April 10, 2013

Field Trip Tips

A field trip day is full of fun adventures....and also full of managing behaviors.

You can end the day with a class full of excited kids....and an utterly exhausted teacher.

At the end of the trip, you're glad your kids got to go on this trip....and SO glad it's over!

While field trips can provide a great way to mix up your regular schedule and use a more hands-on approach to learning, they can also be a challenge. There's managing your class on the bus ride, keeping track of them while you are at the location, supervising an on-site lunch, and making sure you get back in time for dismissal. (And that's not even to mention to task of juggling the parent volunteers, keeping track of five children with random allergies, soothing the one who gets car sick, and locating the class 'wanderer' who likes to go off on their own!) It can be easy to burn yourself out.

To help you avoid this, here are a few tips for the bus ride that have helped my field trips start and end just a bit smoother. Maybe they will work for you too!

Tip 1: Let the kids choose their bus seat buddies beforehand. This avoids the "come sit with me" "no me" "no she's MY friend" dramas that always seems to crop up.

Tip 2: Give each seat a large, 2-gallon sized Ziploc bag. Have the kids write their name on the front with a permanent marker. This bag is their 'Bus Bag' and they can fill it with items to keep them occupied on the bus. Some of those items could be:
  • a book
  • one small dry erase board (the kind we used for math)
  • two dry erase markers
  • a few tissues (these were their erasers for their dry erase boards. They also came in handy if anyone got the sniffles, because each seat already had a few.)
  • a few sheets of paper and a pencil to play games with.
They can also use these bags to put any trash in that they accumulate during the trip. After the trip, they can simply carry their bags to the room and clean them out there.

Tip 3: Before the trip, teach the kids a few fun paper and pencil games to play (tic-tac-toe, squares, hangman, etc). They can play these with their white boards as well.

Tip 4: Assign two kids to be your bus cleaning monitors. They are in charge of taking an old grocery bag and going through the bus at the end of the trip and making sure all the trash and odds & ends have been picked up.

Tip 5: Use the bus as an incentive in the weeks before. For example, have students earn point by doing random acts of kindess, scoring well on a test, or having good behavior. Allow those with the most points to board the bus first (thus choosing that coveted seat!).

Tip 6: At the beginning of the year, I assigned each student a number (in alphabetical order according to their name). On the bus or during the day on a field trip, I would randomly call out 'Number 1!' That student would yell 'HERE!' and we'd rapidly continue down the list until we accounted for each student. It would only take 30 seconds since we had the drill down and it gave me peace of mind that I had everyone I needed to have.

So what works for you? What tips do you have for a smooth field trip?

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