could talk to a farmer. The possibilities are endless!
Once you are on your field trip, you can do scavenger hunts, questionnaires, interviews, or any number of other activities. You can also use the field trip either at the beginning of a unit (as a base to build from) or at the end (to tie your learning together).
Choose the Right Location
You know your students and what will be a good fit for them. Consider their needs. Are they preschoolers who need lots of breaks for snacks and restrooms and need to be back by nap? Are they high-schoolers who can be trusted with a fair amount of independence? Think about where might be a good fit for your students and their learning style.
Next, think about what your area has to offer. Most communities have rich learning opportunities that are perfect for field trips, you just have to think outside the box sometimes. We used to take a class of toddlers on a field trip to the local church pumpkin sale to teach them about pumpkins!
Make it Affordable
This can be tricky! Many locations have group rates, but this can still be cost-prohibitive for many classrooms. Try looking for free opportunities or applying for grants.
Think about Transportation
The options here are pretty straight-forward: go somewhere in walking distance, arrange for parents to drive carpools of children, arrange for a bus from your school, or have everyone transport themselves to and from. In some cities with older children, public transportation may also be an option. When making your decision, think about the resources available (is there a bus?) and the availability of your potential drivers. If most of your students’ parents work all day, it’s not feasible to expect a large number of parent drivers.
Figure out Logistics and Get Permission
Start early with this! Nail down the details ASAP. It helps to call your location and ask if they have a particular protocol for field trips. That can help! Make sure families have plenty of time to put the date on their calendar. Offer plenty of reminders. Give a deadline for turning in permission slips, but know that you will need another 1-2 weeks to track down the missing ones. Make sure your permission slip covers transportation, as well. Plan, too, to have enough chaperones for adequate supervision in an unfamiliar public place.
Enjoy your Field Trip
A field trip can be such a fun and memorable time for you and your students. It can also provide some wonderful hands on learning activities that aren’t possible in the normal classroom environment. It can be a hassle to plan, but the good news is, once you figure it out once, it isn’t so hard to repeat the same field trip the next year. Have fun!