Bringing the Field Trip Back to the Classroom

Prairie platformSpring is the season for field trips. Hopping on a bus bound for the museum or zoo can be a welcome change from working in a classroom all day. Field trips also present exciting ways for students to make connections between what they learn in class and what is happening out in the world.

But what if the field trip didn’t have to end once everyone arrived back at school? Consider this forward-thinking trend in field trips: Extending the learning opportunities by bringing the destination back to the classroom.

For instance, your students may have the chance to visit a living museum that details life during pioneer days or some other period in history. Find out if a few of the performers can visit your class, in costume, to provide even more information. A fun idea is to have the performers stay in character while they are interacting with the students.

This same concept works if your class journeys to a park or nature preserve. In addition to exploring, kids will hopefully receive outdoor lessons in things like insects, plants, trees, and even the dirt. Wouldn’t it be fascinating for the students if a staff member from the park showed up in class with cool samples and specimens for the kids to examine at their desks?

If you’re interested in developing these types of learning adventures for your own class, it’s helpful to know where to start. Along with obtaining the proper clearance from your school’s administration, consider these options for extending the field trip experience:

  1. Partner with a nearby museum. While you’re working with your museum contact on which exhibits your students will visit, ask if a staffer can visit the school for a follow-up lesson in drawing or painting. If the museum is more about science or hands-on activities, try to duplicate an experiment or structure in class.
  2. Check with your city’s parks department. Most parks departments strive to provide places that encourage kids to be active and creative. Find a contact person who can set up both a field trip and an activity that will be brought to your classroom.
  3. Collaborate with two places. For example, plan to go to a zoo and also contact a wildlife organization. After visiting the zoo where students viewed animals from behind a fence or glass wall, it may be possible to have a professional come to your school and display reptiles and other animals up close.

Other ideas include taking a train to the field trip’s location and then having someone visit the classroom to showcase model trains and explain how they work. Even a simple outing to a movie or a play can be extended by having a drama teacher visit the classroom to explain stage direction and create short and fun skits with the kids.

Be creative when thinking about field trips and the concept of bringing the destination back to the classroom.  These types of lessons that take place both inside and outside of school have the potential to really enhance a student’s educational opportunities.