Planning an outing with your preschoolers can be an enriching experience and an opportunity for the young child to explore and learn about their world. When considering a field trip for children in child care settings, there are a few key things to keep in mind including safety, the developmental level and special needs of the child/children, and how you will prepare the child for the event.
The location of the outing should be carefully planned out ahead of time. Long distance trips in a vehicle that take children away from their daily routine and familiar surroundings for the entire day may not be appropriate for small children who can become easily overwhelmed by change. Trips to the pool might sound fun, however it may be difficult to monitor and ensure safety, depending on the size of your group. When choosing a location, try to make the event inclusive of all the children in your care, and plan for how you will include special needs children as well.
Intentional planning of field trips should also be linked to the curriculum that is centered around the children’s interests and the early learning guidelines that are established, such as those established by the Nebraska Department of Education.
Some of the child driven interests may include nature, insects, farm animals and food. Consider what is available in your local community such as a bakery, grocery store, post office, parks, a nearby farm or county fair.
To prepare the children for the outing or trip, parents and teachers can use a variety of strategies such as sharing and reading children’s books, looking at photographs, bringing in some items that the children may encounter on the trip into the classroom (touching a sample of wool from a sheep, or trying on a fireman’s hat). At meeting or calendar time, a special symbol or picture could be placed on the calendar to indicate the day the trip will take place.
After The Field Trip
In keeping with the concept of ‘plan-do-review’, don’t forget to take pictures of the children while at the event. You can use these later to help recall the experience. Children can draw a picture and dictate to the adult what they liked or learned from the experience. Later, the pages could be compiled into a book to keep in the book or library area of the classroom to revisit. Photos are wonderful tools to communicate to parents and they can continue the learning at home.
Check out this resource from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about how to stay healthy when visiting animal exhibits like a farm or a zoo. The CDC also has great information on how to protect children from the sun.
Check out these examples of children’s books related to the farm and farm animals as well as classroom activity ideas.
Author: Lynn DeVries, Extension Educator | The Learning Child
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