Surprisingly Easy Secrets For Prepping the Perfect Field Trip
Ahhh…Field trips…Depending on who you talk to, you will get different reactions to those two words. One thing is true, they build long-lasting memories for students and teachers– whether good or bad!
It IS possible to enjoy field trips as much as your students do though!
Keep reading because I have all the greatest tips and tricks to share so you can prep for the perfect field trip!
Becoming a Field Trip Expert
I’m a field trip EXPERT and want you to be too!
Over the years, through much trial and error, I was able to create a great system for prepping for field trips. With this system, field trips become enjoyable and fun instead of being stressful and chaotic!
Let’s break it down together.
MONTHS BEFORE THE FIELD TRIP
Determine the location of the field trip months before the field trip will occur.
Plan to go somewhere that is developmentally appropriate for your students.
Not only does it need to be a place that your students are going to have an interest in learning about, but make sure it is a place that is accommodating and appropriate to kids their age.
Think about how much walking is involved, how much sitting, how much quiet time, how weather conditions will affect the trip, and what the restroom situation is going to be.
Consider these options:
- Art museums
- Children’s museums
- Children’s arts festivals
- Animal parks
- Candy factories
- Pizza restaurants
- Fish hatcheries
- Pet stores
- Grocery stores
- Television stations
- Bread factories
A WEEK OR TWO PRIOR TO THE FIELD TRIP
Send Permission Slips
Send permission slips home one or two weeks before the field trip.
One amount of time is the perfect sweet spot:
- It gives families enough time to be aware that there is a trip coming up and accommodate for a change in the usual schedule
- It’s not so early that families lose track of time and forget about the trip altogether.
Include Clear Expectations
Be transparent on the permission slips. Let families know what kind of clothes their child needs to wear, whether or not they need to bring money, and any rules about lunches.
Think: Can they purchase a school lunch? If packing a lunch do they need to use all disposable packaging? Etc
Also, include a spot to collect special instructions from families.
You want to know if students have any allergies you need to be aware of or if any medications need to be given during the trip (this will probably require the need for the school nurse to attend as well).
It is also important to find out which students have problems with motion sickness if the field trip includes a bus ride.
To prep for the perfect field trip, keep the information organized as it comes in.
Do yourself a favor and have a place to record all everything from the permission slips as they return to you. This will save you so much time in the long run!
These field trip information sheets are a great way to organize and keep things easy for you!
Prepare for Lunch
Put the lunch order into the cafeteria staff after receiving the permission slips back. Make sure to do so well in advance so that they have time to prepare any packed lunches.
Will you need chaperones? If so, how many? Will they need clearances?
Give chaperones enough time to get time off of work or plan for childcare for small children.
Provide clear expectations for chaperones. Let families know up front what the expectations will be if they choose to chaperone. What will their responsibilities be? Can they bring small children with them? Do they need to pack a lunch?
Making all these things clear from the beginning will save you from misunderstandings later!
Talk to Your Students
Begin building prior knowledge with students about the purpose of your trip.
Provide students with as much knowledge as you can about the ins and outs of the place you are going to visit.
They will get so much more out of the trip if they have some prior knowledge to pull from while they are there!
A DAY OR TWO PRIOR TO THE FIELD TRIP
Plan Your Groups
If you are bringing chaperones and breaking the class into groups, strategically plan out your student groups. You know your students best.
When you are grouping students, be thoughtful of the group dynamics you are creating.
Plan everything out on these Field Trip Master Lists, and then take these on the trip with you for easy reference.
Create Field Trip Survival Kits
Create field trip survival kits for all chaperones, just in case a few of those “minor emergencies” arise. Prepare one for yourself too while you’re at it!
Inexpensive drawstring bags are perfect for carrying field trip supplies because they can be worn on your back with your hands free for all the things you need to do.
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Inside each bag include:
- Large zipper bags (to separate food from health supplies)
- Wet wipes
- Small bag of crackers
- Bottle of water
- Corresponding field trip group information
- Hand sanitizer
- Field trip general information
- Small garbage bag
Obtain Remaining Permission Slips
Reach out to any families that still owe permission slips or have not provided needed information about health needs or lunch for their child.
Teach Field Trip Etiquette
Don’t just assume students know what the social expectations are on a field trip. Take the time to go through all the things you expect from them and all the things they can expect from the field trip. Being transparent with expectations will help ensure a perfect field trip day for your little ones!
A great, age-appropriate way to teach field trip etiquette is by using Field Trip Social Skill Activities.
This resource includes:
- two separate informative social skills stories, written in kid-friendly language, (one for field trips involving a bus ride, and one for walking field trips). The social skills stories are provided in PDF, Google Slides, and Video versions
- discussion cards
- classroom posters
- an easy reader mini-book
- an activity/assessment page
Using social skills stories with accompanying social skills activities in your elementary classroom is sure to be hit with your students!
Social skills stories help take the apprehension and fear out of so many of the “big events” (like the perfect field trip!) in the lives of first graders and other little ones, that honestly, would likely turn into huge behavior and management issues otherwise.
ONE DAY PRIOR TO THE FIELD TRIP
Prepare for Lunches
Locate coolers or large boxes to transport all the lunches and drinks in.
Review the expectations with students and what they need to bring or wear the next day.
Take time to reread and discuss the field trip social skills story with your students. Repetition and clear communication are key components in setting the students up for a successful trip.
DAY OF THE FIELD TRIP
Review Social Expectations
Review social expectations before you leave on your perfect field trip. These classroom posters are the perfect way to do a quick review of field trip expectations.
Check and double-check that there is a lunch present for every student (and yourself!)
Use different pictures provided to differentiate between the different groups of students. This will make counting and organizing students on the trip so much more convenient for you and the parent chaperones!
Prepare the Chaperones
Give chaperones their group information and field trip survival kits.
Provide a little time for students to get acquainted with them too!
Take Attendance….A LOT!
Losing a student will definitely NOT be in line with creating the perfect field trip! To avoid this fiasco, take attendance multiple times throughout the day:
- Before you get on the bus.
- When you get off the bus.
- Any time you go from one location to another.
- When you get back on the bus.
- When you get back off the bus at school.
Now that you’re able to prep the perfect field trip confidently, there’s just one more thing to say…
I wish I could tell you I have the secret to keeping field trips from being exhausting, but I never did find that magic. So my best advice for the evening after your perfect field trip is…don’t plan a big night out. You will most likely be a little worn out.
Let me know if you have any questions about anything you see here. Don’t forget to pin this post to refer to it later!
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KEEP HALLWAY BEHAVIOR ON TRACK WITH THIS
Free Secret Walker Kit
Monitoring hallway behavior has never been so easy and so motivating!
Thank you for being here! I love sharing ideas with other teachers! If you are looking to enhance your teaching and build a positive classroom community, you have come to the right place!