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Tool: Planning a field trip

Field trips offer your students experiences they cannot get in the classroom. Trips to museums, nature centers, zoos, gardens, cultural events and nearby natural areas can provide your students with powerful learning opportunities. However, field trips do not have to be to distant locations. You can take walking trips from your school to see new places and experience new things.
For your students to get the most out of a field trip, you need to carefully consider how it fits into the curriculum and what you want your students to learn. Use the following guide to help you plan a field trip that is more than just a fun day away from school.

Field trip destination

Where do you plan to go?


Connections to the curriculum

What do you want your students to learn?


What types of experiences do you want your students to have (see new things, hands-on experiences, connecting to school experiences, etc.)?


How will these field trip experiences connect to what you have already done in the classroom?


What activities will you have your students engage in while on the field trip?


What record do you want your students to have from the field trip (journal writing, measurements or observations, photographs, souvenirs, etc.)?


How will you build on the field trip experiences when you get back to the classroom?


How will you prepare your students for the trip? Are there skills or activities they need to practice before going?


What other subject areas can be integrated into this trip?


Planning for the trip

Do you need reservations? Whom do you contact?


Have you received permission from the appropriate school and district authorities? Whom do you need to contact?


What type of transportation is necessary? How will you arrange this transportation?


Do you need additional chaperones? How many? Whom will you ask?


How will you obtain parent permission for students? What forms do you need to send home?


Have you scouted the location? Do you know how to get there? Are there any special considerations you need to make (availability of restrooms, shelter, picnic areas, trash cans, etc.)?


What special clothing and food do students need to bring? Have you made arrangements for lunch with the school cafeteria? Do students need to bring water?


Are there any student special needs that you need to accommodate or plan for?


Trip details

What special rules or directions do your students need to know? Can students collect things (rocks, plants, shells) or buy things (snacks, souvenirs)?


What medical forms and medications do you need to bring for your students?


Do you have a first aid kit and cell phone? Do you have phone numbers for parents and the school?


How will the students be organized (groups with chaperones, partners, etc.)?


What special equipment do you need to bring (clipboards, pencils, magnifying lenses, etc.)?


After you return

What worked well?


What didn’t work well? How will you change this next time?


What did your students get out of the trip that you least expected?


What did your students learn from the trip? Did this meet your expectations?


Will you do this trip again?


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