1 Plan. Look for a destination or an experience that builds on children's interests. Then ask yourself: Is it compatible with children's attention spans? Will there be long lines? Places to sit? Are there many "do-not-- touch" temptations? What will children gain from the experience?
2 Experience. If possible, take the trip yourself beforehand. Check to make sure it meets your criteria for a successful experience. Also note locations of bathrooms, parking, places for children to have lunch or snacks, and any safety concerns. Don't forget to confirm directions for drivers.
3 Focus. Trips mean so much more when children are prepared for the experience. Many trips also lend themselves to culminating activities, such as drawings, exhibits, class books, and photo albums. And, of course, you can never go wrong with a combination of both.
4 Prepare. Talk about rules: who will walk together, how to behave on the bus, and so on. Make sure name tags are sturdy and won't fall off. (Pinning them to the back of children's shirts or coats works well. They're easy for adults to read, and children aren't tempted to remove them.) Include the school's phone number and the number of the bus taking you back.
5 Include. Along with permission slips, send home information about where you're going and why, what children should wear and bring, the cost, departure and arrival times, lunch provisions, and transportation.
6 Support. Give each volunteer informational sheets stating when to arrive, where to go, what to wear and bring, how to reach you beforehand with any questions, and goals for the trip - and include your thanks! (Also ask someone to be in charge of capturing the experience with a still or video camera.)
7 Don't forget! Bring along emergency information: a list of parents' phone numbers, allergy concerns, and children's special physical needs. Make sure you have a first-aid kit and, if necessary, sunscreen.
8 Record. When you get back, jot down your thoughts - high points, tips to remember, great contacts - for your field-trip file. This way, you'll have information to use another year and to share with other teachers.