There’s a reason they’re called field trips. Consider greening your class trips by adventuring outside and exploring the world around you. Just remember to leave the area better than you found it and aim for waste-free field trips.
Think local. You don’t have to plan a trip that’s an hour away to enjoy the great outdoors. Visit local nature centers or call college botanists to take your class on a hike in their own schoolyard or neighborhood, helping them identify trees and birds as they enjoy a nice walk.
Just look around. Resources abound for interesting field trip ideas. Local REI stores have training classes in hiking and outdoor photography. REI also has Promoting Environmental Awareness in Kids (PEAK), a hands-on program that teaches children to have fun outside while practicing responsible outdoor recreation. (offered in conjunction with Leave No Trace, a center for outdoor ethics) for your organization.
Find your food origins. Let students discover where their food comes from by visiting a local (organic, if possible) farm. Learn about seasonal ingredients by picking apples or pumpkins in the fall, or strawberries in late spring.
Hit the market. Take a trip to your local farmer’s market. Create a class budget and shop for fresh ingredients, then make a picnic lunch with what you find.
Become tourists. Take students on a local walking tour. Explore parks, monuments, local shops, and anything else that makes your town unique. After being on the move all morning, arrange a family-style lunch with a local restaurant to explore local, seasonal flavors.
Keep clean. Visit local areas to clean up litter and collect bottles and cans. Bring any eligible material to a nearby recycling facility to learn about the importance of reusable products. Discuss ways to avoid the plastic pileup by using refillable bottles and products made from recycled plastic.
Say Om. Contact local athletic facilities or yoga studios to see if they would be willing to host a private dance or class for your students. If possible, walk to the class and discuss the benefits of exercise along the way.
Appreciate the past. If your town is located nearby a historic village or site, allow students to see what life was like in another era. Many of these villages feature historic reenactments, opportunities to perform traditional chores and tasks, as well as crafts and other educational projects.
Park it. No, not your car. Head to a local park or green area to enjoy a change of scenery from the classroom.
Hit the ground running
Make sure you have these important things with you when you head outside with your students:
Identification. Name badges and contact information should be on every child, no matter how old they are. If a child is lost or injured, they will have their name, emergency contact information and other medical information.
- Easy-to-make Tyvek wristbands are accessible in office supply stores, can be made in seconds with a permanent marker and are water- and tear-proof. For younger kids, put the ID around their ankles and they won’t even notice they’re there.
- Shoe labels are also a great idea. From a safety standpoint, if a child is abducted, perpetrators may change their clothes but they’re unlikely to change their shoes, according to safety expert Gavin DeBecker. Companies such as Label Your Stuff sell waterproof, durable labels made for shoes.
- You can get personalized tattoos for kids with the school’s phone number or a teacher’s cell phone number in case the child is separated from the group. Contact Safetytat for more information.
Sunscreen and UPF Clothing. UV rays never take a vacation, so make sure that parents supply sunscreen and the appropriate permission form so teachers can apply it before heading outside. Better yet, UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) clothing from companies like Tuga and Land’s End have clothing with UPF 50, which provide all-day protection against damaging rays.
Hydration and Healthy Snacks. Kids will definitely burn more calories and get thirsty when they’re enjoying the great outdoors.
- Pick up healthy snacks such as Fruitabu, Clif Kid ZBars or KIND bars.
- Have each student bring his or her own refillable water bottles.
- Take along organic, low-sugar juice pouches such as Honest Tea Kids. Collect the pouches and recycle them with Terracycle.
Comfy Shoes and Clothing. Natural, breathable fabrics are best for hikes and walks.
Encourage kids to wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes with socks made from natural fibers.
First-Aid Kit and Cell Phone. All teachers and chaperones should carry a cell phone programmed with emergency numbers and the numbers of all adults involved in the field trip.
Bring a basic first-aid kit in a backpack.