Taking students on field trips is fun and challenging at the same time. Counting heads, booking busses, packing food and water, medical bags, and tracking down that last kid that had to get the snack bar right before leaving is always tiring. However, 2020 has left every kid and every teacher wishing for some normalcy the opportunity to see something new and exciting. The question arises as to how teachers and homeschoolers can make classes fun and exciting. How can we, as teachers, bring that loving field-trip-feeling into the classroom? The answer is virtual field trips for students!
While virtual field trips don’t hold the same excitement for students as getting to run away from school for the day to learn something new, these virtual field trips are just the trick to make learning exciting and get through a new virtual time in education.
What Are Virtual Field Trips for Students?
Virtual field trips are ones that can be viewed from a computer screen or the classroom projector. These “trips” can allow students and teachers to see some of the most famous places in the world from the comfort of your seat. What’s great about a virtual field trip is the simple fact that they can be planned around your lesson, you don’t have to arrange busses, and students can experience something cool from anywhere.
How Do You Plan a Virtual Field Trip for Students?
One of the perks of planning virtual field trips is that it is significantly easier than planning a real one. However, to make the experience as impactful as a real field trip, there will be some things that you need to do before the “trip.”
- Make sure that you have the proper techniques needed to complete your virtual field trip. If students have personal computers or classroom tablets, make sure they have them fully charged before the virtual field trips. Further, if your virtual field trip has a guided speaker, ensure that all students have a set of headphones. If students don’t require an individual computer and you’re showing us on the class projector screen or an interactive whiteboard, make sure that your projector is working properly.
- Ensure that students know ahead of time when their virtual field trip is. There are a lot of fun things that can be done in correlation with the field trip. Maybe have a dress-up day to mimic going on the real trip. Possibly have space-like snacks to match their trip to the space station, or croissants match their trip to Paris!
- Gather any learning activities that you want your kids to complete while attending their virtual field trip. Making sure students are actively paying attention to their trip will help them get more out of it.
- If you seek parent involvement, let parents know ahead of time when the virtual field trip will take place. Since you do not need to provide permission slips (woot woot), asking parents to be involved in this cool event makes the day a lot more fun.
Let’s Go on a Virtual Field Trip!
Okay! The day is here, and it’s time to take a look at some of the coolest places in the world. While there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of different virtual field trips available for students, these are some that we felt would fit a wide range of lessons taught.
1 . Buckingham Palace
Who wouldn’t want to take a trip around the world to visit the Queen of England in her very own Buckingham Palace? Students can have a first-hand view of the throne room in which many of England’s kings and queens have been crowned, from the exquisite draping red tapestries to the sparkling chandeliers. Visitors can navigate around the throne room, but they can also zoom in on different features for an up-close look and click on informational icons to tell further about the different historical aspects of the room.
Students can also explore the Grand Staircase in a 360-degree view with zoom in and out features. Discover the priceless works of art hanging on the walls of the White Drawing Room. This virtual field trip will certainly allow your students to feel as though they are getting a true behind the scenes look at the famous palace.
2 . The Secret Annex-Anne Frank House
Learning about the WWII era? My student always loved taking a virtual tour of the Anne Frank House because this provided a first-hand look at how this lovable little girl lived with her family in the worst of times in history. Even better, this experience is free! This virtual tour, in my humble opinion, is one of the best on this list.
Guiding students through each room as you would if you were there, kids can see the tiny living quarters, secret doors, and bathroom. You will be able to see the inside of the building and a street view of the site of the Frank family’s hiding spot.
This interactive virtual tour has videos that accompany each of the rooms. Kids do not only see the space and ability to explore but also learn about each of the spot items, getting a video to give further insight into those who lived in the secret annex. Further, certain places like the bathroom include a schedule for those who could use the restroom and have time for cleaning and safety.
3 . Edgar Allan Poe House
Who wouldn’t want to see where the famous Edgar Allan Poe created his most famously spooky masterpieces? For a nominal fee (less than the cost of a field trip), teachers can access the Poe House’s virtual tour. While this virtual field trip is not free, the Poe Foundation does offer this trip on a pay what you can basis.
Each of the virtual field trips includes an introductory video, a live and interactive tour guide via a go pro, discussion throughout the tour where students are encouraged to participate, and a live reading of some of Poe’s works.
