Budget cuts, curriculum demands, and the emphasis on standardized testing have all resulted in a decline in the number of field trips students are taking. Students do not have an opportunity to see first hand the diversity of ideas, peoples, places, and historical times which a trip to a museum or historic site might provide. If jumping on a big yellow bus and traveling on a field trip is not in your future, perhaps a virtual field trip can give your students some additional exposure.
Virtual field trips offer an opportunity to go places that would not physically be possible due to distance or expense. They are also great for students with special needs who might not be able to otherwise attend a trip. Many virtual field trips are free! Reading Specialty has selected four field trips that your students might enjoy. Search the web for other field trips to accompany your curriculum.
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
The virtual tour of the Smithsonian allows students to take a room-by-room tour of many areas of the Smithsonian, including some exhibits which are no longer available to the public. Using the interactive map, students can navigate from room to room. Using the directional arrows, students can navigate the three floors of exhibits. Previous exhibits which are now closed can also be accessed.
Click here to visit the Smithsonian!
Scholastic Global Trek
Students begin on a web page which looks like a travel planning website such as Expedia, Travelocity, etc. They select the location they would like to travel to and an itinerary links to the background information and resources on their chosen country. At the time this blog post was written, there were more than 30 destinations. As they travel they keep a journal of their findings and experiences. Prompts help students focus their writing. An assessment rubric is provided for the teacher to assess student accomplishment. I selected Egypt. There were two resources with background information about Egypt, one of which included links outside of Scholastic to five high quality resources. A guided tour provided a link to Myths from Around the World: Egypt. There were two links in the category “Meet the People.”
The San Diego Zoo
Learning about animals is fun on the San Diego Zoo site. Zookeepers narrate quality video lessons about more than 30 animals. A search function allows you to search by the type of animal and video length. Want to see animals in real time? Check out the live cams which include apes, condor, elephant, koala, panda, penguin, polar bears, and tigers. Informative stories provide reading resources and pictures about animal babies, animal care, animal species, fun facts, San Diego Zoo animals, saving species and zoo jobs.
There is a section for fun arts and crafts. Another section includes online games such as Living Legends, Tiger Trail, Safari Park Adventure, Elephant Odyssey, Polar Bear Plunge.
Click here to check out the virtual field trip to the San Diego Zoo!
Explore the Secret Annex Online and listen to stories from Anne’ Frank’s Diary. Students find information about the Second World War and biographical information about Anne Frank. An informative video gives information about why the Frank’s were required to go into hiding. The Who’s Who Section allows students to explore the people who were hiding, their helpers, and other people involved in the story. The outcome section includes video clips about the fate of the people from Anne’s story.
Visiting the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam is not realistic for most classes, but this site gives an opportunity to explore and have a feel for the house and the Secret Annex. There are spaces you can see on this website that are not open to the public, such as Otto Frank’s office and the attic. This is a virtual field trip which should accompany any study of Anne Frank.
Resources Available from Reading Specialty
Passages at a sixth/seventh, an eight, and a ninth/tenth grade reading level (as tested on 5 readability formulas) give information on Mount Rushmore, the US Capitol, New York Subway, Washington Monument, Brooklyn Bridge, and the St.Louis Arch. Five comprehension questions in a standardized format ask a main idea, vocabulary, organizational pattern, inference, and summarizing question for each level. Students can track their scores on the provided chart and teachers can quickly observe any pattern of errors and give instruction as needed.
Only want one of the resources? Each location is also available separately at the Reading Specialty TPT Store (click here).