When students have the opportunity to use the knowledge from their classroom in real life, or have the opportunity to reap extra learning in extra-curricular activities, they have a higher chance of success in school. The ability to make connection across subject lines (such as using literature references in a history paper) demonstrate true student understanding and interaction. Here are some ways that you can encourage learning and interaction in your students through field trips:
Forest preserves. Teaching a biology class? State parks and forest preserves are an excellent place for students to take what they have learned and apply in regular life. Examining plants, insects, and animals can be a great way to show students the practicality of their studies. Many forest preserves would be happy to work with you to set up field trips to local eco-systems, such as a prairie, forest, or wetland, and may even be able to give your students a, interesting demonstration or another perspective on what they are learning.
Historical sites. Visiting period farms or other living history museums can be a great way to bring history to life for your students. Most of these places will allow students to not only observe but experience life in another era through helping costumed historical interpreters with the daily chores, joining in the harvest, or observing other aspects of life before electricity and cars. What is even better is that many of these places do not offer just one program but have programs throughout the year for every season and even have new programs recently created. While some of these places are owned by the state and are always free of charge, others will make an exception for a school group.
Visiting these places can give students perspective, showing them how plant classification is not just in a textbook, but can be applied to their very own back yard. It can also show them how the specific family or person living in the prairie during the 1860’s may have viewed the civil war, or later, the introduction of electricity, making the connection even more relational.