Beyond the Classroom



Why Field Trips?

You probably already see field trips as opportunities to not only get out of the classroom for a bit, but to expand your students learning. For inquiry science, field trips are an excellent way to connect real-life to the classroom. This is a reminder that trips outside of the classroom can:

  • Extend and enhance learning

  • Expand awareness of science topics/uses

  • Complement inquiry science in the classroom

It's important to remember these field trip goals for young children:

  • EVERYONE enjoys the trip

  • Involve parents and community members

  • Students leave with ideas and questions

  • Teachers leave with greater understanding of connecting across science topics


Preparing For Your Field Trip — Going to a Museum

Bringing young children to a museum is a great way to extend learning outside of the classroom. Just as you plan ahead by creating lesson plans in your classroom, it's a great idea to plan ahead before you visit a museum with your group. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Do some research about the museum. Where is it located? What are some objects in the museum that your students may be interested in? How will these objects fit in to the units you are working on in the classroom? Is the museum offering any programs specifically for young children on the day you arrive?

  • Contact a Museum Educator. Museum Educators are a wonderful resource that can help guide you in having an educational, fun experience at the museum. Sometimes they will even offer programs for young children.

  • Choose an object or two.  If the museum does not offer programming for young children, choose an object or two that you can talk with your students about when you arrive. Come up with some questions you can ask them about the object. Think about activities you can do in the classroom before and after your museum visit that are related to the object.

  • Understand the layout of the museum. If it is a large museum, you will want to know how to get to the specific gallery or galleries you are interested in. There is no need to have your students get over-tired from searching through the museum. Find where restrooms are. Where can you have a snack or lunch?

  • Create a timeframe.  Visiting a museum can be an exhilirating experience for young children. However, young children will be more successful with structured timeframes. Long tours and standing are not ideal for young children. Think about interacting with various objects in the museum for 10-15 minutes at a time.

These tips are useful for science centers, cultural centers, zoos, and other places where you may take your students outside of the classroom. Check out the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum for progamming for young children. 

A Field Trip is Just Around the Corner

When you are not able to take the students outside of the school, take them on a local field trip! A walk around the neighborhood, school yard, or even the hallways can inspire learning outside of the classroom. Perhaps, if is raining, you can look at water droplets, or if it is sunny, you can observe shadows, or different types of building materials. Maybe there is even construction happening near your school. Get creative with your surroundings and integrate them into your inquiry science learning in the classroom.