During the summer, most teachers I know spend at least some time planning for the next school year. My favorite “planning” to do during the summer is field trip planning, because it means I get to tour cool places I’d like to take my students to – often with my own kids in tow. Here are some of my favorite field trip locations, that can be found in most every community, as well as a list of content connections you can make for your students. Often as teachers we only include field trips in our science and social studies, but there are lots of reading, writing and math connections that can be made in these locations as well. I am going to share one type of field trip a week and ideas for making curriculum connections with each field trip.
Reading: There are great books out there about plants, including Diary of a Sunflower, the Great Kapok Tree and From Seed to Plant. Reading the signs and placards at the botanical gardens is a highly overlooked skill – many kids walk right by without gaining that bit of extra information that they can get by looking at the posted signs.
Writing: Write the life story of one of the plants – from the point of view of the plant. Look at the scientific names for the plants – see what root words you can find in these names. Write a letter to the editor about why we should (or shouldn’t) give more money to the Botanical Gardens.
Math: Create a tally chart to track which types of plants you see – trees, flowers, shrubs, cactus etc. Measure the height of different plants.
Science: Explore the life cycle of a plant. Note down ways plants are specially adapted to their natural habitat. Keep track of which plants flower and which plants don’t. Learn about how plants help out humans. Choose one plant you see and research further information about it. Group related plants together and explain how they are similar and how they are different.
Social Studies: Explore how people have used plants for their benefit – for food, for medicine, for decoration etc. Explore laws protecting certain types of plants. Bring world maps and have students label where each type of plant comes from.
To make field trips more educational, I often use graphic organizers and other activities to keep my students focused. Read more about the specifics in this blog post: Field Trips Aren’t Just For Fun. Be sure to stop by next week for another Field Trip Curriculum Connection.
What is your best field trip idea?