School field trips are exciting and fun for students but often draining for teachers. You continuously count heads, call names, enforce the buddy system and hope everything goes smoothly. By the time you are back in the classroom, the students may be unfocused, and you may be frazzled yet thankful for a successful day. To capitalize on what was seen and heard during the field trip, you need activities that will cause students to examine the information presented during the course of the day.
After a field trip, hold a class discussion about students' favorite parts of the day, what they learned and what they saw. Allow students to ask questions. Do not shy away from difficult questions and issues that may have been presented. Tackle issues of slavery, politics, sexism and religious rights directly. Use this as a time for students to explore their own thoughts and measure them against the facts of history or current issues. Make sure to keep the discussion educational and objective, not personal.
Auditory and Visual Aids
Before the field trip, prepare possible visual aids such as movies, slide shows, radio broadcasts or soundtracks that may relate to the theme of the field trip. This will help students reengage in learning as well as examine and reflect on the events of the day. Open discussion after viewing or listening to the aids, and draw connections between the aids and the field trip. Allow students to talk and ask questions. Continue to build on this the next day.
Create a souvenir from the day. If your class went to the zoo, have the students draw their favorite animal with a few facts about the creature. If the class visited a museum, have students recreate one of the artworks they saw with facts underneath the picture. This activity works best for younger students. Hang the souvenirs in the classroom, and have each student present her creation to the class.
Have students write a letter or journal entry about their day. If students visited a museum, instruct them to write a letter to their favorite artist. If they visited a Holocaust museum, have students write a letter to the person whose name they received on a card upon arrival. Students can also write a letter to a classmate or to you about the best moments of the day or what was seen and heard. All of this helps students process and retain what they are studying.
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