The best field trips in life are free.
If you’re lucky enough to have a budget for field trips this year, most of them are already penciled in on the calendar. But there’s always room for a couple of quick, seasonal trips to enhance and extend your classroom lessons. Enlist the help of room parents if you can. Lessonplansplus has some amazing resources for planning field trips. If you can find an educational trip that both extends classroom learning and costs absolutely nothing, congratulations, you’ve struck gold!
Certainly, the most memorable field trips are those that can drive home an important concept in the curriculum. Going to the zoo just for the sake of going to the zoo is a missed opportunity to add value and dimension to the work you do in the classroom. For a different spin, bundle up your students and visit your local zoo in the winter and learn first-hand about hibernation, and scarce food and water resources.
But, as we all know, it’s the freebie that is really satisfying. Think about the resources you have within walking distance of your school, to eliminate transportation costs.
- Visit a local greenhouse in the spring, when everything is beginning to bloom. Or pump it up by visiting a greenhouse full of gorgeous poinsettias in early winter, when you can really demonstrate the value of microclimates. Bonus: this makes for a stunning holiday classroom photo; add a red ribbon and you’ve got a wonderful gift parents will love!
- Tour a local grocery store, set it up for when there is a big shipment of milk arriving from the dairy, and talk about supply and demand.
- Visit a children’s hospital and make someone’s day with a class song or choral reading…the goose bumps are free, too.
- Visit a bird sanctuary, pond or preserve, and discuss habitat.
- Take a SHAPE walk through your neighborhood. Look for different shapes, colors or materials in the buildings, depending on the age of your students. Older students can try to determine what organic materials are found in building materials.
- Visit a nursing home at Halloween! The residents are so grateful to see children in costume. Bring sugar free candies or cookies and leave behind some snapshots for the bulletin board.
- Visit your local high school. Small children will marvel at the big school and big students.
- Contact your city maintenance division to take a tour of the city trucks; learn about the jobs they do for their citizens. Snowplow, street sweeper, gravel trucks, etc.
- One of the best free field trips for children of all ages is the Jiffy Mills tour in Chelsea, Michigan. This family-owned business offers a terrific tour of the factory; children choose their favorite mixes to take home. You can find more factory tours at Factory Tours USA.
The Field Trip Factory offers many ideas you can use yourself, or even helps you find funding for your trip. Lessonplansplus.com suggests checking Trip Advisor for more ideas in your area; it is a travel site with a “Things to do” section with helpful suggestions ranked by members.
For many more ideas about extending the classroom to optimize learning for your students, download our free guide.