Field trips are momentous times in a preschooler’s life. Preschool field trips allow children to enjoy a change of scenery and spend time outside the classroom doing more hands-on learning.
In addition to the memories children create on field trips, they’re a valuable opportunity for educators to reinforce lessons. With the right planning and preparation, field trips for children can be an engaging, educational day for all involved.
Why are preschool field trips important?
Field trips are more than extra-curricular activities. They can be an integral part of a child’s early education. Preschool field trips afford many substantial benefits for children:
Broadens their education
Children are exposed to only so much in a classroom setting. Field trips allow children to get a richer picture of educational subjects by observing them outside of books, lessons, or videos.
Exposure to real-life experiences
In preschool, children are developing their understanding of life and the world around them. Field trips expose them to everyday life in a setting where their teacher can help them connect what they’re learning to what happens in the real places in their community. Experiential learning (authentic, first-hand, sensory-based learning) through field trips is a way for children to reflect on and apply their new knowledge.
Research shows academic improvement
Studies support the idea that field trips have real effects on a child’s education. Field trips are linked to improvements in academic performance. According to a study on youth educational trips by the Wagner Group and the U.S. Travel Association, adults who took educational trips when they were younger…
- Had better grades (59% of study respondents)
- Graduated from high school at a higher rate (95% of study respondents)
- Reported that educational trips had a positive impact on their education (89% of study respondents)
Expands their world
Field trips allow all children to experience more of the world. Whether they live in a busy city or a rural town, field trips introduce children to experiences and environments they may not have access to otherwise. Preschool teachers have the opportunity to make a child’s world a little larger with each field trip and show them new places, people, and adventures.
How to plan and prepare for preschool field trips
A lot of preparation goes into a successful field trip. For teachers and administrators, there are people, places, and schedules to coordinate weeks or months in advance.
Consider the below areas as you plan your trip:
Sometimes preschool field trips are planned around a specific topic the class has been covering. Sometimes trips are simply a good learning opportunity that you’ll weave a lesson into. No matter which scenario you’re in as a teacher, it’s helpful to have your notes and activities prepared in advance.
How many adult chaperones will you need for the field trip? When you’re planning field trips for kids, it’s crucial to have a confirmed, appropriate number of chaperones based on the number of children attending.
You can request family volunteers or set up a rotating schedule so families can plan ahead. Consider offering incentives like free lunches or gift cards and remind them it’s a great opportunity to have a meaningful experience with their child and get to know the other children and families in your program.
Plan to bring extra snacks in case meal times run late. Prepare to answer questions from parents about whether to pack a lunch or work out an eating arrangement at the field trip location. If you'll be serving meals on the field trip, prepare the food before and determine how you will transport it. Consider packing a cooler for any perishable foods that need to be kept cold, and pack plenty of water if there is no water available at your destination.
Some preschool policies require that school vehicles are used for field trips. Before the trip, determine transportation needs, such as how many vans or buses will be needed and if parents are permitted to drive.
If there’s a cost associated with the trip, how will you secure funds from the school or handle payments from parents? Use your communication platforms to alert parents of any expenses they’ll need to cover as far in advance as possible.
Sometimes drop-off and pick-up schedules can be impacted by field trips. Create an agenda and itinerary that shows where the class will be and breaks down how long you’ll be at each location. This helps parents plan their day and gives school administration information they would need in an emergency.
If any children have medication, medical equipment, or anything else that needs to be on hand for them, it needs to be accounted for in field trip planning. Bring any health and safety documents such as an accurate roster to count the children and emergency contact information. Teachers should also pack first aid kits and antibacterial hand wipes if there is no access to clean running water on your trip.
Families' participation on field trips is a great way to include them in the curriculum and share a day in the life of the class. Check out our calendar template to keep families up-to-date with all major school events and spark new ideas for family engagement year-round.
Field trip safety tips
Taking young children on a field trip can be an overwhelming experience without the right preparation. Field trips are very exciting, so be aware that the children may have extra energy or be more distracted. To have a fun, safe, and smooth trip, focus on safety measures before and during the excursion.
