MAT Blog

Field trip grants take students on a journey to authentic learning.

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Aug 16, 2012 9:10:00 AM

Children_Riding_School_BusAlthough field trips may have taken a dip in popularity recently due to a lack of funding, these valuable extensions of the classroom do not have to be left out of your planning! Luckily, increasing numbers of organizations offer field trip grants in an effort to help teachers provide authentic learning experiences beyond their own the classroom.

The application process may seem daunting, but once you have received your first field trip grant, we’re certain you'll be looking for more ways to plan free field trips for your very grateful students.

Free Field Trips for Student Learning

There are some important tips you should follow in order to increase your chances of receiving grant money from various organizations: 

  1. Do an Online Search. Many of the free field trips available to your students are waiting right in your very own community - or nearby.  Type in search terms like "Field Trip Grants Michigan" or "Columbus OH Field Trip Grants" and dozens of options will appear, just for the clicking.

  2. Make Some Phone Calls.  Start calling local organizations and businesses, such as the Rotary Club, Kiwanis, Chamber of Commerce, museums, art galleries, local grocery stores, anyone at all - and ask about field trip grants. There could be some extra grant money lurking in their bank accounts.  Or, you may be a source of field trip grant inspiration.  Many organizations know education funding is tight, but they may not realize just how little is available for field trips these days. Upon hearing your plight, some organizations may even be excited to create a field trip grant fund - and your class could be the first lucky recipient!

  3. Go Corporate. Many large corporations make it their policy to give back to the community, which means they could offer field trip grants as part of their outreach programs. Some examples of these include:
  4. Think Outside the Box. This is where teachers can begin to practice what they preach.  Search for any kind of grants or funding that applies to education.  Even if they don't state "free field trips for sale" that doesn't mean your creative application can't be worded in such a way that their grant can be used to fund your field trip ideas.

  5. Forget Applying On Time. Apply Early! Many of the deadlines for grant applications (as you may have noticed in tip #3) are due the spring or summer preceding the academic year they will be used.  While you may not be in time for some of this year's field trip grants, you now have plenty of time to brainstorm and prepare for next year's application deadlines.

  6. Follow the Directions. Make sure that you follow all of the instructions.  It may sound ridiculous but simple errors and omissions are going to throw your grant application right into the circular file for organizations that are sifting through hundreds, or even thousands, of applications.

  7. Enlist a Proofreader.  It is probably wise to have someone else proofread your application and/or essays and letters. This is especially true if you are applying for multiple grants.  It's easy to get lost in the repetitive information and it's better for mistakes to be caught early.

Field trip grants are the community's way of saying they care about the work teachers are doing. Start applying for field trip grants and bring back the excitement of free field trips for your students! Also check out some more free ideas about extending learning outside of the classroom by downloading our FREE Extension of The Classroom Guide.  


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Tags: Extension of the Classroom, field trips

Extensions of the Classroom: Fruits of your Classroom Labors

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Oct 11, 2011 5:10:00 AM

As we’ve discussed in previous posts, an extension of the classroom is simply a way to support what is being taught by a teacher in class when a student is outside of class: at home, on vacation or on a field trip. In a daily lesson plan, teachers can recommend and encourage an extension for what the child is learning.

Extensions may involve an outside resource such as a computer lab, the library, or even parents who are willing to help a child with extra activities. Sometimes an extension of the classroom can make all the difference to a student who is struggling with a lesson. Tactile learners, for example, need to touch and feel a concept before it is truly absorbed.

We'd like to follow up on last week's post about extending the classroom through field trips with this new video blog. Since I recently had the opportunity to attend a field trip to the apple orchard with my daughter, Sedona, I was interested to see how her teacher would tie the trip to classroom discussions or experiences.

The connection was obvious as I started to see the groundwork being laid in the week prior to the trip. One day, Sedona brought a project home that she eagerly explained; it told a story about the process of planting and growing an apple tree.

Sedona may not yet grasp the finer details about germination or pollination, but she sure understands the general process and has connected her understanding to the physical world around her. The extension of the classroom is less about mastery and more about establishing an authentic connection between in-class learning and the real world. Remember to always link motivational activities, like an "apple unit" to state standards, learning outcomes and developmentally appropriate practice. 

For more apple theme or “apple unit” ideas, many teachers love Teaching Heart.

The weather in Michigan is never predictable, but we could not have asked for a more beautiful day! Take a look at our video where Sedona explains how we end up with apples. And when you’re done, make sure you download our Free Extension of the Classroom Guide. It’s packed with creative, time-saving approaches from world class teachers. Have a great fall and make the most of your opportunity to extend the classroom for your learners.

 -Dreu Adams, Director of eCommerce Marketing, Marygrove College Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) Program

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Tags: downloads, Extension of the Classroom, standards-based outcomes, K-12 classroom, apple unit, free field trips, daily lesson pla

The best field trips in life are free.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Oct 1, 2011 6:20:00 AM

field trip marygrove college MATIf 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. 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.

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Tags: classroom lessons, curriculum, download, free guide, Extension of the Classroom, field trips

Engage Parents Throughout the Year For Homework Success.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Sep 29, 2011 11:00:00 AM

engaged parent assisting with homeworkAt Back-to-School nights all across the country, many K-12 teachers take the opportunity to communicate their classroom and district homework policies to parents. Here are two perplexing issues for your consideration:


Despite our best efforts at clear communication, many teachers receive homework questions from parents in the days and weeks following Back-to-School night.  Prepare yourself well this year, to get maximum cooperation from parents and optimal results from your students.  

The US Department of Education hosts a site with helpful homework hints for parents:This site explains what teachers already know: homework, when used properly, offers students the chance to

  • review and practice what they've covered in class
  • get ready for the next day's class
  • learn to use resources, such as libraries, reference materials and websites to find information about a subject
  • explore subjects more fully than classroom time permits
  • extend learning by applying skills they already have to new situations
  • integrate their learning by applying many different skills to a single task, such as book reports or science projects.

Homework also can help students develop good study habits and positive attitudes. It can

  • teach them to work independently
  • encourage self-discipline and responsibility

In addition, homework can help create greater understanding between families and teachers and provide opportunities for increased communication.

Communication Creates Engagement

We encourage you to communicate regularly with parents. Some schools schedule several informational parent events throughout the year, in an effort to narrow the teacher-parent gap. Establishing a good rapport with parents by using routine, clear communication will make all the difference to you, if and when a problem arises.

To help get things off on the right foot, offer a variety of ways for parents to get involved. Not every parent can volunteer on-site during the school day, and not every parent can afford to buy items for the classroom.Think about off-site tasks or projects parents can do to help the class, and offer ways to volunteer that ask for nothing except the value of a parent’s time.

Send notes home and make phone calls on a regular schedule. Elementary teachers who write two notes or make two phone calls each school day will contact every child's parents at least once a month. Secondary teachers with larger class loads can follow the same schedule and stay in contact at least once a quarter. Remember to contact the parents when students are successful - don't call only to report a problem. Positive communication creates an environment of trust which pays dividends when there is a challenge.

Engaging parents plus assigning meaningful homework is a powerful combination that will add up to successful results for your students! We offer a Guide for Teachers with creative ways to extend your classroom for optimal success. We guarantee you’ll find new, time-saving ways to attack old problems!


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Photo Credit: Peter Gene


Tags: download, Classroom Climate, Marygrove MAT, Extension of the Classroom, MAT Program, back-to-school, Homework, Parent Engagement, Homework Tips,, district policies

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