This guest post comes to us from Amanda Pauley, the teacher and voice behind the blog Mrs. Pauley’s Kindergarten.
Finding the Right Field Trip
I am a kindergarten teacher in Illinois. I have been teaching for seven years. Each year I planned at least one field trip for both my grade level partner and myself.
I know from experience that sometimes teachers choose field trips based on nothing other than convenience. You see a flyer in the teacher’s lounge and think, “Hmmm……we haven’t been on a field trip yet this year. This looks good!” I don’t know about you, but I like to choose meaningful, fun, and educational field trips for my students. Doing this though can sometimes seem like a daunting and challenging task. I am here to give you some pointers to make this task a little easier for you.
1. Choose a field trip that enhances your students’ learning on a topic.
I always look at the units of study that I teach each year and see if there is a field trip I can take that will enhance their learning. For example, if you cover farm animals within your curriculum, you may want to take a field trip to a farm.
I know this seems like a simple idea, but sometimes it can be hard to do. Field Trip Factory has made this task easier for you. When you access their site, you will see the first question they ask is “What do you want to teach?” There is a simple pull down menu of topics for you to choose from.
2. Plan ahead.
Some teachers only have the opportunity to go on field trips at certain times of the year. If this pertains to you, then you will need to plan ahead to see what field trips are available for the time of year. For example, we always take a field trip in May. Unfortunately, not every field trip we want to take is available that month. We plan all of this ahead of time. Sometimes, we even plan for this at the beginning of the year as we create our timeline for the year. (Granted, this is a loose timeline as things can easily change).
If you do not plan ahead, you might miss out on an exciting educational experience for your students. As a young teacher, I have made that mistake and waited to plan a field trip. Then I sadly realized that there was no more space available for my class to take the field trip. It left me feeling defeated. Don’t let this happen to you. Think about what field trips you want to take and plan ahead for them!
3. Check with your administration.
Every school and district has different requirements for scheduling field trips, but it is important that you check with your administration before scheduling your field trip. I like to research which field trips I would like to take my class on and then present the information to my principal. He has to approve the field trip as well as someone from our central office. Sometimes this can take awhile so I always make sure I plan ahead!
4. What is the cost?
Does your school pay for the entire field trip? Will your students have to pay for a portion of the field trip? Can you only go on free field trips?
These are very important questions to think about. My school does not pay for field trips so either my students have to pay for their field trip or we go on free field trips. In my district, we cannot ask students to pay more than $5.00 per field trip. This can restrict our options greatly, but I don’t let that get me down. I have many conversations with the field trip coordinators to see if they would be willing to lower their rates so my students could attend their field trip.
Many times, we are able to work out something manageable for all involved. It never hurts to ask especially if you are under monetary restrictions like myself. In cases that I have not been able to work out something, I have gone to our parent teacher organization and asked them to donate the amount over the $5.00 so our students can go on a field trip. They are usually gladly willing to help us out.
I hope I have given you some food for thought on field trip planning. I am a planner by nature so I enjoy working out all the details of field trips, but I know many people dread it. If that describes you, just follow my four simple tips and your field trip planning should be a snap!