Before the field trip
- Review the schedule with the children and tell them what to expect
- Give children safety guidelines and procedures to follow
- Assign pairs or small groups for headcount checks
- Involve children in checking the field trip supply checklist
- Instruct children to wear bright clothes or a certain color to make them easy to spot
- Prepare and bring a first aid kit
During the field trip
- Do headcount checks frequently and always before leaving or entering any location
- Follow pedestrian rules carefully when walking such as using sidewalks and crosswalks and only crossing the street when traffic signals say it is safe
- For traveling by bus or van, check every seat before exiting
- Ensure children understand and follow the security and safety measures of the field trip location
- Continue practicing basic hygiene, such as washing hands or using hand wipes before eating
- Keep a copy of emergency contact lists with you at all times
- Take bathroom breaks together as a group
Field trip ideas for preschoolers
Choosing where to take the children in your preschool class is one of the most exciting parts of field trip planning. Here are 20 engaging and educational field trip ideas for preschoolers:
Apple orchards and pumpkin patches can show children how these foods are grown and offer a truly hands-on education as they pick their own.
Nature walks are an educational adventure that allow children to discover various plants, leaves, critters, and trees. It’s also great physical activity!
A field trip to the local farmer’s market or grocery store can be an opportunity to teach children lessons about nutrition and where their food comes from.
Many children’s books are full of stories and illustrations of sea creatures, so the aquarium is sure to be a hit with preschoolers. They’ll get a chance to see these creatures up close and learn more about them.
A local bakery is another food-focused field trip that supports a small business and allows children to see how some of their favorite sweet treats are created.
Zoos are a common preschool class favorite! Children can visit and hear facts about a wide variety of animals, including birds, mammals, and reptiles.
Libraries are often a familiar place for young children, but a preschool field trip to the library gives children a chance to learn details about what a librarian does and the many types of books available to them.
Preschoolers tend to love fire trucks. Use a field trip to a fire station to teach them about the work that happens behind the scenes and age-appropriate fire safety tips.
Sometimes the best educational events don’t need to be booked—they’re already happening in your community! From holiday celebrations and parades to the annual fair, local events can provide children with a wealth of learning opportunities.
Farmers have so much they can teach young children, from lessons about the way food is grown to how the animals are raised.
Museums that cater specifically to young children are educational and interactive places that are ideal for preschool field trips. They also tend to change exhibits regularly, which means they’re a great choice for multiple trips.
Home improvement store
Show children how chairs, tables, and other items they use on a daily basis are built. Another way to do this is to find a local builder with a small shop who’s willing to give a workshop tour and demonstration.
If you have a child-friendly state park nearby, they make excellent field trip destinations. State parks are a beautiful place to teach about the great outdoors and ways to protect and respect our planet.
Teach children the importance of recycling and how everyday items like plastic water bottles and aluminum soda cans are recycled.
Local ponds are perfect for a low-cost, science and nature focused field trip. They’re often home to frogs, ducks, and aquatic plants, making great lesson topics for preschool children.
Around town scavenger hunt
Teach children about where they live with a scavenger hunt in your community. Downtown areas are usually ideal locations for this field trip activity.
Expose children to the performing arts with a preschool field trip to the local theater. This trip can teach them about storytelling on the stage, theater etiquette, and stage acting as a career.
Learning about different types of transportation expands children’s minds and view of the world. Add in a train ride to make it both engaging and educational!
Botanical gardens are a stunning environment to teach children about the beauty of nature and various types of plant life.
A field trip to an age-appropriate historic site can provide early lessons on important historical figures and events.
Post-field trip actions and education
Get the most out of your day away from the classroom by following up with children and their families after your field trip. Parents will appreciate knowing what their children learned and children will get a chance to relive the best moments of their trip.
To update families, consider including a brief summary of your field trip in your preschool newsletter. Ask children to share their favorite parts of the trip and include photos!
Plan a memorable outing
There are plenty of details to consider and plan when it comes to executing preschool field trips. Taking a trip is a great opportunity for educators to build upon everything their children are learning in the classroom and engage them in hands-on, memorable experiences.