I am the Queen of Crazy Field Trips. Every time I hand the school secretary a field trip permission form, she laughs and asks where we’re going this time. The joke is that we’re headed for Disneyland come May; she’s already volunteered to chaperone.
Let me assure you we are not headed for Disneyland—ever. Even still, I don’t plan on relinquishing my title any time soon.
This all started when I brought my fifth grader to the 99-cent store across the street from school. He had money goals, so it made sense. Then we headed (as an entire class) to PetSmart, as we had been studying animal vocabulary and PetSmart is a billion times cheaper than the Phoenix Zoo. In fact, all my crazy field trips are free.
This is especially true because self-contained classes in my school district can simply borrow one of the district vans whenever we want to go on a field trip. The district even coughs up a little bit of gas money, opening the door to limitless opportunities for real-world experiences. (Yes, I know I sound like an ad.)
Of course, these field trips aren’t just fun and games. All my kids walked around PetSmart with pencils and clipboards taking notes, finding different animals, and working on their descriptive words in particular (see above). We even came home with a blue betta fish named “The Fish,” which they feed every morning and which we use to discuss both orientation and action words.
Next up is the Arizona State Fair, two Fridays from now. In fact, for the past 30 years, the Kiwanis Club of Phoenix has teamed up with the Arizona State Fair to offer a special free morning to children with exceptionalities called “Kids’ Day at the Fair.” A fellow special ed teacher gave me the heads up about the event, and it got me so excited because my kids rarely have a chance to just be kids and experience childhood events like going to the fair.
I’m absolutely positive Oct. 28 will be a day my students will never forget and I feel so privileged that my district gives the class permission to go on such exciting adventures and allows me to borrow the van. However, this is the only district I’ve ever worked for; while I assume I’m blessed to be in the situation I am, I don’t actually know what field trip situations are like elsewhere.
Though they may sound crazy to the average person, I feel like these trips are essential to my students’ learning and really give them access to real-world experiences and opportunities they would otherwise never encounter.
How about you? What are your thoughts on field trips? