Teacher, would you like a way to mix things up for your primary classroom? One aspect of learning that students are missing out on this year is fieldtrips. They aren’t a necessary part of education, but they’re so important. Many of our learners would never have the opportunity to go to the places we can take them, and they make memories on those days they’ll always have. So let’s do the next best thing and have virtual field trips!
This list has lots of different types of virtual field trips and experiences to get you started. They vary in length from five to 50 minute videos to self guided tours. There are virtual field trips for science, history, landmarks, and everyday aspects of our world that kiddos find fascinating. So whether you have just a few minutes for a quick break or want to use a chunk of time to dig deep into a topic, there are options here for you.
Use your imagination!
I’m going to share a few ideas with you, but you can find many more online. All of these are free, but there are some paid programs that zoos and museums are doing as well. Another option is to reach out directly to people you know, people in your community, or just someone who would have something interesting to share, and ask about doing a Zoom meeting with your class.
These experiences won’t be the same as visiting in person, but some of these options wouldn’t be possible for every class because of distance or expense. Until we can go in person again, let’s give virtual field trips a chance.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you can make these experiences as simple or immersive as you like. You could consider bringing props to simulate portions of the trip, making a themed craft, or letting students act out part of the trip. The sky (or in this case, Mars!) is the limit!
Museum/Zoo Virtual Field Trips
Here are just a few of the museums and zoos that have free online experiences right now. Whether you want to delve into history or share your students’ wonder at the fascinating animal kingdom, you can do that with these virtual field trips.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History – This site offers multiple tours which let you click through different areas of the museum as though you (and your kiddos!) were walking through it. http://naturalhistory.si.edu/visit/virtual-tour
Virtual tour of Boston Children’s Museum – This museum offers a click through virtual tour. https://www.bostonchildrensmuseum.org/museum-virtual-tour
San Diego Zoo – This zoo shares several live animal cams, including of resident ape, giraffe, elephant, koala, panda, and more. There are also several Kids Corner instructional videos. https://kids.sandiegozoo.org/videos
Science Virtual Field Trips
There are so many fascinating science-related topics to explore with your students from butterflies to how slime behaves in outer space. Take a virtual trip to a dairy farm or a coral reef and give students a context for their science lessons.
Dutch Hollow Farm – This is a 50 minute video tour of a dairy farm. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-FQsNH0fXI
Butterflies – This nine minute video looks at butterflies. https://youtu.be/pV-XeI1H8rk
Chocolate – This nine minute video explores how chocolate is made. https://youtu.be/iC-EnTZrddk
Recycling Center – This eight minute video will take your class on a trip to a recycling center. https://youtu.be/-jAAux3g17k
Coral Reef – This nine minute video dives under the ocean to show your class a coral reef with sharks, turtles, and sea life. https://youtu.be/J2BKd5e15Jc
Slime in Space – In this 15 minute video, your class will travel to the International Space Station and watch astronauts play with Nickelodeon slime. http://www.weareteachers.com/slime-space-virtual-field-trip/
Virtual tour of Mars – This interactive tour of Mars uses real images from the Curiosity rover to let your students see the famous red planet. https://accessmars.withgoogle.com/
Space Activities and Videos for Kids from NASA – This site has a giant list of activities for different grade levels from tracking the phases of the moon to Space Launch System activities. https://www.nasa.gov/nasa-at-home-for-kids-and-families
Virtual Field Trips Through History
While some students are fascinated by history, for others it can be about as dry as burned toast. Share pictures and recreations of real events and time periods to give your students a better understanding of what life was really like for people who lived in the past.
Plimoth Plantation – This site includes video tours of a reproduction of the Mayflower, the Pilgrim’s village, the Wampanoag homesite, and Plimoth Plantation. https://www.scholastic.com/scholastic_thanksgiving/webcast.htm?affiliate_id=21181&clickId=3335713988
Pilgrim life – This 6 minute video from Scholastic gives a look at the chores and games children would have had in 1620. https://youtu.be/4Icao42RALg
Oregon Trail – This site lets you click through different points of interest on the Oregon Trail with pictures. http://www.historyglobe.com/ot/otmap1.htm
Mount Vernon – This is a virtual tour of George Washington’s home with information throughout. https://virtualtour.mountvernon.org/
Virtual Field Trips of Our World
Think back to a time in elementary school when you got to experience an aspect of our everyday life, like a trip to the fire station, the pumpkin patch, or to a local grocery distribution center. Our students are fascinated by so many things that seem ordinary to us. Let’s encourage their wide-eyed wonder with virtual field trips to places like the post office or a TV station.
Airport – This eight minute video takes your class to an airport. https://youtu.be/kuQfxZbLl5o
TV station – This eight minute video takes your class from acting to the control room at a TV station. https://youtu.be/AvMuXxCZeTs
Post Office – This seven minute video will take your class to the post office to learn how to mail a letter. https://youtu.be/tGOE-qxRVZw
Fire station – This eight minute video will teach your class the parts of a fire truck, take a tour of the fire station, and learn how to stop, drop, and roll. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0EoIkZzfqE
Trains – In this five minute video, your students will visit a railroad museum and learn about train safety. https://youtu.be/YmdzUiTOztM
Landmarks for Virtual Field Trips
Our world has awesome natural and man-made landmarks. Some of them your students would likely never be able to visit in person, so let’s take advantage of virtual field trips and do some globe trotting!
Mount Rushmore – Multiple views with 3-D camera controls of this famous monument. https://www.cyark.org/projects/mount-rushmore-national-memorial/virtual-tour
The White House – This 8 minute video is narrated by President Obama and includes several rooms in the White House with some facts and history. It also has the option to move the camera around for a 3-D experience. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=10155140995934238
Great Wall of China – This is a virtual tour with 3-D camera controls of a portion of the Great Wall of China. https://www.thechinaguide.com/destination/great-wall-of-china
Yellowstone National Park Webcams – This page has nine webcams of different areas of the park. There are also recordings of several different geysers erupting. https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm
Yellowstone Virtual Tours – This page has several videos of walks toward points of interest in the park. https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/photosmultimedia/virtualtours.htm
Statue of Liberty – This virtual tour is a 3-D self guided tour and includes historical information. https://www.nps.gov/stli/learn/photosmultimedia/virtualtour.htm
Don’t forget to write!
Teacher friend, I hope you’re inspired by all the learning opportunities available at your fingertips. True, your students won’t get to go in person to visit local destinations this year like they would have last year. However, you can still give them rich learning experiences and virtually take them places it wouldn’t be feasible to take them in person no matter the year. They may not be able to buy that souvenir t-shirt, but you can incorporate a craft or activity they can have as a reminder of their fun.
Content is important. It’s vital. But ten years from now, your students won’t remember the exact day that you taught them C-A-T spells cat. What they will remember is the day their teacher dressed up as a zookeeper and they got to watch a panda eat together.
You have the power to give your students wonderful memories. Please don’t underestimate how important that will be to them as people as they grow.
Hopefully these virtual field trip ideas will give your class a nice change of pace. They’re good for a treat, but if regular days in your classroom are feeling a little uninspired, check out some suggestions for boosting student engagement HERE.
Need some good experiences yourself this year? Head over to our Primary Teacher Friends Facebook group HERE and join in!
Until next time, keep making a difference, teacher friend!