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.
Nature Preserve: Seeing natural animals in their natural habitat – outside of cages – can be highly beneficial for students. Knowing how animals are helped to stay in their natural habitat can also be completely beneficial. Plus, there are so many benefits from simple nature hikes. Find a blog post I wrote about nature hikes here.
Reading: Any number of books about animals can be read before and after going to a nature preserve. Non fiction books about the types of animals you will see. Fiction stories about animals, like Winnie the Pooh, the Berenstain Bears or Make Way for Ducklings – Talk about the difference between fictional animals and real animals. Read news articles and opinion pieces about nature preserves vs. zoos.
Writing: Write informational essays about the natural habitat of one of the plants or animals that can be found in the nature preserve. Persuasive writing – which is better nature preserves or zoos? Write a fiction story from the point of view of one of the animals.
Math: Measure how wide the trees are; learn about tree rings and calculate the age of a tree stump. Create a graph of the animals living at the preserve, or of a statistic (like survival rate or release rate).
Science: Learn about animal habitats, animal life cycles and animal adaptations. Learn about plant habitats, plant life cycles and plant adaptations. Discover how to protect the earth. Explore the interconnectivity of plants, animals and humans. Look at leaves and try to identify the different types of trees. Look for “proof” of animal activity – footprints, feathers, droppings.
Social Studies: Learn about how native people used nature to live. Research people like Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir, who worked to set aside national parks to preserve nature, and complete a biography projects with the information. Explore the laws and current trends that affect ecology. Discuss what happens when gold or oil is found in a place that is protected by law.
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?