Imagine your class traveling to see the Great Pyramid of Giza, touring the International Space Station, or having a face to face conversation with a beloved author. All of these experiences are possible through virtual field trips.
Virtual field trips allow us to take our students on adventures we never could before.
They are fun, very engaging and best of all most virtual field trips are absolutely FREE! There are tons of exciting places to go and connections waiting for you and your classroom to make that are already available.
So where are the best places to find a virtual field trip for your class? And what activities can you provide your students to take the learning further?
Below you will find 20 virtual field trip ideas and activities for your classroom. Educators shared ideas along with links to resources so that you can get started connecting your classroom tomorrow!
20 virtual field trips for your class
Microsoft’s Skype in the Classroom site (SkypeInTheClassroom.com) offers a database of thousands of teachers, hundreds of guest speakers and dozens of free virtual field trips. With contact information. Your class can connect to the world through virtual field trips, Skype lessons, Skype collaborations, mystery Skypes, and guest speakers.
Learn more: About Mystery Skypes and why we need more
With the Google Expeditions app, available on iOs and Android, you can take your class on interactive journeys in both VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality). Through Aquilla Education's website, you can search available expeditions by grade level, subject or location.
3. 360° Cities
Do you want to try diving with tiger sharks? Or maybe parachute jump from 10,000 meters? 360° Cities provides the largest collection of amazing, high-resolution panoramic images of locations all over the world. Some images have sound as well so that the viewer is truly immersed in the experience. Images can be used in VR lessons or on any device!
Nearpod VR allows educators to take their classes on virtual field trips around the world on any device. Nearpod VR works on VR headsets but you don't need to use them to experience a virtual field trip. With over 450 destinations to choose from you can take your kids to so many incredible places! You can also search by subject area so that you can be sure it fits with your class or curriculum.
Street View makes it possible to drop your classroom virtually onto almost any street in the world and walk around. It uses panoramic images that let you turn around, zoom in and walk down roads to check out the scenery. Just grab the little yellow “peg man” and drop him where you’d like to go. (See animation at right.) For practice, try dropping yourself at your doorstep of your school if you’ve never used it before.
Street View includes tons of “Indoor Maps” where you can “walk around” inside buildings. (Click for the full list.) They include:
- The White House
- Alcatraz Prison, San Francisco, California
- Palace of Versailles in France
- Disneyland Paris
- The National Gallery in London, England
- Osaka Aquarium in Japan
- Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece
- Madrid Zoo in Madrid, Spain
TOP TOOL: InstantStreetView.com — Find a location using its search bar. Then share a link with students that takes them directly to the street view you want them to see. Save time!
Field Trip Zoom has an extensive calendar of interactive events that can be live streamed into your classroom. Although Field Trip Zoom is not free they do offer a one month free trial for new schools or school districts.
Google Tour Builder is an exciting way to create your own tour to share a journey and highlight locations along the way using Google Earth. Tour Builder brings together the best of MyMaps and Street View. With Tour Builder, you can take viewers from location to location in first-person 3D glory. Choose the locations, choose how you want them to be seen and add any additional information. Students can view tours that have already been created or create one of their own!
Empatico.org is a free resource that connects classrooms through video. Empatico empowers teachers and students to explore the world through experiences that spark curiosity, kindness, and empathy. Aimed at upper elementary school students, Empatico.org is a way for students and teachers to connect to other classes while focusing on sparking curiosity, kindness, and empathy.
9. YouTube 360°
Did you know that you can watch tons of 360° videos on Youtube? You can search through tons of 360° videos on almost anything. Find exciting videos from National Geographic, Discovery VR, the Science Channel and more to use in your class.
NationalParks.org provides students with electronic field trips that provide students the opportunity to go to parks they may never otherwise get to visit. The National Parks Service offers free ranger-guided virtual field trips on a first come first serve basis.
Take self-guided, room-by-room tours of exhibits from your device. You can walk through the museum and move from room to room through the map. It's an exciting and fun way to explore one of the most famous museums in the world. Visitors can visit permanent exhibits, current exhibits, past exhibits, take a narrated tour and more!
Once you’ve seen your school from the curb on Google Maps Street View, take it to the next level with Street View Treks. These custom-produced exploration experiences are awesome for students. They provide information about the location and videos that pair nicely with the panoramic views. Locations include Nepal, Gombe National Park, the Pyramids of Giza, the Great Barrier Reef (a Street View Trek underwater!) and more.
An extension to Street View and Treks is to let students take you on a walking tour of someplace in the world. They do some research and collect some facts about the location first. Then they load up the location using Street View or Treks. They start recording a screencast video (a video of what’s happening on their screen with their microphone recording their voices). Some free screencasting tools: Screencastify (my favorite), Screencast-O-Matic and Flipgrid (there are others). Students narrate the tour as they “walk” the streets using Street View or Treks.
These virtual tours don’t have to be confined to what you can see from the street. Google Cultural Institute gives you access to top-notch art collections from around the world (Art Project) and modern/ancient world heritage sites (World Wonders). Witness significant moments in history with Historic Moments, giving students a version of a field trip to the past.
