Planning Field Trips

Field trips are wonderful opportunities to use the community as a learning device and expand teaching resources.

An excursion outside the classroom can add realism to an area of study. A history lesson on the Civil War can become real in a student's imagination during a visit to a battleground. Where soldiers wearing blue or gray once fought, now only rusted cannons stand as silent sentinels to past combat.

Don't let yourself get so excited about the trip, however, that you race through critical preparations and overlook key elements that provide an educational and safe experience for both the students and yourself.

First, check with your principal to review district and building policies. In some instances you may find that the parent/teacher organization does all the field trip planning. In addition to checking on the rules, ask what other teachers in your building have done in the past or are planning to do this year.

If the fifth-graders always go to the museum and you preempt the experience by taking your fourth-graders, it may be your first and last field trip.

You'll want to develop your own checklist to meet your specific requirements. This is a starter list.

Field trip check list

__ Educational Objectives identified
__ Tentative date set
__ Administrative approval obtained
__ Host contacted
__ Site preview visit by teacher
__ Confirmation letter sent to host
__ Confirmation letter received from host
__ Supervisory helpers identified
__ Restroom arrangements completed
__ Eating arrangements completed
__ Bus arrangements completed
__ Insurance clearance completed
__ Route cleared if walking (Police assistance as needed)
__ Consent slips returned (all signed)
__ Money collected
__ Advance admissions and bus paid
__ Supervisory helpers trained
__ Provision made for nonparticipating students
__ Cafeteria informed (fewer students eating)
__ Other teachers informed (schedule changes
__ Principal clear on arrangements
__ Bags for garbage and illness
__ First aid kit
__ Follow-up activities
__ Evaluation completed

Have a discussion with host and students concerning
_____ _____ Educational objectives
_____ _____ Safety rules
_____ _____ Student conduct
_____ _____ Use of cameras
_____ _____ Food, drink regulations
_____ _____ Guide arrangements and authority
_____ _____ Provision for handicapped students

Create a cover letter to parents that contains
_____ Purpose
_____ Itinerary
_____ Eating provisions
_____ Special clothes required

Create a parent/guardian consent form that contains
_____ Date of trip
_____ Departure time
_____ Return time
_____ Host information
_____ Cost
_____ Mode of travel
_____ Preferred physician
_____ Prescription drug information
_____ Other medical information
_____ Emergency phone numbers
_____ Emergency medical aid release
_____ Space for signature and date