35 Field Trip Ideas
Coming up with fun, educational, affordable field trip ideas can be a challenge. But field trips offer great learning experiences that promote a sense of school pride and community within the student body. Even though schools operate on tight budgets, you can get creative and keep prioritizing field trips. Here are 35 field trip ideas broken up by grade levels to maximize your field trip opportunities!
Elementary: Grades K-5
- Upper-Level Performance - Your upper grades are probably prepping for a performance of some kind, either theatre, music, sports or otherwise. Let them practice the show for the younger grades — which is a win for both groups.
- Local Expert - See if you can find a local expert who relates to a unit you are studying and invite him or her to do a presentation. Can you find an artist? Zoologist? They'll probably love the opportunity to give back to the community while sharing something they love, and you'll get the presentation free or at a steep discount. Hold the event in an auditorium so it feels extra special.
- Police & Fire - Younger kids are fascinated by police, fire, EMT and other types of rescue jobs. Invite them to the school parking lot to do a presentation or arrange for students to go to the firehouse and enjoy a guided tour. This creates a positive, larger sense of community for everyone involved.
- Cooking Show - Do you know a chef or have connections at a restaurant? See if they'll put on a cooking show or do a cooking class for young kids. Most chefs will jump at the opportunity to build relationships with so many little members of the community who will grow up to be regular patrons of local cuisine.
- Art School - Contact a local art school or an art museum for young kids and see if they will either offer a discount day for students to visit or bring a few of their special activities to your school. Since this is their target demographic, they'll love the opportunity to build relationships and advertise with the students.
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Middle School: Grades 6-8
- Colleges - Local colleges and junior colleges are a great opportunity to visit beautiful campuses and get guided tours of educational institutions without traveling too far. This will also inspire students to focus on their future goals and dreams.
- High School Performances - Work with local high schools that have performance art departments to do special showings of musicals, recitals and other performances prior to opening. They'll need the practice in front of an audience and your students will appreciate the trip off campus.
- Makeshift Science Camps - Many schools have had to cut budgets for things like extracurricular science camps. So bring one to your own school with a makeshift science camp in your own auditorium or field. Put out a series of different stations where students can explore important scientific discoveries and experiments for a day or over a couple of days.
- Wilderness Survival - Work with a local guide or company to plan a wilderness survival camp where students learn how to survive in the great outdoors. Subjects could include building shelter, purifying water, finding food and what to do in the case of a wildlife sighting.
- Art Expedition - Have your students design the show by having each subject create an art project that can be displayed. Dedicate a day where students rotate around the classrooms to see the inventions, presentations and creations. Bonus points if you create a way to incorporate performances by the creators to explain their inspiration and ways for students to interact with and respond to the projects.
High School: Grades 9-12
- Food Distribution Center - Kids of all ages can chip in at a local food distribution center, such as a soup kitchen. Early high school students may enjoy packing lunches while older students will like serving and interacting with the visitors.
- Giving Back During the Holidays - Look for a local charity around the holidays and get involved. From helping to sort donated gifts for needy children to putting the tags on Christmas trees for Toys for Tots, there's a good amount of opportunity for people to get involved and make the holidays magical for others.
- Create a Charity - Students are very adept at seeing needs that adults can often miss. In fact, many students are also in need, so asking them what they think the local community needs is a learning experience for all. Have students participate in designing and launching a local charity to help make a difference.
- College Tour - Colleges offer so many different ways to see the campus. Find age-appropriate activities for students and plan to go. Check in with the college in advance to request a tour guide and maybe even some free swag.
- Trades - Students need to see many different career path options, so get in touch with a local tradesperson. Can students get a presentation from a local construction crew on how to operate those big diggers? What about talking to entrepreneurs about their journey? Or learning what the day-to-day is like at a manufacturing facility?
- CEO Talk Show - Call local CEOs or even parents of students and invite them to a speaking panel. Have students prepare questions for the panel and put up a microphone where students can talk and ask questions.
- Financial Class - Bring in or take students to a financial expert who can teach them important skills for life. Many high school students graduate without learning the basics of credit card debt. Have a financial speaker talk about wise money practices, budgeting, taxes, how to prepare for the future, credit scores and more.