4 . How About a Trip to Mars?
Yes, that’s right, take your kids on a virtual field trip that is, literally, out of this world! You and your students can access the planet of Mars for a truly out of this world trip without leaving the classroom. Upon visiting the Access Mars web page, teachers will click on the “enter 360” button to be launched into the NASA Mar launch’s real sounds.
Kids can rove around the surface of Mars and explore the various drill sites, canyons, and cavers. Students will be able to learn about all of the different names of places explored and studied and when these discoveries were made. Further, kids will enjoy learning about all of the different scientists that made all of this possible.
5 . The Baseball Hall of Fame
Learning about some famous baseball players? How about a virtual trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame? This destination is bound to be one that your students will not ever forget. The process for this virtual tour does require a bit of planning. Virtual tours of the hall of fame need to be scheduled in advance as the building is not hosting in-person tours at this time due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Baseball Hall of Fame virtual tours include various resources to engage students along their journey. This includes lesson plans that align with the Common Core State Standards for Math and English curriculum. These lesson plans include clear directions and handouts that can be reproduced for your class and ideas for activated to do with your students.
6 . Ellis Island
Ellis Island is one of the most significant places in the United States of American and bears so much importance today. Allow students to see immigrants from around the world and their experiences in coming to America. This virtual field trip is more of a video full of information as students listen to a tour guide give facts and information about Ellis Island.
The tour guide will walk all those watching through the various exhibits on Ellis Island and provide valuable information about the early immigration processes for coming to America. Students can see and hear about what it was like to make the great journey to America and start a new life.
7 . San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is known to be one of the best zoos in the United States. This zoo offers several different options for students when it comes to the cost of virtual field trips. Teachers can choose from a free, pre-recorded option or two different paid options.
There is the “Virtual Inside Story” trip option, which allows for a one-hour live inside tour, and there is a “Virtual Zoo to You” tour, which is a less expensive thirty-minute option. Both tours allow for a live and interactive Q&A with the tour guide.
8 . M&M Factory
What person doesn’t want to visit the M&M factory? This pre-recorded virtual tour is so cool because students can take a 360-degree view of anything they want at any point during the video. Kids don’t have to wait for certain stopping points to press the little arrow keys to see different parts of the M&M factory with the tour guide is speaking.
This virtual tour is such a fun opportunity for a science class to talk about how things are made and have a few M&Ms in the process. Or use the different colors for a fun math or ice breaker game. See, candy is a beneficial tool in the educational process!
9 . The Vatican Museum
Teaching a history lesson that involves learning about old England? How about a tour of the Vatican? There are fourteen different rooms for kids to explore on this virtual field trip to the Vatican! Explore the halls of the Nicoline Chapel or the Chiaramonti Museum that houses many priceless artifacts and pieces of art.
Kids will enjoy the virtual experience that allows them to zoom in to the artful architecture on the ceilings that would be difficult to see the intricacies of in person. The best part? This virtual tour is entirely free, and students get to visit, learn, and explore the world from their seats.
10 . The Louvre Art Museum
When you can’t see the art in real life, take a virtual trip to France to see the famous Louvre Art Museum. This museum is a national treasure of France and is home to the most famous paintings in history. Priceless art pieces such as the Mona Lisa or The Raft of Medusa are in this world s largest art museum.
The Louver website features YouTube videos (as pictured above), specialized virtual experiences, and closer looks at various pieces of art. Aside from this specific virtual tour, there is a ton of free educational information that can be utilized for this field trip.
11 . The White House
In an election year, what better time is there to discover The White House? View historical rooms such as the East Room, the Oval Office, the Red Room, and the Diplomatic Reception room. Kids will certainly enjoy seeing the President of the United States’ home while learning our government about the different parts and government.
12 . Auschwitz 1 Concentration Camp
WWII has so many different fascinating facts and events. Of these, the most devastating and tragic is the Jewish Genocide, widely known as the Holocaust. Auschwitz Concentration Camp was the most horrendous murders during the WWII Holocaust, with over one million deaths. Students can virtually visit places like the prisoner barracks, see a street view of all of the buildings, and visit the camp entrance.
