Field trips, while being a large undertaking, are in important part of the learning process. Getting children out of the classroom and face-to-face with a topic can bring engagement to a whole new level.
In honor of International Museum Day we recently asked our Facebook fans about their favorite museums to take children to. We got some great ideas including Discovery Cube in Los Angeles, CA; City Museum in St. Louis, MO; and the DuPage Children’s Museum in Naperville, IL. Regardless of where you favorite museum is, there are a few things to keep in mind to make the most of your visit.
- Check if the educational staff at the museum is knowledgeable about young children. Unlike groups of older children, which they may be more familiar with, they will want to keep explanations short and keep the group moving. If they aren’t prepared to lead a young group it might be better if you lead the group yourself.
- Visit the museum on your own ahead of time to become familiar with the layout – where are the bathrooms, snack areas, ticket booth, and other details that will make the day run smoothly.
- If visiting a museum that specializes in a specific topic, choose curriculum activities and children’s books that will help prepare children for what they will encounter. This is also a great time to come up with a list of questions that the children will be able to ponder as you visit the museum.
Day of visit
- Encourage children to bring paper and a pencil to record their observations and if allowed bring a camera to take visual reminders of the class’s visit.
- Consider including one or two short video presentations when available and include hands-on experiences when possible. Many children’s museums have added interactive exhibits specifically for the youngest visitors that prefer to engage all of their senses to learn.
After the visit
- The follow-up discussion can be an important part of the learning process. The children observed and absorbed so much during their visit that the class discussion can be a great way to answer questions that came up after they left the museum and help children learn from each other.
- If the children found a specific topic or exhibit interesting this is a great opportunity to find even more materials on it. Read children’s books and ask children to find out more about the topic to share with each other.
Resource: Open the Door Let’s Explore More! Field Trips of Discovery for Young Children by Rhoda Redleaf
Share your favorite museums and tips in the comments below!