Field trips were always the highlight of my students’ year! They make such a big impact on each student’s school experience and are so memorable. While we get to enjoy exposing our little learners to some new experiences, field trips don’t come with hassle and headaches. Did everyone turn in their permission slips and money? Will everyone remember to wear the right color? How do you pack lunches? I get it! Today I’m going to share my favorite field trip tips to make your class’s adventure successful and as stress-free as possible!
Field Trip Tip # 1: Motivate students to help you prepare for the field trip.
After planning and getting approval for a field trip, the next step is to start preparing. I loved getting students involved in the preparation because they were motivated to get things turned in.
For example, first I would give them a sneak peek of where we were going and what to expect. I’d try to leave some elements of surprise though. Then, I would print out a picture of where we were going and do shared writing activity on a poster. Each student would share what they were excited about or questions they may have. Now that they were good and excited, I’d send home the permission slips that day so they would remember to be sure their parents saw them.
Next, when students would bring in their signed permission slips (and money if needed), they would get to sign the poster we made previously. This made students super excited to get to sign their names. Plus, it made it easy for me to see who still needed to bring in their forms.
Tip # 2: Color coordinate your class.
Trust me, this is one of my top field trip tips for a reason. It may sound cliche to color coordinate on field trips, but it was a must for me! Depending on your field trip location, there is most likely going to be lots of other people and children running around. Being able to easily spot my kiddos made such a difference. Each class in our grade would pick a different color to make it easy to keep classes separated for counting.
Tip # 3: Explicitly discuss rules and expectations.
Take the time before the day of your field trip to explicitly discuss rules and expectations. We don’t want their experience to be ruined by unacceptable behaviors, so make it clear what they should do while on this trip. We also want them to stay as safe as possible. If you have chaperones attending, be sure to let them know what your expectations are as well. Remember to praise good behavior while you’re on the field trip for reinforcement.
Tip # 4: Delegate jobs where you can.
I’ve been on campuses where parents were allowed to help chaperone and ones where they were not. If you have parents attending, delegate where you can. For example, can a responsible parent be designated to bring a cooler with wheels (or wagon) for lunches? Can someone else be responsible for the lunches for you until lunchtime? Can you assign a parent to be the caboose if you are going to walk around as a whole class? Do you have responsible parents who could take on a few students alone in a small group?
If you have help, get creative with using it. Just remember to give chaperones class lists, your phone number, a schedule, and any other important information they may need.
Tip # 5: Label your students.
Now, this is one of the field trip tips that has evolved over time. We used to put student names on labels, and then put labels on shirts. Now we don’t want to put students’ names on their shirts so they’re less likely to be lured away in a dangerous situation. Rather, put your school’s name and phone number (or your phone number) on a label for each student. I liked to place the label on their back so they couldn’t mess with them.
Tip # 6: Count, count, and count some more.
Count your students anytime you move from one place to another. Getting off the bus? Count the kids. Finishing a restroom break? Count the kids. Moving from one area to another? Yes, count the kids. One way to shorten how high you have to count each time is to give students a partner. A few days before the field trip, assign students their partners and practice walking in the hallway in pairs. This always helped my students remember who their partner was on field day.
Tip # 7: Have an easy activity planned for returning.
This is one of the often forgotten field trip tips I want to remind you of! When you get back to your campus after a field trip, you are going to have some worn-out students (several of mine always fell asleep on the bus ride back). Be sure to plan an activity students can do that is easy and simple. It could be independent reading. It could be writing in their journals about their day. You just want something that isn’t complicated or too difficult to complete after an exhausting day.
I hope these field trip tips will help make the day memorable (in a positive way!) and as stress-free as field trips can be. This may be one of the best school days for your students, so let’s make it a great one!
Resources for Building Background Knowledge for Field Trips
One of my final field trip tips I want to sneak in is to remember to build background knowledge for your students on whatever the field trip topic may be. I have several resources that are great to use prior to going on a field trip.
If you are going somewhere like the pumpkin patch or a farm, I have science units that integrate literacy that would be perfect to use.
If you are going to a children’s museum, perhaps the Being a Scientist unit will help them prepare to think like scientists while they explore.