Teaching and learning

10 Virtual Field Trip Ideas For Your Child Care Setting

Take a field trip to outer space from the comfort of home.
virtual field trip ideas
June 10, 2020
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When it comes to taking a field trip, sometimes it can be a challenge to organise them for as often as we would like to. Luckily, many of our favourite museums, zoos and aquariums have gone digital, with virtual field trips you can explore from your own home or with the children together in the setting. Especially if it’s difficult to make time for outdoor activities, virtual field trips offer an exciting alternative to see something new.

You can get together via voice or video chat with families who are at home, and go on a virtual field trip. These activities require a tablet or computer with internet access, and with the tech skills required, are best suited for children around 5-6 years old.

1. San Diego Zoo

Source: The San Diego Zoo

The virtual field trip idea

The San Diego Zoo’s live camera feeds offer a glimpse into their many animal enclosures. It’s a great chance to see the animals in action, and to start conversations about animals, ecosystems and our planet.

What they offer

The zoo has live streams from the animal enclosures, but the real treat is their pre-recorded footage of the animals. They also offer craft tutorials and other downloadable activities that emphasise the learning points their educational clips have covered.

2. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Source: The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

The virtual field trip idea

Plan a lesson about sea animals and meet the megalodon, a prehistoric giant shark. Or, explore the rest of the museum to explore any number of subjects about our natural world.

What they offer

Start out discussing the variety of ocean life, and be sure to mention that megalodons aren’t around anymore — finish the discussion with a virtual tour of the Smithsonian National Museum’s ocean display. You can click through the rest of the museum, too. The museum makes all of their past displays, the current displays, and their permanent displays available by virtual tour. Early learners are bound to be amazed.

3. Q&A with a dinosaur

Source: The Chicago Field Museum

The virtual field trip idea

Get the children together and ask questions to a titanosaur, the largest dinosaur that ever lived. The Chicago Field Museum is quite the authority on all things dinosaurs — you can learn all about how they lived, how fossils are made, and how archaeologists find them.

What they offer

Children can ask questions and learn about the dinosaur in their live virtual tours. The Field Museum also offers a number of other exciting educational features, their video section is fantastic. The video explaining how fossils are excavated is also a great experience if you want to follow up your dino Q&A session with more dinosaur-related content.

4. National Aquarium

Source: National Aquarium

The virtual field trip idea

With so many displays to enjoy in one virtual tour, you can choose to plan a lesson that discusses sea life in general, or choose to focus on a specific niche. Click through each underwater habitat, being sure to look at the black ‘Information’ buttons to learn more about individual animals.

What they offer

They have a few truly magnificent “scenes” or displays to choose from: the Atlantic Coral Reef, the Pacific Coral Reef, the Shark Alley, Dolphins, Jellyfish, the Amazon River, and Tropical fish. Navigating the virtual tour is super simple too, you don’t have to sign up or register, simply open the web page, wait for it to load, and you’re ready for a virtual adventure.

5. Virtual farm tour with Farm Food 360

Source: Farm Food 360

The virtual field trip idea

Farms are some of the most educational settings a preschool can visit. There are the animals, the production side of the farm — like the dairy — and the agricultural aspects. Usually, taking in all of these different aspects requires separate visits to different farms.

What they offer

Farm Food 360 offers educational virtual tours of their milk and cheese production side, a view of the dairy cows, a tour of the grain farm, a visit to the sheep farm, and also virtual tours of their egg farms, egg processing facilities, the apple orchards, and the pig farm. This tour can take place over the course of a few different lessons, so you can explore the different topics under the farm theme, in-depth.

6. M&M candy factory tour

Source: How M&Ms Are Made: 360º Candy Factory Tour

The virtual field trip idea

Take the children along to experience the work and production that goes into something most all of us love — candy!

What they offer

This short tour shows children step-by-step how M&Ms are made. The narration is easy to understand and you can get a great visualisation of each step in the process. A fun idea: With parents’ permission, give the children some M&Ms to enjoy while you learn how they’re made. This virtual tour will have the teachers and the children craving a handful of colourful M&M candies.

7. Guided tour through a volcano in Hawaii

Source: Google Arts & Culture, National Park Service

The virtual field trip idea

Start with a dive into volcanic lava tubes in Hawaii, and go on to explore parks all over North America with these interactive video tours. The variety of tours gives you opportunities to touch on some really interesting topics with the children, like mountains, volcanoes, and the animals that live in the different regions.

What they offer

Discover the USA’s top national parks through an interactive virtual tour. See the Kenai Fjords in Alaska, the volcanoes in Hawaii, the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, and other natural wonders. One of the most exciting tours takes you right over an active volcano, the children will enjoy seeing the lava – it’s dramatic and exciting.

8. Walt Disney World

Source: Visit Orlando, Walt Disney World

The virtual field trip idea

This is the perfect tour if you’re looking for a virtual tour that’s all about thrills and fun, featuring the familiar faces of some of the children’s favourite cartoon characters.

What they offer

Visit Orlando’s tours offer a full set of thrills children can enjoy virtually. Picture a 200-foot roller coaster ride, a zipline over alligators or fireworks over the famous Cinderella Castle. You could turn this into a lesson about television and media, or just have fun exploring together.

9. Tour the solar system

Source: Nine Planets

The virtual field trip idea

Delve into the mysteries of the space with an immersive virtual tour of the solar system. Children will feel like they’re piloting their own spaceship with the digital interface, and they’ll learn a thing or two along the way.

What they offer

Nine Planets offer virtual tours of the solar system, outer space, and the night sky that are exceptionally accurate. The tour gives you interesting facts about stars, planets, black holes and other space phenomena you might encounter during your tour. The website also offers other tours that are specially designed for younger children.

10. Yellowstone National Park

Source: Yellowstone National Park

The virtual field trip idea

You can include a virtual tour to Yellowstone Park in the USA as part of a lesson on climate or geography. The landscape is different from anything the children may have seen before. Discuss what’s different as you explore some of the most unbelievable natural sites.

What they offer

Have a virtual walk through one of North America’s most dramatic landscapes. There are a number of hikes to choose from, including park highlights like Canary Spring, Upper Falls, and Dragon’s Mouth Spring. If this trip is a hit with your children, you can explore more great parks through this website, including the Grand Canyon, Mammoth Hot Springs or the Norris Geyser Basin.

The big ideas

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Official Danish Government Reopening Advice

Guidance from the Danish Health Ministry, translated in full to English.

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UK Nursery Covid-19 Response Group Recommendations

The full recommendations from a working group of over 70 nursery chains in the UK.

Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.

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