I think we can all agree that field trips are an exciting way to extend classroom learning for school-aged kids. But what about the children that haven’t even started elementary school yet? Daycare centers are dedicating more and more resources to preschool education and school readiness. Naturally, this includes field trips! I know transporting preschoolers sounds like a hassle, but if you plan wisely, the experience will be very much worth the trouble. I’d like to share some of my favorite field trip ideas for childcares, as well as some tips to make Field Trip Day go a little smoother.
The best tip I have for childcares planning a field trip is to ask for parent volunteers. When it comes to small children, you can NEVER have too much supervision. I have a class of eighteen students and, along with myself and my assistant teacher, aim to have three or four parents join us on trips. The fear of potentially losing track of a child often scares daycares away from field trips, but all it takes is a few willing parents to make sure everyone is accounted for. I usually just mention that we need volunteers in the permission slip and ask parents to let me know if they are interested.
Once you have chaperones covered, the next thing to consider when planning a field trip is what the children will gain from the experience. For small children, the answer can be easy: sensory! It has been widely accepted that sensory play- that is, play designed to stimulate one or more of the five senses- is crucial to brain development. That’s why babies and toddlers love touching and tasting things so much. Take advantage of that natural inclination to touch and turn it into a learning opportunity!
One of my all-time favorite places to take my class of three and four-year-olds is the community garden. We are fortunate enough to have one just a couple of blocks from the daycare, so we visit as often as we can. The kids love to smell the flowers, play in the soil, and ask questions about what’s growing. They also have a blast feeling waxy leaves, rigid stems and soft fruits. The most awesome part is that there are always parents and kind members of the community who love to help the little ones pick and prepare their own fresh snacks! The children get to explore texture, color, and taste—all the while getting a lesson on plant life cycles and where food comes from. And the best part, it’s free! Win-win! Finding an exciting field trip really can be as easy as exploring community resources near your school or daycare!
Another of my favorite field trip ideas for childcares is the library. Most public libraries have tons of activities and programs for children of all ages, even those too young to read. For instance, my favorite library often has local authors that volunteer to come read to the kids and talk to them about what they’re learning. They also host interactive puppet shows, art classes and children’s yoga classes. The kids get a fun introduction to language and literacy, and we get a free field trip in a very safe, controlled environment. You can’t really beat that! I take my class at least twice a year, coordinating with the library staff to plan activities every spring. Libraries usually have even more to offer than you think. Contact or visit your local library to see if they allow field trips and what kinds of activities they have to offer.
The last of my field trip ideas for daycares is to visit a local cultural site. I live in Arizona and while my students are too young to get much from visiting a museum, they love visiting one of the many Native American cultural sites in our area. My favorite has the remains of several Paleo-American homes that are open for the public to explore. A trip there always leads to age-appropriate conversations about who lived here before us and what their lives were like. If you have ever spent time with a three-year-old, you know that they never run out of questions! Thanks to the open landscape, there is plenty of opportunity for nature walks and picnics as well, all the while being able to see far enough to spot any wandering kiddos. If you’re thinking about taking your own class to visit a historical or cultural site, a good place to start is contacting your municipal parks and recreation or historical preservation departments. Ask where field trips are allowed and if there are any local experts who could guide a visit and answer questions.
While you’re researching for your field trip, be sure to check that there are bathrooms close by, ideally ones with changing tables. You likely won’t be packing an extra set of clothes for every child, so stay ahead of any potty disasters. I recommend bringing a diaper bag with a dozen or so diapers (or more, depending on your children’s needs), a pack of wipes, gloves, bags for dirty clothes, and a few items of back up clothes. Accidents happen, but don’t let that be a reason to keep your kids from experiencing exciting trips. Be prepared and roll with it. Don’t let a blowout ruin an otherwise fun and educational day.
I’m not saying that taking a class of toddlers on a field trip will ever be easy. It most likely won’t be. But I am saying that if you plan well and create learning opportunities, it will ABSOLUTELY be worth it. Regardless of where you go, any field trip will be a success if your children have a safe and exciting experience. These are just some of my personal favorite field trip ideas for daycares. If you have or teach little ones, I encourage you to explore your community and see what it has to offer. You may be surprised at all the learning opportunities that are just around the corner!
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