Assessments may not feel far enough in the past (or perhaps haven’t even started!), but the end of the year is fast approaching and field trip planning is in full force!
It can feel like a scramble. For our final science unit in third grade, my colleagues and I wanted to teach our students about animal adaptions by raising trout in the classroom. It was an incredible opportunity to study the behavioral and physical adaptions of a specific species, but timing their release with a scheduled field trip was tricky. We didn’t know until a week ahead when the fish would be ready for release, which led to a mad rush to book buses.
In case you want to plan a field trip with more than a week of planning, here are some ideas with book pairings to get you ahead of schedule and your students excited!
If your unit is…
- Habitats, Ecosystems, & Biodiversity
NYC field trip: Central Park Zoo
Book Pairing: Puffling Patrol
How to find puffins near you (if outside of NYC): Association of Zoos & Aquariums makes it easy to find a zoo or aquarium close to your school. Most zoo and aquarium websites will list the animals they have.
Virtual field trip: Puffin burrow bird cam from Explore.org
The art and facts are stunning in this Lee & Low book where children can learn about puffin adaptations and their life cycle. After reading about the adorable creatures, fall in love with the real deal: tufted puffins at the Central Park Zoo.
- The Solar System & the Moon
Book Pairing: A Full Moon is Rising
How to embark on moon exploration near you (if outside of NYC): Go-astronmy.com has put together a national map to search for local planetariums.
Alongside the science, students love to study folktales and mythology from around the world featuring and explaining the solar system and moon. Introduce the significance of the moon in world cultures, with this Lee & Low title which gives readers a world tour of diverse celebrations and beliefs regarding Earth’s only natural satellite.
- Plant Adaptations
Virtual field trip: My First Garden from University of Illinois Extension program
- Life Cycles and Animal Adaptations
In NYC field trip: The Butterfly Conservatory at the Natural History Museum
What better way to celebrate these amazing creatures than to marvel at their incredible adaptations up close?
- Natural Resources, Human Impact, & Sustainability
In NYC field trip: Hudson River Park
How to find a body of water near you (if outside of NYC): The National Park Service has created the Find a Park search tool to discover a park by location, activity, or topic.
Virtual field trip: Interactive animation, “The NYC Water Story,” from American Museum of Natural History’s Water: H2O=Life exhibit
Book Pairing: The Can Man
How to find a recycling center or landfill near you (if outside of NYC): Many recycling centers and landfills offer student tours and you can find one near your school here. It is recommended to call to see if the nearest one to you does school programs.
Virtual field trip: My Garbology from Naturebridge.org
- Physics: Forces & Energy
In NY State field trip: Baseball Hall of Fame or professional baseball stadium
How to find a baseball stadium near you (if outside of NYC): Maps are available to find the nearest major league baseball stadium and most offer student discounts or field trip tours. Minor League Baseball also has a map for its stadiums. For the most accessible option, check here and you can find a local baseball field for students to play themselves or see community members try out the laws of physics.
Virtual field trip: Exploratorium’s Science of Baseball
Long considered America’s “national pastime,” baseball has had major historic milestones paralleling societal changes and attitudes. Readers of all ages delight in learning about overlooked, but nevertheless significant, pioneers in the sport and trivia like the origins of baseball coaching signals.
Pair a Lee & Low title to your beyond-the-classroom-walls adventure to deepen background knowledge and create an interdisciplinary, multi-media experience. Young learners will never forget the time you made the book come alive with a visit to any one of these sights.
Field Trip Funding:
- DonorsChoose.org –For inspiration and proposal models, be sure to study what other teachers in your area and around the country are requesting for their field trips
- Target Field Trip Grants—These are accepted in August and September only, but this grant option is one of the most popular for teachers around the country
- Every Kid in a Park—new initiative to help all fourth graders and their families explore our national parks for free
- Ticket to Ride—National Park Foundation’s answer to transportation costs to and from the national parks and monuments
- Student Achievement Grants—from the NEA Foundation
- Road Scholarship from Student & Youth Travel Association (SYTA) Foundation—financial aid for individual students unable to afford to travel
- PTA—your local PTA may have additional opportunities, ideas, and grants to fund your field trip
Local funding options:
- Massachusetts: Big Yellow School Bus from Massachusetts Cultural Council
- Milwaukee: Kohl’s Cares Field Trip Grant Program (February-March deadlines)
- Bay Area, CA: Teacher Innovation Grants and Field Trip Foundation
Resources for virtual field trips:
Free ipad Apps for Virtual Field Trips from Edutopia
What are your experiences and tips on bridging a field trip with classroom content? What books have you used in the classroom or at home to begin or culminate a learning adventure? Share with us!
Jill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her weekly column at The Open Book, she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.