By Teachers, For Teachers
Field trips have been a staple in classrooms around the globe for decades. Students and teachers alike look forward to these educational outings all year long. It’s a chance to get out of your daily structured routine and teaching strategies, as well as a wonderful opportunity for students to make curriculum connections outside of the classroom, that relate to what they are learning inside of the classroom. Follow these field trip tips if you’re looking to create teaching strategies that bring about a fun learning adventure that is enjoyed by all.
Here are a few suggestions on what you can do before your field trip.
The first step in planning a field trip is to figure out where you want to go. Think about what your students are learning and try to connect an outside of the classroom adventure that relates to that. For example, if you are doing a unit on nutrition, you can take a field to trip to your local grocery store. Children can learn about healthy food choices, go on a food scavenger hunt, or figure out appropriate ingredients for a healthy recipe. If you are teaching about budgeting money, a trip to the bank may be a good idea. Students can learn how they will have to use their math skills in the real world by writing check and withdrawal slips, using a debit card, or opening a savings account.
Once you have chosen the destination, you must contact the facility to see the dates that they have open, and how much the field trip will cost per student. Then you must submit a field trip request form to your school’s main office and wait until it is approved.
Once your field trip has been approved by the main office, it is now time to secure the destination and send home a parent consent letter. You should send this letter home to students and parents about 1-2 weeks before the trip. In the letter be sure to ask for any chaperones that are willing to attend the field trip. Each class is required to have a certain number of chaperones. If you get too many volunteers, then you can hold a lottery for the allotted positions.
Once you have your chaperones, create a list of duties and expectations that you can give to them on the day of the field trip. For example, if each chaperone is getting five children to be in charge of, then make a list of the names of these children and any medications or allergies they may have.
Discuss field trip behavior rules ahead of time with your students. Teach and model appropriate behavior and the consequences for misbehaving. Discuss bus behavior and where should they should sit on the bus. Talk about where they will be eating lunch and the rules for that, as well as how to conduct themselves during the actual field trip. Emphasize that they are representing their school's reputation when they are off-campus, and that they need to present their best behavior.
Before the field trip plan a learning activity. This can be done in the classroom before the trip, during the trip, and/or after the trip. For instance, if students were going to the grocery store, you can plan a food scavenger hunt at the store. If you were going on a trip to your local bank, you can have students think of questions that they want answered, and write them down and bring them on the trip to ask the guide. It is also a great idea to think of an extension activity for after the field trip to really help cement what students have just learned.
Here are a few suggestions for what you can do once you get to your destination.
As the teacher, you will spend the majority of your day counting heads and making sure everyone is accounted for. Enlist the help of chaperones for this task, but make sure you do it for yourself too. Keeping track of each and every student is the number one priority of the day.
If you have students that are a bit unruly in your classroom, you better believe that they will exhibit this same behavior in public. For these students, it’s best to ask their parent to chaperone them. It’s also a good idea to stick to the rules and consequences that you went over before the field trip. To change your rules while you are on the trip can be confusing and conflicting to the students. If a student broke a rule, and you said they would lose points, make sure that they lose points.
While you may be in charge of about 25 children, and you’re busy keeping count of them, trying to make them learn, and managing their behavior, you still need to enjoy yourself. Try to have some fun and get the most out of the day with your students. Take a lot of pictures and try and be in the moment. This is a day that you can really bond with your students.
After your visit take a few minutes to debrief your students. Talk about what they just learned, do a quick extension activity, or look at the pictures you took on your camera or phone. Take the time for your students to really think about what they learned and do a quick review about what they just experienced. The following day is the best time for you to take a more in-depth look at what they had learned, and connect it to what they are learning in class.
What do you think makes a successful field trip? Do you have tips that you would like to share? Please share your ideas in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.