Does your school have loads of money to send your students on fascinating field trips monthly? No? Mine neither. If it weren't for free field trips, we wouldn't have ever been out of the classroom.
Although I like to incorporate field trips throughout the year, the end of the year is the perfect time to step up my free field trips. The students know the state testing is over. They know I have already done the end-of-year assessments. To keep the calm and keep the learning going, I go on free field trips.
Free? How's that? Visit local businesses and offices. Let me explain.
- Public Library. Your school probably has a library, but does your town/city? Our little town does. I used to take my kiddos every year. If you go towards the end of the school year, the librarian will probably talk to them about their upcoming summer reading program.
- Grocery Store. I know a lot of schools do this field trip to see the back doors of the grocery store. I have done this too, but I was never sure what the kids actually learned. So, I used Project-Based Learning to make it engaging and reinforcing of Math concepts.
- Gym/Fitness Center. Although the kids are not allowed to use the equipment (insurance requirements), the manager put on a power point presentation talking to them about the importance of exercise. He then taught them a few exercises they could do at home with household items.
- Police Department. Yes, you read that right. I LOVE doing this field trip right before summer break. They get to see the 911 call center and see how serious a 911 call is. I actually show them the jail cell. It's not pretty.
- Post Office. We go in the back and saw the inner workings. To make this field trip more pertinent to them, I write each child a letter and address it: Student Name, General Delivery, Name of Town, State, Zip Code. At the end of the field trip, they stand in line and pick up their own mail!
- Fire Department. Again, nothing new here. Lots of schools do this. We make thank you cards to our local fire department before we go there and are able to hand deliver them.
- Letterboxing. One of my FAVE's! I was able to incorporate research into this one. If you haven't tried this yet (even just for personal fun), you have got to try it.
- Hike. We have a mountain behind our school. We have used the hike for team building, science (weathering and erosion), and community service (replanting).
- Parade. Huh? Parade? Yes. Your kids can make a banner for the theme. A co-worker got the last spot in the parade. His students walked with trash bags and collected trash along the route and from the spectators.
- T-Shirt Shop. We have a small screenprinting shop nearby. The kids get to see the whole process from design to printing.
- Geocaching. This is similar to Letterboxing (#7), but instead of a compass, you use a GPS. I think any activity like this has so many benefits and can be cross-curricular. Make it even more engaging by having the students make their own geocache.
- Music. Our local community (albeit small) has an orchestra. They have formal concerts for a price, but they also offer a free concert once/year for local students. They have done a wonderful job in the last few years of providing the teachers with lesson plans, websites, and a CD of the music that will be played for them. It never fails, I always worry about my students being well-behaved in a formal setting. Yet, they are always, ALWAYS, the best behaved in the auditorium. They make me so proud every year. In fact, last year, one of my students answered a question correctly, that he won the prize. What was the prize? His teacher, moi, got to go on stage and be the conductor for "The Stars and Stripes Forever". I even got to keep the baton. :) Your local band/orchestra might be willing to do the same to keep the love of music alive in young children.
Where do you go for field trips?