When you run a daycare or preschool, being cooped up inside all the time can get boring. Sometimes, it’s nice to ‘shake things up’ a bit, by going on an outing with the kids. You can even incorporate them with hands-on-learning activities, if you’re covering a topical unit.
As long as you have enough adults per child (whether child care workers, or parent volunteers), many local businesses are happy to take school groups. In fact, they may even have special programming them.
Below are preschool field trip ideas, as well as lesson topics they can be used for, when teaching various subjects throughout the year.
1) Visit a bowling alley with the preschool classroom
Book a bowling day with the little tots! It’s a great indoor activity that totally beats trying to learn this game with plastic balls and pins. The kids will see a real bowling alley, and learn a little about how the game is played by ‘grown ups.’
According to this post, there is a lot that bowling can teach preschoolers. For example, balance and coordination, taking turns, and of course, counting! Well, bowling math might be a bit much for the really little preschoolers. But it’s ok, they can try naming numbers on a screen, and learn how games keep score.
And yes, there are ‘little balls’ for this age group! Just make sure the bowling alley you book at has this, as well as the kid-size shoes.
2) Teach preschoolers ice skating with a trip to the rink
Talk about teaching balance! A preschool field trip to the ice skating rink is a great winter sports activity for them. Rinks usually have balance bars for new skaters to glide along the ice with, as a teaching step.
Apart from lessons about the science of ice, and sports, another cool thing to learn about at the ice skating rink is the ice resurfacer, or the Zamboni. If you call in advance, the ice skating rink you visit might even be willing to explain how it works to the classroom! It’s perfect for a lesson on mechanics, inventions, and hey, safety too!
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3) Go to a science centre or museum as a preschool field trip
In the Vancouver area, we have a cool, spherical building that houses Science World. Inside, you can find all sorts of neat science experiments and lessons, including presentations about bubbles and topics that kids find super entertaining. It’s also playful and interactive. There are mirror rooms, virtual reality exhibits, art projects, water experiments, body models (for seeing inside the human system), and more.
So basically, at science centres, you can pick a topic your class is going through, then go have fun with it at Science World. Or, teach the lesson while you’re there!
See related on our blog:
- Teaching preschoolers about shadows – a great early childhood science lesson
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4) Go the aquarium or the zoo with your preschoolers
Aquariums are great for winter, and zoos are good for when the weather is more predictably going to be nice. But, both can be your preschool field trip in any season.
Combine this trip with a lesson on biology, and animals, of course. Teach kids how fish can ‘breathe’ underwater. And the types of animals that eat plants, and the ones that eat meat.
Before you go to these spots, call in advance to see if they have kid-programming available. A lot of the time there are pre-made lessons and presentations especially for school classrooms. Sometimes, they plan presentations throughout the day, at certain times, for all ticket-holders too. But if you can get your “VIP school access,” you may get more privileges, like being able to pet some animals, or feed them. It all depends on the organization you visit, so call in advance to find out! It’s worth a shot!
5) See a working farm and navigate through corn mazes at a pumpkin patch, for a fall preschool activity
There’s nothing more ‘fall’ than a pumpkin patch. Many offer kid-related activities, hay rides, petting zoos, country music, and – almost always – a corn maze too (though these can be separated on different farms).
Our advice: don’t make a pumpkin patch field trip just about pumpkin carving. Teach kids about farm life. Show them seeds inside the pumpkins, that make more pumpkins! Look at other types of squash. Pick apples if the farm has them. Show kids where food comes from, so they don’t think it ‘magically’ appears at the grocery store. Use it as a health lesson on food nutrition, too!
But if you just want to get out and have fun with the preschool class, this is a great field trip option for that, too.
If you do get to visit a corn maze, be sure to learn about how corn mazes are made. There may actually be cool technology involved, depending on the farm you visit.
And of course, before you go, book in advance as a school group. The farms may have special events just for that purpose, with teachable presentations, too.
6) Get wet and cool down at local water parks (splash parks)
In the summer heat, you don’t just have to resort to nearby parks – try a water park instead! Make sure the kids have their ‘get wet’ clothes and water shoes on, before you go (this will take some pre-planning with the parents).
We also advise that in a setting like this, where the park is public, and there will be kids and adults from outside the classroom present, that your pupils wear noticeable vests. We use bright, neon yellow vests to mark out our kids, so we can keep an eye on them, as they ‘swarm around’ like bees in the playgrounds.
