Remember the excitement your children get when they know they are going on a field trip? Bouncing around the house with eager anticipation, smiles lighting up the room, chattering nonstop about the sights they are going to see. It is difficult for them to contain themselves as they anticipate a day away from the routine of the classroom. For them, the destination doesn’t necessarily matter; it is about being some place cool with their friends and the freedom they feel unleashed from their desks.
Just because your students are learning from home does not mean you can’t replicate a field trip of your own. Fortunately, we are surrounded by a plethora of choices, both indoor and outdoor, exciting and fun, and even though we are trying to create a magical outing, there can be an underlying educational component to the day.
So when you are ready to break out of your routine, plan a fun and educational field trip to one of these beloved venues:
The Philadelphia Zoo, Philadelphia
The oldest zoo in the country needs no introduction…but it IS open and welcoming back guests at 50% of the typical occupancy. There is plenty of fresh air (although masks are required), so many majestic animals to view, and always something to learn. Print a PhillyZoo Adventure Guide in advance of your field trip so your school age children can have an interactive learning experience while still enjoying the day. Keep in mind, the animals have been missing the kids, too!
Not ready to visit the Zoo in person? The Zoo has you covered. They offer several virtual experiences: an online video adventure series to accompany the Adventure Guide, Philly Zoo at 2 Live Videos with a new video being released at 2 pm every Wednesday, or on-line activities with DIY activities and animal-themed science worksheets.
Timed ticket reservations must be made in advance: https://philadelphiazoo.org/reopen/
Adventure Aquarium, Camden Waterfront
Penguins and hippos and sharks…Oh my! The Adventure Aquarium is open to the public and encouraging visits as part of your students’ weekly lesson plan! Now is the perfect time to cross the river to visit the penguins and participate in educational fun for the entire family. The Aquarium has created weekly underwater inspired adventures by grade level – pure genius.
Preschool and K students are asked to find a school of fish while students in grades 4-5 are challenged to find specific schools of fish. Why? Because fish go to school too! Download the grade appropriate materials before you head to the aquarium and let your aquatic experience begin!
Tickets must be purchased online in advance: https://www.adventureaquarium.com/Aquarium-Admission/Aquarium-Pricing
The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia
The quintessential field trip destination is open Wednesday – Sunday, and jam-packed with learning opportunities for budding scientists in every field! Undertake some star-gazing in the planetarium, walk through the human heart and then watch a video dissection, or head to the Sports Zone for some interactive information on the how and the why of our bodies preparing and performing to be active. Some materials can be downloaded in advance to enhance your experience when you are walking the hallowed halls of the Institute.
Your young historians will not want to miss the special exhibit of The Presidents by Madam Tussauds, a limited appearance featuring 56 wax figures including all presidents and Philadelphia’s very own Ben Franklin. Don’t miss this fabulous tribute to our presidents appearing through January 2021.
Precautions have been put in place so visitors can comfortably enjoy the Institute as it was meant to be seen. Purchase tickets in advance: https://www.fi.edu/plan-your-visit
The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia
The pinnacle of the art world in the City of Brotherly Love is waiting for you and your children to discover, explore, and enjoy art like never before! Now open Wednesday – Sunday, the Museum provides special features to enhance your visit; simply go online to view and/or download both pre and post-visit materials to engage children in every grade. For example, there are gallery lessons broken down by age category so parents can provide their students with a focal point before they head out.
To maximize your visit, browse the floor plan ahead of time, have your students make predictions (What Will I See When I Visit the Museum…), keep a journal during the tour, and draw their favorite art work when they get home. It is a self-contained historical and stimulating outing with some eduction thrown in the mix. Oh, and on your way out, make sure they get to run up (or down!) the Rocky Steps!
Advanced reservations are strongly recommended: https://www.philamuseum.org/visit
Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia
One of the newer historical museums in the city, this site contains quality information covering the foundation of our country. The best part? Your young revolutionaries can participate in person or virtually! While it is always best to discover the Museum in person from Thursday – Sunday (plenty of hand-sanitizer stations are available), there is still the opportunity to learn from home, so if you are not comfortable taking part of the in-person family friendly learning, there are many digital resources available: coloring books,virtual field trips, at-home crafts and activities, to name a few.
To manage capacity, tickets are sold in advance on a timed basis: https://www.amrevmuseum.org/visit
While you are in the neighborhood, get some fresh air for the entire family with a short six minute walk over to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, both now reopened but with new viewing instructions in place. Complete your visit by observing this symbol of freedom representing our country . It will be an historical day for all! https://www.nps.gov/inde/learn/historyculture/stories-libertybell.htm
With minor planning and plenty of enthusiasm, select the field trip best suited for your students – science, history, art, animals – there is something for everyone and a ton of fun to be had. Plus you might learn a little something too…
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Philadelphia Zoo photo courtesy of The Philadelphia Zoo Public Relations.