- Laundromat - Many students don't learn the basic daily chores that life as an adult requires. Take them to a laundromat and teach them how to do their own laundry! It'll motivate them to want their own washer and dryer, for sure.
- Body Shop - Talk to a local body shop and see if they'll do a presentation on basic car maintenance, as well as what to do to keep a car in tip-top shape.
- Create a Camp - Why not have high school students design, plan and implement a camp experience for younger grades? Older grades have a lot they can share and teach younger ones and you know the saying, "The one doing the teaching is the one learning."
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For Students of All Ages Charitable Trips
- Adopt a Spot - Can students adopt a local section of a beach, road or park, and take pride in keeping it clean? It'll make them appreciate local areas and think twice before dropping trash on the ground.
- Pet Shelter - Pets need love, too! Donate time at a local shelter to pet cats, walk dogs, feed them, bathe them and offer them love.
- Elderly Home - Visit our elderly. Prepare a program, write your own little books and make paper flowers that you can bring to the wise older folks in elderly homes.
- Help the Homeless - Wherever you live, there is a population of people in need. Have students work together on a project to help the homeless. From packaging winter supplies and delivering them to creating pop-up food stations where homeless individuals are invited to stop by for nourishment, this will teach students how to help others and increase their appreciation for what they have.
- Fruit Picking - There is likely a local fruit farm near your school. Apple farms, strawberry farms, you name it. Take students and let them pick fruit, learn about agriculture and enjoy nature.
- Scavenger Hunt - Create a scavenger hunt that is age and ability appropriate. Younger grades could do a plant, flower, and bug scavenger hunt on school property while older grades could do a more detailed scavenger hunt in a historic part of town. Matching t-shirts will help identify students.
- Library - Visit the largest library within a short distance of your school. Many universities have beautiful libraries that would offer hours of research and entertainment. Be sure to give students something to look for, so they don't get lost in the stacks.
- Community Garden - Have students work together in a local community garden. They can learn to plant, prune, harvest and enjoy what they've grown — and learn the art of sustainability at the same time.
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- Florist Shop - Flowers are all around us. Teach students to appreciate these colorful blooms with a trip to a local flower shop. Perhaps the owner could teach a small class on how to trim and arrange flowers or on the different types of flowers that grow most in your area.
- Dog Trainer - Ask a local dog trainer to meet students at a park and do a brief presentation. They could even bring a few dogs for students to try out the tricks with. Many students have dogs at home and may need some help with how to treat them and train them or just need to develop more of a comfort around dogs. Either way, it's great marketing for the trainer and a fun activity for students. They could use the experience to inspire a writing project such as a "how to" or narrative.
- Old Schoolhouses - Most towns have a historically preserved area where there are buildings like old schoolhouses, statues or even old houses. It can be so fascinating to see how people lived in the past. Similarly, in certain regions there are a number of historic church buildings or missions that are available for visits. Oftentimes, these visits can be used to inspire projects, such as how to engineer a replica of the building or to write a historical narrative of events that happened there.
- Planetarium - Take your students to an educational presentation where they can learn about constellations, planets and the milky way.
- National Treasure - Do you live close to a monument, local museum, beautiful park or garden or any other unique treasure? Find a way to get students in for a steal!
- Private Farm - Contact local farms and ranches to see if any of them can offer a truly unique learning experience. From learning how to care for horses to seeing how an organic farm operates, it will give many kids a new appreciation for the food they see stocked in stores. If you'll be attending during a specific season like fall or winter, be sure to ask for a demonstration on the life cycle of a pumpkin or a Christmas tree to give students a better understanding of the work that goes in to growing animals and plants on the farm.
- Government - Is your school near a local branch of state government? They usually offer free tours. You can also make an appointment to meet a local councilperson or even the mayor. They love to meet their young constituents and talk about the value and role of government. Alternatively, find a post office and postal worker and get a tour of the facility and daily responsibilities.
There you go! 35 field trip ideas to get the wheels on the bus turning. There are so many creative ways to engage students in hands-on learning experiences outside of the classroom. Whatever you end up doing, know that your efforts are worthwhile, and the memories will last your students a lifetime.
Erica Jabali is a freelance writer and blogs over at ispyfabulous.com.