By Teachers, For Teachers
As school budgets continue to decline with each academic year, schoolteachers are continuing to fund their own enrichment classroom activities out-of-pocket, including field trips.
The “Field trip” has a long history within academia, giving students an opportunity to venture outside the realm of normal classroom activities and learn in a more interactive, engaging environment. However, the compounded expense in recent years makes planning a field trip arduous for both teachers and parents.
To minimize output and maximize enjoyment, use the following ideas to make your next classroom activities like field trips as affordable as it is inspirational and exciting.
Inquisitive young minds are captivated by the diversity and mystery that teems beneath the ocean’s surface, making an aquarium visit optimal for encouraging their curiosity. Behind-the-scenes tours, marine life encounters, hands-on demonstrations, and other educational programs are often available at discount group prices and even offer free days for short-term attractions and shows.
Whether your visit is geared toward science and technology, culture and fine arts, or historical artifacts and documents, a museum outing is both cost-effective and kid-approved. Several establishments designate “Free admission days” on a weekly basis or provide inexpensive group rates.
Some museums also offer teacher discounts seven days a week, including the Shedd Aquarium, The Florida Museum, Country Music Hall of Fame, The New England Museum, and more. These incentives make a museum excursion ideal for supplementing your students’ core curriculum.
Most communities feature a zone of land appointed for ecological conservation efforts, and exploring this area is often free of charge. Contact your local preserve for scheduling, then watch your students connect with the biodiversity of ecosystems they didn’t even realize exist in their own backyard. Guided hikes, instructional activities and “Green living” discussions round out this wilderness jaunt.
Escaping that urban pulse and trekking into more provincial territory introduces children to a different background beyond their own horizons. There’s no better place for them to experience this than at your local organic farm, where students can learn the importance of nutrition, sustainability and locally grown food.
The best part: You likely won’t have to pay anything, and most farms even urge visitors to come for a fun day of getting hands-on in the dirt and fields, ending with a fresh meal harvested from the farm.
If your budget can’t accommodate travel expenses or entrance fees, tap into the unlimited capabilities of the Internet. Given the momentum of our digitized culture, it’s no surprise that education has also gone virtual, offering field trips that students can take without leaving the classroom—or spending a dime.
The youthful imagination is malleable terrain, so fostering childhood appreciation for artistic pursuits can inspire a lifetime of self-expression and creativity. Taking this into consideration, attend a performance at either a community or regional theater in your area. While main stage productions can be expensive, matinee tickets are often marked-down, and some venues stage preview shows on the house.
Give those American history lessons a dose of authenticity and check out local landmarks that reflect a bygone era. Your students will be fascinated as their studies come to life, and you can take this opportunity to quiz them while exploring the grounds. In addition, several monuments, battlefields, courthouses and other historical sites around the U.S. charge nominal admission fees.
When kids are exposed to volunteering at a young age, they learn to appreciate the feeling of pride, satisfaction and accomplishment that comes with doing something for someone else. Plan a field trip with the dual-purpose of teaching community service, while demonstrating altruistic behavior. Animal shelters are excellent and low-cost resources to introduce this concept since most children gravitate toward four-legged companionship.
Jessica Thiefels is an education blogger and has been featured in publications such as EdTech Digest and Daily Genius. Her favorite books growing up were My Side of the Mountain and The Giver, and she hopes to inspire a similar love of reading in students and educators.