We are living in hard times. Several states are asking local school districts to cut their budgets, sometimes in half. Teachers have to find innovative ways to keep their kids engaged and learning, while doing with less. Traditionally field trips have been a great resources help kids make connections to what they are learning about in class. Instead of just reading about Abraham Lincoln students can visit his home in Springfield or Fords Theater as part of a trip to Washington D.C. But honestly, unless you live in Springfield or near Washington D.C. those trips might be out of reach for "cash-strapped" schools and districts.
Introducing the Virtual Field Trip, where you can travel the world without ever leaving the classroom.Wikipedia describes Virtual Field Trips as "guided exploration through the Web that organizes a collection of pre-screened, thematically based web pages into a structured online learning experience." Sounds cool huh?
While virtual field trips can never replace the hands-on experiences we want our students to have they can come close. But you may be thinking to yourself, where can I find these? Where do I start? The folks over at the LDS Homeschooling Blog have made it so easy. They have compiled a list of 100's of virtual field trips for your students to enjoy. The list is broken down into museums and buildings, science and nature, regional tours, factory tours, and educational webcams and videos. Here are a few of my favorite tours.
Historical White House Tour
Smithsonian Institutional Tour
The Vatican Museum
Van Gogh's Virtual Tour
Safari Touch Tank
The Farm Tour
NYC's Virtual Central Park
Virtual Great Barrier Reef (opens in new tab)
Ghirardelli Chocolate Making (opens in new tab)
There are tons more out there. A simple Google Search returns 1000's. And it is easy to create your own vitrual field trip. In Google Earth you can visit just about every corner of the globe. Studying Mt. Everest? Climb to the top. Wanna see what the Grand Canyon looks like? Do a virtual fly over. You can even travel the streets your favorite characters from your favorite novels with Street View. The possibilities are really endless!
This is just a handful of what is available and there are several other resources on the web for virtual field trips. What is great is that these can be done as a class or in small groups. I mean think about it, how else could you have every student have a different field trip experience on the same day, for free? So head on over to the Virtual Field Trip List and plan your next trip!