Nothing is better, especially in the spring time, than a field trip. Here’s how to plan a field trip for your classroom that your kids are going to love.
My class has two trips this week, which brings excitement but also an interesting list of things to do to be ready. I was fortunate enough to have opportunities to take field trips with large groups of middle school and high school students before I was officially in charge of a class. This meant that by the time I walked into my first year of teaching and asked to do a field trip, I felt more than ready. This isn’t always the case with first year teachers, or even teachers who have experience! Here are a few tips and ideas for how to plan memorable, educational and low stress field trips.
How to plan a field trip:
1. Plan your field trip early!
I have had these brilliant dates or places picked for field trips, only to find out that they booked up weeks or months earlier. You may need to have advance planning for your bus too. I definitely had a trip planned during student teaching, had a BIG miscommunication with my cooperating teacher and definitely was calling every bus company in the city the afternoon before the trip! No worries, it worked out but definitely could’ve been avoided!
2. Know your kids
Trips are so difficult at the beginning of the year. I personally will not take a field trip until after Christmas break, unless I don’t have the choice. Waiting this long gives you time to learn your curriculum, schedule and school field trip protocol, but most importantly it gives you time to learn your kids. A field trip can go from great to miserable pretty quickly if you incorrectly group the kids.
3. Know your parents
Knowing the kids is one thing, but knowing the parents has helped so much on field trips. Some parents are great, but don’t want to help with field trips. Some parents are really willing to help but aren’t always the best for trips. Don’t worry about being selective with who you take on trips! I always keep the kids in mind and want someone fun for them but someone I trust to maintain my same expectations. Be proactive and ask the parents before you present the trip to the class so that you have the best shot at having the best support!
4. Pack your supplies
Be prepared for any situation that might come up. I always pack a great first aid kit, granola bars for snacks (for yourself and the kids!), and don’t forget something to carry everything in. I always use a drawstring backpack because its light weight and easy to fold up if its empty. Here’s a really great cheap draw string backpack on Amazon.
5. Have fun!
You, yes you! Be the leader, be the planner, be the teacher, but lead by example and interact with the trip. Have I fallen into the luxury of someone else teaching my kids and I fade away into the back of the group? Absolutely, but then I look at who the kids are really watching and it is almost always still me. Engage with the leaders of the trip, ask questions, encourage the kids, touch the (gross) frog in the woods if it means a student is then brave enough to do it too!
Field trips are one of my favorite things to be able to do during the school year because it provides learning opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t happen, but maximize the time to give you time with your students to connect that can’t always happen in the classroom too! Academics+high expectations+strong relationships=student success, both inside and outside of the classroom!