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.
Government Buildings Seeing how government works first hand can be extremely powerful and enlightening for children. Most city halls and court houses will allow tours, and some might even arrange for children to speak with lawmakers. Providing students with access to how and where laws are made gives them a sense of empowerment and may be the building of future political leaders.
Reading: Dr. Seuss has a collection of stories that talk about government – without talking about government: Yertle the Turtle and If I Ran the Zoo are both great for beginning the discussion about government. Most states these days of their own websites; let students explore the websites, reading for information about what goes on
Writing: Create a list of questions you would ask if you were going to interview a lawmaker – if you get a chance to speak with one, be sure to ask some of the questions! If you don’t get a chance to speak with one, do internet research to see if you can come up with the answers and create a “mock interview” with the information you find. Write an informational essay about the history of the building you go to. Make a list of information you would like to see added to the government building’s website.
Math: Look for 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional shapes in the architecture of the building: arcs are semi-circles, domes are half a sphere, columns are tall cylinders. How long has this building been around? Create a timeline to explore the elapsed time history of the building.
Science: While walking around the building, think about these questions: What type of architecture or engineering went into the design of the building? What materials were used? Where did the materials come from? What repairs need to be done, now or in the future?
Social Studies: What type of government work goes on in the building? Explore the connection between this government building, and other government buildings at different levels (ie. the county courthouse vs. the Supreme Courthouse). If the chance is given, talk to a lawmaker about their job and the laws they have worked with. Find out where the money comes from to fund this building and the people who work inside it. Discover the history behind the building.
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?