Here students will get a sobering look at the largest death camp in history. More so, students will be introduced to the way the camp looks like now and pictures of the way back when the Nazi party was actively using the camp.
13 . Crystal Bridges Art Museum
One of the best art museums in the United States, Crystal Bridges is nestled in beautiful Northwest Arkansas. More specifically, the home of Walmart. Crystal Bridges offers a virtual tour of all of the different exhibitions with YouTube videos that allow the user to take a 360-degree view throughout the experience.
Students can currently view the Kindred Spirits gallery by Asher B. Durand, Glass, and Bottle by Suzy Frelinghuysen, the Frank-Lloyd Wright House, and much more! There will be no getting bored with the many virtual tours this museum has to offer!
14 . Colonial Williamsburg
Step back into colonial times with a virtual tour of Williamsburg. This free interactive tour takes kids back in time to see what the early days of America looked like. As one of the best virtual tours on this list, students will see places such as the Governor’s Palace, The Capitol, and the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. Kids will get to see priceless works of art that represent our nation’s history like never. These showers show the various decorations, historical artifacts, and built-in videos to explain further what is being seen. Students even get a bird’s eye view of what they see as it glides into leach place’s in the first place. Even better, there are a significant amount of resources available for educators to use in preparation for this virtual field trip.
15 . The Great Wall of China
Want to escape somewhere amazing? Step onto the Great Wall of China through their virtual tour! Experience this amazing 2000-year-old wonder of the world by learning about the amazing history of this great structure. While this virtual trip is not a free one, it is extremely manageable. Students can view this from a virtual reality perspective as if they are walking the streets themselves or take a typical virtual tour.
There are also options to take tours virtually of the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China (Jinshanling Section). These various tours could easily take up an entire class period or two if you include various activities and discussions for students about this amazing tour.
16 . The Titanic
Once the largest ocean liner to ever venture out into the great seas was the Titanic. This virtual tour, while a bit macabre and eerie, is also exciting. Few historical lessons are more interesting than that of this massive ship and the decision to speed up that cost over one thousand passengers’ lives.
Students can view historical representations virtually of various areas of the ship and view a computer-animated sinking of the ship in real-time. Kids will certainly enjoy taking a step back in time to learn about what was once the greatest human-made accomplishment.
17 . Yosemite National Park
Experience the beauty and majesty of Yosemite through the park virtual tour. This park’s many waterfalls, cliffs, and land variations will leave students amazed at what nature can create. Students get to stand at the top edge of the Bridalveil Fall, where if they were truly there, they would not be able to! Check out the beautiful nature of Glacier Point Road or skiing in Badger Pass.
Each section of the tour comes with tour instructions for the teacher. Have students learn about all of the different ecosystems within the park for science or explain the parks’ polar differences. Either way, kids can virtually explore it all!
18 . National Museum of the United States Air Force
This museum will be sure to activate interest in all of your students! The NMUSAF virtual tour lets students explore the early and beginning years of aviation history through the current. There are many awesome teacher resources and activities available to help students better understand the exhibits and history behind all of these awesome flying machines.
19 . Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History virtual tour is one your students will not forget! Kids of all ages and grades will be able to appreciate the amazing natural history in this museum. To explore the world with its different types of wildlife and nature that has been forever frozen in time will surely be a joy to all kids.
20 . The Winchester Mansion
With a recent scary movie and lots of historical mystery behind this house, students are bound to be enthralled with a virtual tour of the famous Winchester Mansion. For a small fee, teachers can unlock the mysterious doors to the Winchester Mansion for a one-of-a-kind virtual field trip. Pair this virtual field trip with a spooky text or some abstract American History lesson.
Further, students will enjoy seeing all of the many different doors that lead through secret passageways and those that lead straight to the ground from the second floor! This is truly a bazaar American treasure.
It is no secret that there are so many different and amazing virtual tours that are available right now when normal field trips are not in the cards for both traditional and homeschooling educators. However, when difficult times present themselves, people learn ways to explore the world differently while still allowing students to take a journey somewhere else (from their seat).
If, for some reason, you didn’t exactly find what you wanted for your students on this list, do what we do and check out “virtual field trips” on Google. There are thousands of different places that you can take your students virtually and let the learning continue!