Summer can mean that those of you with children in your classrooms take them on more field trips than during the school year. Visits to places ranging from museums and aquariums to firehouses or even to a local farm make for fascinating summer learning opportunities. Here are a few tips to make these experiences even more meaningful (and safe!).
Families love to help. Send a family member as a "scout" to visit the locale in advance. You have likely checked it out, but it always helps to get a family member's eye on the spot. A mom, dad, or grandparent will often see things we do not. Ask your advance team to take photos of spots and sights that are not to be missed. These photos can be displayed in your classroom to get children ready and thinking about their field trip. On the day of the trip, they will have a better idea of special things to look for.
Two helpful safety practices can help your field trip run smoothly. One is to make name tags with the school name, your name, and cell phone number on them. Fasten these name tags on the INSIDE of shirts. Many suggest that children avoid wearing name tags where their names are displayed. It is easy for someone to take advantage of this. I always had my students wear hidden name tags.
Along these lines, I never assign a small touring group to myself. I divide my class among the family helpers. This means I can easily step in and help if an adult leader is having difficulty with a group member. I explain this to all the volunteers, who are given my cell phone number. I found that when they know I am ready and able to easily step in, they tend to call before a problem gets out of hand.
Finally, gather brochures, photos, etc. during your field trip. Later, make an interesting display in your classroom and encourage children to "walk down memory lane" by talking about their experiences. What a great expressive language opportunity! You may even want to enlarge a few photos, laminate them, and cut them apart to create puzzles. Children love this!
This is a wonderful opportunity to engage newcomer families in your classroom. Let them know that their language skills are valued and needed. Having this type of support for children who are just learning English makes for a more meaningful and safer field trip. And everyone feels involved!
NAEYC - 2.D.03 & 04.
Head Start - VIII. A & B.