After a year of remote learning for the majority of elementary students, it’s time to consider in person field trips again. There are many options available to teachers for third grade field trips.
Environmental Print Walk
If you aren’t ready to schedule an inside field trip yet, an environment print walk is the perfect solution. Take your students on a walking field trip and have them read the environmental print in the neighborhood. When I did this field trip, I provided a worksheet, clipboard, and pencil to my students. The worksheet was a simple graphic organizer with 25 boxes. Each box had a letter in it. I omitted the letter ‘x’ from the worksheet. Students were instructed to look for environmental print that started with each letter. Once they found a word, they wrote it on their worksheet.
If you are walking through a neighborhood, instruct students to look at street signs and cars. If you are in a commercial area, there will be plenty of signage for students to read. While finding the letter, ‘q’ may be a challenge, my school was near a Dairy Queen. We stopped to write down the word, ‘queen’ and had a sweet treat.
Environment Print walks can also be done at a zoo or a museum. You can even try it on the school bus while you travel to your next field trip for third grade.
National Park Junior Ranger Program
Another fun outside field trip is visiting a National Park. Almost every National Park and National Monument has a Junior Ranger Program. This is a free activity based program for 5-12 year olds. However, it is open to any age. The day my niece and I completed the Junior Ranger Program at Devil’s Tower National Park, the park ranger mentioned a 96 year old had completed theirs the same day.
Each National Park and National Monument has their own Junior Ranger Program. Participants receive a booklet with activities to complete. Activities range from observations and drawings to finding out facts about the location. Once participants have completed the booklet it is checked by a park ranger. Upon completion, participants recite the Junior Park Ranger motto and receive a badge or patch.
If you aren’t located near a National Park or National monument, the National Park Service has a Junior Ranger Program online. Visit the National Park Website where you can find interactive and printable activities. You can also go on virtual tours at select parks.
The Junior Ranger Program is a great way to get third grade students excited about the National Parks System. When they go into fourth grade they qualify for a free pass through everykidoutdoors.gov. The pass allows free access to the National Park System from September 1 of their fourth grade year until August 31.
Many state park systems such as Tennessee and Illinois, have their own Junior Ranger Programs. Head to your state’s park website to explore your options.
Another great option for a field trip is a living museum. Living museums provide an immersive, interactive experience for students which virtually guarantees that children will be fully engaged. Living museums range in size. Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia and Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan are large living museums that will take a full day to explore. Many smaller communities have living museums that will take a few hours to visit. One example is the Naper Settlement in Naperville, Illinois. Students are able to travel back in time to the 1800s. They visit a blacksmith, a print shop, a school, and home. Students interact with actors who portray the blacksmith, printer, teacher, and homemaker. Finally, many communities have field trips where students can visit a one room schoolhouse. The Kenosha History Center has a day program where students spend the day learning in a 1906 setting.
Animal Field Trips
There are many options for animal field trips that extend beyond the typical zoo visit. Many stables and farms offer field trips to schools. For example, Sunset Stables in Lee’s Summit, MO offers a field trip package that includes learning about horses, participating in grooming a horse, and a short ride on a horse. Reach out to farms that are located near your school. Many farms will have field trip programs. For example, The Center in Palos Park, IL offers a tour of a working farm along with a hayride.
Visits to aquariums are also popular with third graders. Who doesn’t love watching dolphins and penguins play in the water? Teachers can elect a self guided tour or arrange for their students to take a class. The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois offers four class options for third graders, including one on squid dissection. The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, Florida offers both 60 minute and 30 minute classes to students. These classes focus on sea turtles, coral, and sharks. The aquarium also offers a variety of lab experiences. Check out your nearest aquarium to see what classes they offer to school groups.
Community Impact Field Trips
Teaching students the importance of volunteering to make the world a better place can easily be done through a field trip. Students can visit a local nursing home or assisted living facility. Reach out to the activity director and arrange a trip for your students. Students can play games with the residents or complete an art project together.
Another option is to take your students to a food bank to volunteer. Several food banks will work with elementary aged students. For example, Feed My Starving Children allows students to come to their factory site to fill food packets. Each student is given a job to complete at a table. The bags are completed in an assembly style method. At the end of the trip students are able to sample the food that is being sent to other countries. Note: Feed My Starving Children has an unusually low student to chaperone ratio based on age.
Reach Out To Your Parents
Don’t forget to talk to the parents of your students. Many have interesting jobs and connections that could result in an interesting field trip for you and your students. You might end up going on a field trip to a local radio station or restaurant. The possibilities are endless!
Do you need some field trip ideas? How about visiting an animal shelter? Many children want to have a pet, but don’t realize how much work goes into caring for one. This trip will show them what it takes to care for a pet and how selfless volunteers use their time for a great cause.
Photo scavenger hunts are a great way to allow learners to use technology in nature. This idea is widely supported in nature-based learning. It helps learners develop a hybrid mind by exposing students to the natural world and integrating technology into the learning experience.
Free field trips for classrooms do exist. With budget cuts that many schools have undergone and families that are struggling to make ends meet, it is still important to provide students an opportunity to learn through different experiences.