By Shannon Anderson, author of Mindset Power: A Kid’s Guide to Growing Better Every Day
With budget cuts, holds on large group gatherings, and bus driver shortages, taking your students on a field trip can be pretty tricky these days. However, with a little creativity, you can find ways to keep field trips in your plan this year. Here are some ideas to help you rethink field trips and get kids learning outside of the textbook and the classroom.
1. Think Small
Since many places won’t allow 100 kids to come to see a play or tour a museum right now, think about splitting your grade level by classes. Perhaps you can still go on “that trip that fourth graders always look forward to,” but just on different days and in smaller groups. Many of the other ideas in this post work better and will be easier to plan if one class goes at a time. If you need transportation, having a smaller number of students means you will need only one bus driver instead of three or four at the same time as you would when transporting a whole grade level. There are many benefits for keeping your group size small.
2. Think Local
Think about what is within walking distance of your school. Could you walk your kids to the public library? To the post office? To the police or fire station? You may be surprised at how many students have never been inside these places. Or, if they have, they have never had a behind-the-scenes tour. These are great ways to create partnerships with the community too. Trips to these places help kids learn about how the different parts of a community work together for the common good. (If you have students who cannot physically walk a long distance, many times you can get special permission for someone to drive a student to the location.)
3. Think Online
There are many zoos, museums, and other attractions that offer virtual tours. When these venues had to close to in-person events, many were able to stay open by offering online programming. Here is a link for some museum opportunities and a website with a list of zoos that have live web cams.
4. Think Global
Taking your class to another country would be very expensive and time consuming, but there are many globe-trotting options online. You can travel to the Egyptian Pyramids or walk through the White House. If you want to travel even farther, you can explore Mars with a Mars rover.
5. Think Within
Students love to know insider secrets. So how about showing them places within your own school? Could a custodian give your students a tour behind all those doors kids normally aren’t allowed to enter? Many students don’t know what a boiler room is or about the work that happens to keep the school comfortable, clean, and safe. It may give your students a whole new appreciation for the upkeep of the school.
What about the cafeteria? Could the cooks show students where the food is stored, prepared, and cooked? A visit with the technology team is sure to spark some interest too. What goes into keeping all those tablets and computers in working order? How do they make sure the internet use at school is safe for students?
6. Think Guest Experts
If you cannot go to a museum or zoo, can you bring them to your school? There are many places that will send experts with a collection of items or animals to you. You save a lot in travel and time by hiring the expert to come and spend the day at your school. You may be able to socially distance in a gymnasium or auditorium to hear the presentation, or the speaker could travel classroom to classroom.
I hope this has given you some ideas for helping kids have learning experiences outside of the textbook and the classroom. Exploring exciting places can spark an interest in a topic, allow for a deeper dive into the content, and provide a fun experience that is engaging and memorable.
Shannon Anderson has taught for 25 years, from first grade through college level. Her career highlight was being named one of the Top 10 Teachers who inspired the Today Show. Shannon is also the author of many children’s books and a national speaker. She was named the JC Runyon Person of the Year for her work helping kids with social and emotional issues through her writing and speaking. To find out more, you can visit: shannoisteaching.com.
Free Spirit books by Shannon Anderson:
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