Going on a field trip is a day that your students will always remember. As librarians, we usually do not get to participate in field trips. I always wanted to join in when second grade goes to Mt. Vernon or third grade visits Monticello. However, it just never worked out.
There are many advantages of taking a virtual field trip. They are much easier to plan. You do not need to collect permission slips and money, book buses, arrange for lunch and organize the 600 parents to want to chaperone. Plus, you are not limited to visiting places within driving distance of your school. And there are numerous ways to connect a field trip to what you are teaching in the library. For example, you can easily tie almost any field trip into a research unit (if there is time left in the school year).
There are so many websites and Facebook posts on all the different places students can “visit”, but as always it is so time-consuming trying to wade through everything. So I have compiled a list of a few virtual trips that I think would be perfect to use with your students during a library lesson. Of course they would work for home-schooled students and classroom teachers just as well. The list is not in any specific order, but I did try to include ones more suitable for older students at the end.
This is a video cam from the Happiness Village Baby Panda Park in Gengda, Sichuan, China. When you go to the website you can choose from watching a live video stream or highlight videos of the baby pandas. There are also links to read facts about pandas and to learn information about the panda park.
This is a coral reef cam from the Atlant Aquarium. Students can view many different species of tropical fish, including stingrays, clown fish, scrawled filefish and Cortez angelfish. Coral reefs are among the most diverse and valuable ecosystems on Earth. Healthy reefs protect nearby shorelines and wetlands, and are home to thousands of species of fishes and corals.
Students can watch live video cameras of the African savanna. In addition to live cameras, there are numerous pre-recorded videos of elephants, leopards, lions, cheetahs and many other animals. To share specific videos with your students, click on Video Highlights. Then you can choose from a variety of videos, most are about 5-6 minutes long.
These videos are from the American Dairy Association. This link has three different videos for students to tour a dairy farm. One is for children ages 4-9, one for kids 10-13 and one for high school students. The videos are hosted on YouTube so you may want to share them through a site like shafeshare.
This is a live webcam from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The webcam is available from 7am – 7pm Pacific time. There are also links to other webcams the aquarium provides.
Students can learn all about the International Space Station with this virtual field trip from NASA. There are links to four different video tours of the ISS. The videos are between 6-10 minutes in length. And of course there are plenty of other educational resources to explore on this page.
Give your students a virtual tour of Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home. This is not a video but more of a 360 degree tour. Students can move around the house and property while reading facts about the estate.
Students can take a behind-the-scenes field trip to the Museum of the American Revolution. It is led by the author of the I Survived series Lauren Tarshis. This is my favorite virtual field trip on this list. And since so many students love the I Survived books I’m sure this will be a hit with your class. The video is about 25 minutes long. There are also plenty of free downloads including a teaching guide and printables.
This is another virtual field trip from Scholastic. This is a 30-minute video and will give students a tour and overview of Ellis Island. There is also a downloadable teacher’s guide.
These videos are from The Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit environmental organization. These field trips are for grades 5-8. They are longer videos, about 40-45 minutes. Topics include coral reefs, the rain forest, ecosystems and habitats and renewable energy. There are teacher guides available to download.
Response Templates for Virtual Field Trips
After your students go on their virtual field trip they will need an opportunity to reflect on what they learned and experienced. I created a response packet you can assign your students to complete after any type of virtual field trip. There are pages on a higher and lower level so you can use it with grades K-5. And since this will most likely be used during distance learning I am offering this in 3 different formats.
- Google Slides file
- Individual image files to easily upload to SeeSaw or other learning platform. You can also upload just one slide to Google Classroom
I also created 2 free response forms you can download right now. They also come in all 3 formats.