15. Mapping fun
Creating or viewing an interactive map with images and information can be the next-best thing to visiting a location, and students can create their own. With Google MyMaps you can take your kids on an educational road trip right from your classroom. In this post by Craig Klement he shows you how to take a road trip with Google MyMaps!
This game is like a surprise virtual field trip every time you play. Geoguessr uses Google Maps Street View and places participants in a random location somewhere in the world. By panning around, zooming or “walking” down the street, participants place a pin on a map to guess where they are. The closer they guess, the more points they win. It’s great for critical thinking and using context clues.
17. Smarty Pins
Smarty Pins is like Geoguessr’s cousin. Granted, it’s a little less like a virtual field trip, but it does use geography-based questions to play. Participants answer questions by dropping a pin where they think the answer is. It’s fun, it’s academic, and it is geography-focused … enough to constitute a virtual field trip experience? I’ll let you decide. 🙂
Part of Google Arts and Culture, The Hidden Worlds of National Parks take participants on a journey through some of the worlds most amazing places. See the Kenai Fjords, Hawaii Volcanoes, Carlsbad Caverns, Bryce Canyon and the Dry Tortugas.
Take a trip step inside 11 dramatic virtual tours some of the most beautiful theaters, concert halls and opera houses in the world. Carnegie Hall, The Colosseum in Rome, and The Sydney Opera House are just a few of the amazing trips you take!
Discovery Education produces some really solid, well produced virtual field trips. They’re live and incorporate images, live video and pre-produced video. The hosts answer questions on the spot during the live broadcast from students who are watching. Past virtual field trips are viewable on video (see video to right from Ford’s Theatre). Each field trip includes classroom resources and activities that teachers can use instantly. Find them on Discovery Education’s events page by selecting “Live/Virtual Field Trip” in the drop-down filter menu.
Tech Like A PIRATE is now available!
10 activities to do on your virtual field trips!
1. Connect with the local community.
If possible try to connect with someone living in the location you are visiting. Utilize the Microsoft Educator Community and see if your class can Skype with someone local to your destination.
A3-Maybe find ways to Google Hangout or Skype with someone currently living in the location of the field trip. #DitchBook— Andrea Meadows (@AndreaLMeadows) October 12, 2018
2. Create or find an accompanying HyperDoc.
HyperDocs are a great way to immerse students in a unit through blended learning. Why not pair your virtual field trip with a HyperDoc lesson or unit to enhance the experience before, during and after the trip?
3. Utilize pre-made lessons.
In addition to providing amazing virtual field trips, Nearpod also has over 450 ready-to-teach VR lessons!
4. Preview or review the virtual field trip with a game.
Kids love virtual field trips almost as much as they love games. Add even more fun to the experience with a Jeopardy-style game, puzzles or a game-based learning tool like Gimkit, Quizizz or Kahoot!
5. "Travel" to a destination more than once!
Who says you can only go on your virtual field trip once? An added benefit of taking kids somewhere virtually is that you can go again and again. Take your students back and experience the trip from a different perspective.
#ditchbook A3 after the virtual trip - not a bad idea to relive it from another perspective. Perhaps with another goal/objective— Cherie McLaughlin (@SraMcLaughlin) October 12, 2018
6. Add a stem connection with 3D printing or a makerspace challenge.
After visiting a place have students create an artifact from the destination. Students can use everyday household items to create or take it up a few notches by having them create a 3D object in a program like Tinkercad. If you are lucky enough to have access to a 3D printer students can even print their artifact and share with the class.
A3: Use it as a prompt for writing. Or, have students create an artifact in a MakerSpace for whatever you may be studying. Keep it alive by theming your week based on your location. Students could also share a GoogleTour with classmates. #DitchBook— 𝒞𝓇𝓎𝓈𝓉𝒶𝓁 𝒩𝑜𝓁𝑒𝓃 (@techNOLIEgy) October 12, 2018
7. Take others to your destination with green screen.
Have students share what they learned about a location by creating their own news report. Use an app like DoInk to transport students back to the location of your trip with Green Screen.
8. "Travel" with another class.
Students can become virtual pen pals with classes all over the world through Flipgrid's GridPals. Take your students on a virtual field trip to a famous landmark near your GridPal's location or use Google Street View to visit their town!
9. Have students do offline activities to reflect on and share their virtual field trip.
Get hands-on with activities like writing postcards, creating sketchnotes, making scrapbooks or a creative writing lesson after your trip.
A3: After a virtual field trip, we can take it farther by...let me count the ways:— Lᴀᴜʀᴀ Sᴛᴇɪɴʙʀɪɴᴋ #RockNTheBoat (@SteinbrinkLaura) October 12, 2018
Create comic Strip highlights or #sketchnotes
Creative writing activities
Create "scrapbook" highlights
(off the top of my head)#DitchBook
10. Focus students with a learning target.
Have a learning target during your virtual field trip allows your students to focus their observations and connect it back to the content. As Brian notes below, be sure to allow for spontaneous noticings too. You never know where your students' observations might take you!
What are your best virtual field trip lesson ideas? How have you used them in class? Which of these ideas could you start using? Leave your ideas in a comment below!
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