Want to add excitement and adventure to your field trip? Want to make learning new skills and concepts fun while reinforcing classroom topics? Want a trip that is memorable for the kids and for the school? Don’t get trapped in following your predecessors or don’t just “go with the flow’. Be creative, be thoughtful and you’ll stand out amongst your peers. It certainly takes some serious planning and teamwork to reach a successful well-focused field trip. Here are 5 pre-trip steps on how maximize the learning value of any field trip. This applies to planning assemblies as well.
The secret to planning a focused field trip is to make connections between the trip and your curriculum, learning goals and other projects. There are a few steps here.
Have a curriculum for the term ready, or at least an idea of the major concepts you’ll be working on. Will you be focusing on one main topic or will you be involving multiple concepts - from math, science, language and history to life skills. Trips have to be integrated into the big picture so that their lessons aren’t lost. A trip to an amusement park will always be fun, but with planning and preparation, it can also be a vehicle for learning about topics ranging from engineering to why we have to obey the rules. Ask,
Or you may even build your curriculum around your field trip(s) by listing an overview of all the field trips you might take during the term.
Research and create a list of Field Trips: Think of places to visit, and then con- sider each prospective place next to the list of concepts your lessons are focused on. Once you have many ideas for possible field trips, you and your team can begin to narrow down the list. For each idea, ask,
Every field trip presents a host of learning opportunities, which is why it’s so important to focus on the goals and write them on paper. Otherwise, you may miss the reason why you are there and the core concepts to learn may be so diffuse that they won’t register with the children. Writing down goals will help to ensure that field trips reinforce larger learning objectives, and to think through projects and activities associated with the field trip.
You must involve staff and the children in the planning process so that they feel a sense of ownership. Everyone must understand the objectives, goals and their roles.
Remember that you have separate audiences to engage—the kids, of course, but also your leaders, counselors and helpers. For each audience, your planning should cover the three stages of a field trip: the pre-trip, the field trip itself, and the post-trip.
Visiting the location in advance of the trip is a smart idea. You will uncover new learning opportunities, staffing needs, and find supporting
literature to take back to the class. It will also identify opportunities and challenges before the kids get there as well as help establish logistics, such as the location of bathrooms, dining options, first aid, etc. You may find onsite specialists who you can engage for interviews during the trip. Maybe you’ll find out that the destination is not appropriate for your group.
Work any collected materials into class activities in preparation for the trip. Below are some other ways to get kids prepared and excited in the days before the trip:
For elementary aged kids:
Other higher level activities for middle schoolers and high schoolers:
During the day of the trip, be prepared with some key activities to enhance the experience while keeping in mind that the trip is supposed to be fun of course. Make assignments short. Here are some ideas:
POST TRIP - the planning doesn’t stop here.
The sky’s the limit on post trip projects. Classroom discussion and group think work begins. You can build web pages, presentations or write articles for the school newspaper, create a class bulletin that includes pictures, videos and writing. Just be sure not to miss the opportunity to use the trip on mastering skills and tying everything back to the goals of the field trip and key concepts.
Click on the fieldtrip tab for more ideas.