Field trips expand children's learning through active hands-on
experience with the rich resources of the local community. Field trips increase
student knowledge and understanding of a subject and add realism to the topic
Good planning must precede field trips. Careful attention should
be given to trip selection, previsit preparation, the trip itself, appropriate
follow up, and evaluation. When considering a field trip, teachers are advised
to first consult with their administrator regarding existing school board policies
and follow those recommended procedures.
- Identify the rationale, objectives and plan of evaluation for the field
- Select the site to be visited. Contact the educational coordinator for
the site and arrange the date and time. Obtain the pre-trip information package
if one is available. Record addresses, directions, contact persons, phone
numbers, email addresses, etc.
- Conduct a pre-visit to familiarize yourself with the major features of
the field trip. Purchase postcards and posters. Take digital photographs to
share with students prior to the visit. Explore the exhibition(s) you plan
to visit to get ideas for pre field trip activities.
- Apply for administrative approval from departmental chairperson, curriculum
administrator, or building principal
- File requisition for bus transportation reservation
- Make arrangements for meal or sack lunch if needed
- Develop schedule for the day
- Arrange for special equipment -supplies, film, video camera, digital camera
- Prepare name tags for students and chaperones
- Collect money for admission fees
- Compose parent permission letter including
- Date and location of field trip and transportation arrangements
- Educational purpose of field trip
- Provision for special needs students
- Clothing for the trip
- Lunch arrangements
- Money needed
- Trip schedule
- Whether a child will need prescribed medication administered
- Parent signature
- Send a letter to parents or include in the class newsletter a request for
help as chaperones, communicate assigned duties/responsibilities, review field
trip objectives, and list activities and schedule.
- Provide alternative arrangements for pupils who will not be going on the
- Inform the cafeteria staff if students will be away during the lunch hour.
- Submit a list of students who will be attending the field trip to other
teachers if their schedules will be affected.
- Collect the money for the trip and deposit it in your school's account.
If required, send the advanced fee to the field trip site.
- Create a list of all student names and home phone numbers for use in an
Preparing Students Before the Trip
- Discuss the purpose of the field trip and how it relates to the current
unit of study.
- Introduce visual observation skills. Let students describe in detail ordinary
objects, like a paper clip, paintbrush, clothespin, or comb to their classmates.
- Introduce vocabulary words that will be used by docents during the tour.
- Show photographs or posters of the field trip site or related to exhibits
that will be viewed.
- Assign students "specialists" roles in one aspect of the topic
that they will be studying during the field trip. Students could be grouped
in different subject areas related to the field trip topic to research (e.g.,
history, art, religion, science, environment, etc).
- Explore the Website of the location you will be visiting.
- As a class brainstorm a set of standards of conduct for the trip and discuss
suggested spending money, lunch plans, appropriate clothing to wear for the
trip including gear for rainy weather.
- Discuss with students how to ask good questions and brainstorm a list of
open-ended observation questions to gather information during the visit. Record
questions on chart paper or in student field trip journals.
- Overview the field trip schedule.
Check all permission slips the day before the field trip.
Conducting the Trip
On the day of the trip:
- Pass out name tags
- Divide class into small groups and assign chaperones to groups
- Assign each student a partner
- Place a class list and student emergency forms in a folder
- Secure a cell phone if possible
- Take along an emergency kit
- Take inventory of food, specific equipment, and other supplies pertinent
to the particular field trip
Activities that will Occur During the Field Trip
Plan activities that allow students to work alone, in pairs or small groups.
Activities might include:
- Adventure game "Journey to the World of..."
- Mystery with clues provided
- Sketch pages with partial drawings of objects found in the exhibits for
students to complete the drawings based on their observations
- Peepholes in construction paper - cut different sized round holes in construction
paper and have students view a part of the exhibition through the peepholes.
Ask them to describe what they see, what they notice now that they missed
before, and how their perspective changes with each new view
- Field notebooks for recording answers to prepared questions based on clues
- Hand drawn postcards to write near the end of the tour that will summarize
the field trip visit
Provide time for students to observe, ask questions, and record key words,
ideas and phrases as journal entries in their Field book after viewing each
Ask follow-up questions as students make observations and listen to presentations.
- How are these two objects different from one another?
- What clues does this artifact provide about
- In what ways do these two objects relate to one another?
- If you could change one thing in this exhibit, what would it be?
- Pretend you are an archaeologist in the future who is observing this object.
What would you be able to conclude about the culture of the past?
- Expand the title or name of this object into a detailed caption (sentence
or paragraph) in your Field book.
- Describe the setting in which you might have found this object.
- Which object will be of greatest value in a hundred years? Why?
- List the objects in the exhibit order of the story they tell or usefulness.
- Which object took the most time and effort to produce?
- Pretend you are a character in this exhibit. Tell us as much as you can
about your life.
- What does this object tell us about the person's attitude toward...?
Schedule a particular segment of the field trip for a scavenger hunt where
students look for particular objects and record them in their Field book or
on an observation sheet.
Provide time for students to work in their Field Book writing questions, describing
favorite displays or making sketches of artifacts, structures, scenery, etc.
If they cannot complete their sketches, encourage them to label them for future
completion as to color, detail, etc.
Provide time for students to use (tape recorder, camcorder, digital camera)
for recording important resources viewed/heard.
Polling Activity: Blue Ribbon - Your Choice
After careful observation of an exhibit, ask students to discuss an exhibit
and vote on an artifact, artwork that they consider to be the most valuable
part of the exhibit they viewed. Then ask students to record one sentence in
their Field book describing why they felt the object was of key importance.
Post-Field Trip Activities
Just as quality pre-planning is essential to the success of a field trip, planning
for appropriate follow-up activities will facilitate student learning and multiply
the value of hands-on experiences outside the classroom. The following activities
provide a general guide when planning for post-field trip classroom experiences.
- Provide time for students to share general observations and reactions to
field trip experiences
- Share specific assignments students completed while on the field trip.
- Create a classroom bulletin board displaying materials developed or collected
while on the field trip.
- Develop a classroom museum that replicates and extends displays students
observed on the field trip. For example, if the field trip involved an art
museum, develop a classroom art museum containing student artwork.
- Link field trip activities to multiple curricular areas. For example, students
can develop vocabulary lists based on field trip observations; record field
trip observations in a classroom journal; complete math problems related to
actual field trip budget planning; etc.
- Share and evaluate student assignments/activities from the Field Book.
- Have the class compose and send thank-you letters to the field trip site
host, chaperones, school administrators and other persons that supported the
field trip. Include favorite objects or special information learned during
the field trip.
- Create a short news report about what happened on the field trip. Publicize
the trip via an article in your local newspaper, school bulletin board, trip
presentation for parent's night, or class Web page.
Evaluating the Trip
Complete a "Teacher Journal" regarding the field trip. This will
provide a good reference for future field trips.
- What was of unique educational value in this field trip?
- Did the students meet the objectives/expectations?
- Was there adequate time?
- Was there adequate staff and adult supervision?
- What might be done differently to make this an even better experience in
- What special points should be emphasized next time?
- What special problems should be addressed in the future?
- What would improve a visit to this site in the future?
Share the evaluation with the students, volunteers, hosts from the field trip
site, and school administrators.