What’s the lesson of a water park? Well, first off, you can teach about water consumption and recycling, and water physics. But also, playing outside in general is really good for kids – and it’s not just about the vitamin D to help their bones from the sunshine, either! They learn gross motor skills, too. They also learn how to entertain themselves out of boredom with creative solutions – and that’s a real lesson, not a made-up one!
You can incorporate lessons in an outdoor environment if there are forested areas or trails nearby, which is likely (especially in Vancouver!). You can also have a picnic and teach kids about food, or sharing and manners, too.
See related on our blog:
- 4 Top benefits of outdoor education in early childhood
- 3 Top benefits of downtime for kids and why they need it
7) Build sand castles and teach preschoolers about marine life at the beach
In the summer, if you have a beach or lake nearby, you can do a collective project with the preschoolers: build a sandcastle together!
Before you go, you can plan what the castle will look like, and even practice with mini sand bins, using sensory stations in the classroom.
Get all the kids involved, so each has a part. Some can collect rocks, some can fill buckets with sand, some can build the canal or the moat. Maybe some can build a bridge with sticks.
Before or after your sand castle project, teach the kiddos about marine life at the beach. Where did those beautiful shells come from? Are we allowed to collect them for art projects (some city bylaws prohibit this by the way). What are the barnacles that get ‘stuck’ to the pier? Are there people crab fishing? How can we catch crabs? What about seaweed? What does it do? Can we eat all kinds of seaweed? There are so many lessons that can come out of a preschool field trip to the beach!
You can also teach water safety at the beach. Ensure each kid has a life jacket, and can be easily spotted by the preschool caregivers. If you don’t have enough adults to watch over kids for a swim activity, then just don’t do it.
Remember this: drowning never ‘sounds’ or ‘looks’ like a struggle! It can be quiet and unnoticeable. So, just don’t take risks, especially when you have a large group.
8) Take the class to an airfield to learn about aerodynamics and airplanes
Whatever the season, an airfield can be an educational field trip option for preschooler to learn about these flying machines. They may even get to meet a real pilot, or sit in a real plane too!
You may want to give the kids a lesson about aerodynamics and airplanes before you go. Use model toy airplanes, or build-a-plane kits.
Also, try to book a speaker in advance. If they can show up in costume, all the better for the imaginative minds of this age group!
9) Visit a firehall to learn about fire safety, and fire prevention
Fire halls are a classic field trip idea, and preschoolers can learn a lot from them. First off, a fireman in a giant fire suit, next to a giant, red, sparkly truck is just plain inspiring for preschoolers. Especially if they’ve only seen these things in cartoons, or with scaled-down toy versions.
But apart from how cool a fireman and fire truck can be, once you have their attention, you can teach kids about fire safety. Actually, the cool fireman (or fire lady!) can do that – the kids will likely listen to them more!
10) Visit local markets and grocery stores to learn about marketing, plus how to use and count money
We recently wrote about teaching kids money management at an early age. A great activity to teach preschoolers about the value of money is to take them to a grocery store, or local market. They can learn how to buy and sell (small things of course, for this activity!).
Teach them how to count prices, and what the cash register is for. There’s a chance the local grocery store may be willing to lend you a worker for a little while, to teach a few lessons about merchandise, or to show the back store room, or how food comes in on trucks.
There are plenty of off-shoot lessons you can learn at a market, too. For example, you can teach about food waste, food nutrition, or buying from local farmers. You can teach the difference between handmade and manufactured merchandise. And, you can teach about marketing and advertising, too, and its effects on what we buy. That is – all at an age-appropriate level for these four or five year olds!
11) Take a preschool trip to the local library – a surefire hit on a rainy day
When in doubt, the library is always a good spot for a preschool field trip. Teach phonics, have circle time, learn singing games, read quietly, use the computers – it can all be done at the library!
See related on our blog:
- 5 Simple ways to teach preschoolers phonics basics
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Preschool field trip ideas are a fun way to teach your class with hands-on learning
Of course, field trips take a lot of planning and preparation. You’ll need signatures from parents, and maybe even parent volunteers to help watch kids, or give rides. Or, you’ll need to book a school bus. But in the end, they’re worth it. They help kids learn in a hands-on way. They can see how their lessons in the classroom translate to real life.
Plus, they’re fun, and provide a refreshing change of scenery from the everyday classroom.
Preschool field trips can also vary greatly. Check out local events, farms, museums – and you may even be inspired to teach something new to your class!
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- How to find and use teachable moments as an early childhood educator
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