Planning the perfect Field Trip is a lot like cooking a gourmet cake. You can’t just toss all the ingredients into a pan and hope that a delectable 7-layer masterpiece comes out of the oven. It takes a smidgen of this and a pinch of that – and many hours of research, organization and pre-planning to end up with a field trip that is both enjoyable AND educational for your group. Yes, a daunting task – but NJ Kids is ready to help! We’ll give you the right tools, add in a healthy dose of creativity, and voila – you’ll have the perfect, step-by-step recipe for a memorable field trip!
Step One: 1 Part Detective:
Be a detective! Get out your handy-dandy notebook and have some fun. You’re in the planning stages and you’ve got to think like a detective and ask who, what, where, when, why, how and why.
- Who: Who is the trip for and how many people will be attending?
- What: What sort of trip is best for your group? A museum, historical site, play, team building camp?
- Where: Where should you go; what places would be good? Or is there an in school assembly that best suits your needs?
- When: When is a good time to go? How long is the trip?
- Why: Why are you going on a trip – what do you hope to teach them and what will they learn?
- How: How will you pay for the trip? How will you get there? How will the trip augment your lesson?
Of course these are only the first important questions – they are only the start. And don’t just scratch the surface – the answers might seems logical and easy, but dig deeper and get ready for Step 2…
Step Two: 1 Part Creativity
Many times, schools, PTOs and other organizations simply repeat the same field trips and assemblies year after year, finding it far easier to stick with a proven entity rather than trying something new and unknown. Unfortunately, this can become stale – to both the teachers and leaders and the students or group members. Take for example, the 5th grade teachers at a Union county elementary school – each year the same speaker was brought in to talk to the kids about the Holocaust. Although the speaker was excellent and the kids were always very interested in what she had to say – after awhile, the teachers, having heard the same speech for several years in a row, were losing their energy and desire. Until last year - when someone suggested they find a new, fresh way to this particular lesson. After a bit of research and planning, the entire grade was on their way into NYC for a visit to the Holocaust Museum in Battery Park. Same subject, different approach.
- Be creative and think out of the box: Studying the solar system? There are planetariums and museums, but there are also art labs that can help your group create a paper mache solar system. Looking for a way to recreate the Revolutionary War? Visit a Battlefield, a time period home…or take a team building class and learn how each ‘soldier’ plays an important role in the entire battle.
- Ask your group or fellow teachers and leaders for suggestions. – fresh minds lead to fresh ideas.
- Think like a kid - what would inspire your students? What would they like to do?
Step Three: 1 Part Pre-Planning
Once you’ve ironed out where you and your group will be going, it’s time to solidify the details. Get yourself a pen and paper and start a checklist. Here are some of the points that need to be covered:
- Obtain administrative approval
- Get a permission slip for group members
- Contact bus company (if needed)
- Touch base with the educational contact of the site to arrange for guides or material
- Map out a schedule and the lesson plan for the day of the visit
- Present the students with the major points of the lesson plan to familiarize them with they will be studying at the site
- Organize any material that you will bring from school or home to help enhance the trip (scavenger hunts, essay questions, drawing materials, etc.)
- Fundraise, if necessary
Step Four Mix all Ingredients Together
Once you’ve done all the pre-trip planning, fundraising and research – you’re ready to go! Just remember to double-check your itinerary, goal, financing and ask lots and lot of questions. Sure it’s a lot of work – many times these trips are planned up to six months in advance. But once you’ve done all of this – and added all the ingredients and mixed them together - you are set to head off on a fantastic Field Trip!