3 November 2011 12:12 PM

Easy, Fun Field Trip Ideas

by Dr. Rick

Not long ago I spent a day with fifth graders from The Wilkes School at Grace and St. Peter’s as we took a city-walk field trip from our school to the War Memorial Building in Baltimore. 


A pretty early autumn day, eager children prepared by an inspiring teacher, an interesting topic, and a chance to learn beyond the school’s walls – what could be better for kids?  Not to mention free.  What’s not to like?


We stopped at various historical Baltimore sites and monumentsThe children particularly liked Battle Monument, honoring those who fought in the British attack on our city in 1814.  And the War Memorial Building was a unique treat, especially the Omaha Beach D-Day diorama with its 1,5 00 fighting figurines.  Talk about action figures!


I got to thinking how powerful field trips can be, how meaningful, how knowledge-extending, and how interactive.  Yes, school budgets have been cut (unwisely, in many cases), but that doesn’t mean kids can’t have great – inexpensive – learning experiences outside the school.


So, here, based on conversations with creative teachers and my own years of chaperoning field trips, are two dozen suggestions for field trips that even the most cash-strapped schools can consider.


1.      Local museums and historical societies.  Most have special free or reduced-admissions days for students.

2.      Farms, farmers markets, orchards, greenhouses.  Learn about seasons, agriculture, flowers.

3.      Local hospital.  Learn about healthy living and the folks who help keep us well.

4.      Local businesses.  Bakeries, pizza parlors, factories, florists, arts and crafts people. . .

5.      Your own neighborhood.  Look for various architectural styles, types of housing, and businesses.

6.      Public safety.  Visit the local police and fire stations as well as the 9-1-1 center.  See the ambulance, sit in the fire truck.

7.      The local zoo.  Or maybe a petting zoo, for the youngest kids.

8.      Local sports teams.  Visit their workout places, talk to their coaches about the importance of practice and persistence.  The local high school teams – girls’ and boys’ – are good.

9.      Local nursing home.  Old people need young people, and young people need old people.  Let the kids visit, sing to, interview the oldsters.

10.A veterinarian.  Learn about how to care for pets and keep them healthy.

11.Recycling center.  Learn about living responsibly.

12.Local newspaper.  Visit reporters and learn about the importance of clear, concise writing.

13.The courthouse.  See the justice system in action, a good social studies lesson.

14.Local churches, synagogues, mosques.  Kids need the stability of worship.

15.Planetarium.  If your community is fortunate enough to be near a planetarium, let your kids have the experience of seeing the universe in an unforgettable setting.

16.Trucking companies or the city maintenance department.  Kids love trucks.  Let them see how they’re maintained for safety.

17.Local post office.  See how the mail moves and is delivered.

18.Local community colleges, colleges, and universities.  Tour the campus and give the kids high expectations.

19.Local parks.  There’s much to do in parks – play, hike, study nature.

20.Local library.  Get a library card for each kid.

21.Children’s theatre company.  Lots of communities have a children’s theatre company.  See a show.

22.Symphony or concert hall.  If your community has a public music space, visit it and talk with the conductor about how music enriches our lives and helps us learn.

23.Don’t forget virtual field trips.  Most major museums have children’s tours on their web pages.  Check them out.

24.Other countries.  No, don’t hop a jet.  Just encourage pen-pals – either the snail mail or the email kind.  Kids love getting mail and writing back.  Encourage them to share information on their towns, cities, countries.


When they’re visiting any of these places, encourage the kids to take notes, to draw maps, to write about their experiences, to pursue scavenger hunts, and to have post-trip discussions.  Enjoy and learn!


The perfect weather is up to you.








4/12/2012 10:11:39 AM

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