Getting out of the classroom for a bit of on-site extracurricular learning can do wonders for high school students. Field trips are always a welcome break from the regular schedule, not to mention a great way to delve deeper into their subjects with a bit of adventure and fun. Keeping high schoolers excited about these off-campus excursions while also keeping costs down can be a challenge, but it can be done.
1. Step Into the Footprints of History
For students studying history, getting into the physical context of what they are hearing in class can be a great way to enhance learning. Check your local area for historical sites to visit including battlefields, museums and historical homes along with other landmarks. Taking the historical narrative on the road can help students embrace the events they are reading about in class.
Plus, many of these sites may offer periodic reenactments of historical events. For instance, Civil War and American Revolutionary War sites sometimes conduct mock battles to illustrate the actual events that took place there. Many of these reenactments are accompanied by discussion and question and answer time with experts to help students fully grasp the event. And perhaps the best part is that most of these sites and events are free for the public to attend, so students will not incur a cost to attend the field trip.
2. Experience Science Firsthand
Classes studying the sciences like chemistry, biology and physics may enjoy a trip to a local science museum for some hands-on activities. If the museum does have an admission charge, they often offer bulk pricing for large groups to help your school and students save a bundle on a class trip to the site.
Science museums offer a variety of activities and exhibits that will allow your students to further explore some of the assignments and lessons they have experienced in the classroom. Museums such as the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas, offer hands-on exhibits as well as beautifully created films that explore scientific topics in an engaging way.
3. Foreign Language Field Trips
For students studying foreign languages, walking into the cultural context of that language will offer a unique perspective on understanding this new tongue. Most cities offer periodic opportunities for students to experience a bit of the culture of the foreign language they are studying.
Check your area’s local calendar for unique events such as a yearly Spanish cultural celebration or a French food fair. These events often include musical performances in those particular languages and give visitors a taste of the culture.
If your city has specific areas of town dedicated to the cuisine and culture of a particular language and ethnicity, consider taking a trip to a local Chinatown or Germantown, sampling the restaurant fare in the area and visiting any cultural sites that may be open to the public.
4. Take in a Show
Students studying the visual and performing arts have no shortage of unique field trip ideas. Museums are a perfect free or inexpensive trip for a drawing or painting class to examine and sketch the works of the masters. Many museums, such as The Met in New York, offer special student pricing for school groups.
If your students are studying the performing arts, look for a local theatre company that would be willing to accommodate your class. Occasionally, you will find theatre touring companies that host special student showings for a much lower ticket price, all in the name of helping students get to experience a big stage performance in their hometown.
5. Recreational and Athletic Outings
Whether your students are star athletes or just major sports fans, there are lots of ways to enjoy a sports-oriented field trip without breaking the bank. Some professional sporting organizations, such as the Carolina Panthers, offer school groups the opportunity to tour their facility at a reduced rate.
And when it comes to taking a field trip specifically designed to blow off steam, recreational outings always do the trick. Again, the key to saving money is checking on special bulk pricing or discounts for school trips. Amusement parks, local water parks and other outdoor venues are always an enjoyable trip for older students. Some feature ropes courses, swimming, ball games and picnic areas to let your students enjoy a day out together.
6. Get Ready to Serve
A final idea for a free high school field trip is one that helps serve the community while also giving teens a break from the classroom and helping educate them on ways they can put their skills to use making the world a better place. Local environmental groups often host clean-up days and preservation projects that students can partner with. Plus, plenty of food banks and local shelters welcome extra hands to serve. While inexpensive and educational, these service project field trips allow students to stretch their muscles together and perhaps find a cause they can be passionate about in the years ahead.
Teachers all over the country, like those dedicated teachers from Teach for America, are always on the lookout for fun field trips for older students. Thankfully, keeping costs low is possible by exploring some of these free or inexpensive ideas for classroom outings.