General, Teaching

Organizing Your First Field Trip!

Organizing field trips

Looking back on my own school experience, I remember field trips being a fun, get out of school day.  It meant no homework, no sitting in my seat all day, and most importantly, I got to talk and play with my friends!  Never once did I think I was being lectured or quizzed on the subject matter–I was just enjoying the day.  Now, as an educator, I see the value in taking students out of the classroom and into the world.  There are things we just can’t get across to them in a school setting, no matter how hard we try; things they need to experience and be a part of on their own. When school budgets get tight, field trips and other “extra” activities are usually the first to go. However, taking your students on a meaningful class outing may just be the most influential lesson you give all year. No matter the age, no matter the grade, students will benefit from real life experiences and first-hand play. If you haven’t done one before, this is a quick overview on how to do your first field trip!

Where do I start?

Talk to your building principal and see where you stand as far as money goes.  Having a number in mind will help you weed out different ideas. Then, ask yourself what you want your students to get out of the trip.  You want them to have fun, yes, but you also want this experience to leave an imprint, so ask yourself what you can do to make it meaningful.

Take advantage of what is near you. Dig into your town’s history and see what can be paired with your curriculum.  If nothing jumps out at you, contact local groups that may be able to help you.  When I was teaching about refugees I contacted a nearby refugee center, and I was able to orchestrate a meeting as well as a presentation to my classes at no cost. Free is a great way to try out a first field trip!

Depending on the content you teach and the age of your students, your options will vary of course.  If you have elementary kids, taking them to an orchard, the zoo, the circus, or an ice skating rink will be effective because they are being pushed beyond their normal social limits, they are using problem-solving skills (depending on what you have them do), and you could have them reflect and write about it after they return, which engages the literary component.

Middle and high school kids should visit places that will enhance their minds and expand their creative side. Take them to Escape Rooms, where they will have to use problem-solving skills, teamwork, and often math in order to get out.  Go to a theme park and have your students conduct calculations on the roller coasters and other rides.  You could also contact the park to see if they would give your class a behind the scenes look at how the park operates for those kids that might have business or management in mind. That same idea would work for visiting a newspaper, television, or radio station.

Other possible destinations:

  1. Firehouse –  Learn about the job, the lifestyle, and the risk. You could definitely work out some math or science lessons with this one.
  2. Factory – Whether it’s a manufacturing facility or a food processing plant, students will get an inside look at where the things they use/eat every day comes from. This could be inclusive of all disciplines by equating the amounts needed for the production, analyzing the physics aspect, researching the history of factories or looking into the industrial revolution, or pairing this with literature such as The Jungle or The Omnivore’s Dilemma.
  3. State Parks – Learn about nature and the environment you live in.
  4. See a Play – Theater has the ability to open up the mind of the shyest child. Many children and teenagers never see a quality performance, which makes enrichment activities such as this so important. See a performance of a book or play you read as a class, focus on dialogue or study it through the lens of public speaking.
  5. Museums – Make museums fun by turning it into a scavenger hunt. Scope out the place beforehand and write up a list for a scavenger or treasure hunt, and pair students together to figure out where to look and how to infer your clue!

If your school has the budget to fund an even more elaborate trip, take it!  Giving students, many of which will never have the opportunity to travel with their own families, the chance to be exposed to something outside their realm of reality is vital. Opening their eyes to different places and ideas is how we help them find their path in life. If you haven’t organized a field trip in the past, I encourage you to try one out!

This article is written by Lauren Bubb, an English Teacher at Frankfort-Schuyler Central Schools

To reach Lauren, please contact here.

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