Steps to a successful trip Planning is crucial to making the most of your neighborhood adventure.

1. Select a Location

  • Observe your children at play. Note their interests as well as any misconceptions that could be clarified by a community trip.
  • Plan one or two trips that relate to a classroom study or theme.
  • Whenever possible, include children in the decision-making and planning.

2. Visit the Site

  • Investigate the place by yourself and plan ways to focus children's explorations.
  • Look for unsafe areas, find the bathrooms, and check accommodations for any children with special needs.
  • Collect business cards, brochures, menus, fliers, or other materials to share with children. You might take a photo to share too.

3. Plan the Trip

  • Talk to someone who will be there when you and the children visit. Try to arrange a date and time when the site is not too crowded. If possible, schedule trips in the morning when children are less tired. Avoid Friday trips so that you'll have time to extend the experience once you're back in the classroom.
  • Explain to the people at the site that young children need to be able to explore, see, and touch. Ask the shoe repairer if he can give each child a small scrap of stitched leather to touch and feel. The baker might be able to provide dough for children to roll out.

4. Prepare Parents

  • Send information home to parents explaining the trip and inviting them to participate. [See "Parent Participation" on page 32.]

5. Prepare Children

  • Talk with children about what they'll see on the trip. Telling stories, singing songs, adding props to the dramatic-play area, and sharing pictures and items from the site set the scene for the new experience.
  • Together, make a list of words associated with the trip.
  • If possible, bring in related objects from home or the trip site for children to explore. For a restaurant visit, share a spatula, whisk, or eggbeater. Firefighters often lend some of their special clothes to schools before class visits.
  • Ask children what they think they'll see or what they want to learn: "What kinds of workers would you find in a hospital?" "What kinds of shoes do you find in a shoe store?" Record children's responses to questions so you can revisit them after the trip. Work with children to prepare a few interview questions to ask people at the site.

6. Take the Trip

  • Review safety rules with children and parents. [See "Travel Safely" at left.]
  • Point out things you want children to focus on, and ask questions to help them observe, identify, and talk about what they see.
  • Take photos of children and parents to use later in discussions and documentation panels.

7. Extend the Experience Continue exploring the topic back in the classroom. [See "After the Field Trip" on page 36.]

Travel Safely

  • Have parents sign all field trip forms.
  • Review safety rules with children and parents. Good rules include: buckle seat belts, stay seated in buses and cars, always walk with the group, wait for adults before crossing streets, no running.
  • Tell children they are not to talk to anyone they don't know on the field trip.
  • Have children wear tags that include the name and phone number of the school or center.
  • Tell children what to do if they get lost. Identify a safe place to wait for the group, and point out guards and other people they can ask for help.
  • Arrange for parent volunteers or an assistant to provide extra help for any children with special needs.
  • Take a first-aid kit, a cold ice pack, tissues, and extra clothing. Bring medications for children with allergies or other medical needs.
  • If possible, take along a cellular phone - just in case.