by Rachel Stepp
With cutbacks and limitations to money for field trips, it is easy to lose the desire to plan successful field trips for your classes. Here are few ideas for trips that you might want to use this upcoming school year:
Visit a local farm this season. Usually, farmers are willing to give students tours of their farms and allow students to pick some of their own vegetables and fruits. Also, students love to see farm animals and get to participate in animal care. For example, during the fall, students might enjoy going to a pumpkin farm. This will let them learn about science (vegetables, farming, insects, weather), social studies (economy, careers), and more.
Most communities have local parks where students can explore nature while also exercising and playing team sports. By calling your local park services, you can find out whether or not your nature parks have guided tours or nature trails. Parks with archeological backgrounds or monuments add character to park trips. After your students have explored the park and its contents, then they can have a picnic or play sports. A rousing game of kickball or softball is a great class team builder, too!
3. Grocery Store
Most of your students have probably been to the grocery store with their parents or guardians, but they probably have not been behind the scenes. Contact your local store and ask them if they conduct group tours. Students can see the bakery and warehouse areas of a grocery store. Give your students a budget as they learn to calculate money. Make fake checkbooks for your students so that they can practice writing checks after they have collected the items from their grocery lists. Maybe your grocery store will also allow your students to scan their own groceries and pretend to be a cashier! To end the field trip, buy a simple snack to take back to the classroom and discuss the different aspects of the store.
Many young people are growing up without exposure to checks or cash because of the popularity of debit and credit cards. Plan a trip to a bank so that students can learn about checks, the history of American currency, counting money and more. This would be a great trip to take while students are learning about creating their own budgets and how to manage money! This will be a step into the real world that will teach them life long skills and possibilities.
If it is not possible to actually leave the school for a field trip, you can take your students on a virtual field trip! It is simple to find images and videos on the Internet of places around your community, state and even the world. Once you find these elements, combine them into a presentation that you can show students. While exploring images and videos, bring food, objects, or smells that coordinate with your presentation to make the experience more lifelike. If possible, you can decorate different classrooms in your school that students can explore as if they were different parts of your field trip location. In each room, students can participate in various activities such as dances, crafts, cooking and foreign language. This field trip option allows for classes to go further than ever before…you could even go to space!
Ask your students what they are interested about within their community to get ideas. Also, see if it is possible for your class to walk on their field trip to cut costs. These field trips will not only broaden your students’ horizons, but they will also introduce possible career paths…all without taxing your school’s tight budget.
Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at the University of Georgia, currently working on a Masters in Early Childhood Education.