Top 10 Free Field Trips

Field trips are not only an invaluable way for students to learn outside the normal framework of academia, they're also fun! However, the cost of these trips can be prohibitive, especially with dwindling Federal and state budgets. Try our ideas for a free "field trip": from virtual visits to faraway places, to a stroll through your school cafeteria, we have plenty of ideas to keep your students engaged in learning. New teachers and those in less-funded districts will find this resource particularly valuable.
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Cafeteria Workers, Janitors, Groundskeepers & Secretaries
Cafeteria Workers, Janitors, Groundskeepers & Secretaries

It's easy to forget that you have vital community employees right in your own school building. Take your students on a "trip" to the cafeteria to see the cafeteria workers in action. Students can write up a list of questions for the staff members, such as the difference between cooking for a family versus hundreds of students. You can also visit the secretaries to find out how many phone calls are made to the school each day or the school groundskeeper to ask about cultivating a garden. Students can then follow-up with reports or short stories about the jobs.

Visit the White House Via the Internet
Visit the White House Via the Internet

No bus ride to Washington, D.C. necessary. In this printable, students use the Internet to complete a scavenger hunt of the White House. In addition to learning navigation skills, students learn about basic Internet terminology, email, and global addresses. Plus, they get to learn about one of the most popular destinations in the United States without spending a dime!

Virtual Field Trip: The Underground Railroad
Virtual Field Trip: The Underground Railroad

Go on a virtual field trip of Underground Railroad sites in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Share the rich history of this colonial town with your students, and explore its integral role in the network used by fugitive slaves during the 1800s. Use these resources to educate students about slavery in America and the abolitionist movement. This "trip" can be a great starting-off point for studying Black History or the Civil War.

Photographs & Postcards
Photographs & Postcards

Ask students to bring in photographs and postcards of far-off or culturally important places they've visited. Vacation photos of the Colosseum go a long way towards helping students understand the Roman Empire, postcards of the beach can be included in an ecology unit, and pictures of old log cabins can help your class understand the basics of Colonial life in America. Once students see photographs, they can imagine themselves there! If you have access to a scanner, upload the pictures to your computer to create a slide show or PowerPoint.

Reading Buddies
Reading Buddies

Older students might really enjoy the chance to practice their reading skills with younger classmates. Set up a "reading buddies" program, in which your students visit the classroom of lower grades (or vice verse) to read to the class. This activity improves reading skills, develops self-esteem, and creates a break in normal pattern of out-loud reading.

The Classroom
The Classroom

Spin the concept of the field trip on its head: make your classroom the destination. If another class, or parents, were to make a trip to your classroom, what would they find? What would they do? Have your students draw a map of the room that includes "landmarks" and other must-see areas. Write up a list of activities to enjoy. This is also a great idea for planning an Open House.

The Playground
The Playground

Take students outside to view the playground in a new way: as a setting for an archaeological dig (where they collect rocks, leaves, debris, and other "samples" to inspect) or a "farm" to harvest the vegetables and herbs you planted earlier in the season.

Ideal Destination
Ideal Destination

Ask your students where they would visit if they could take a field trip to anywhere in the world. Once they choose a location, they can plan the trip by conducting Internet and library research. They can look for a plane or train ticket, write an itinerary of the excursion, plan a budget for food and souvenirs, and write a list of what to pack. Each student can present to the class his or her chosen location and the activities they would enjoy.

Classroom Swap
Classroom Swap

Your students might benefit from a simple change of scenery. Coordinate with another teacher in your grade or team to hold a classroom swap. Send your students to the other room for the day to learn about a short unit, and the other students can visit your classroom. Beforehand, your students can decorate the class with themed-decorations.

Bring on the Experts
Bring on the Experts

Ask community members, such as architects, mechanics, doctors, and reporters, to visit your classroom for a period or the day. They can discuss their job and how the things they learned in school helped prepare them for the work they currently do. Before the visitor arrives, students can do research on the profession so they'll have questions ready. They can also assess whether they'd be interested in holding that job one day.

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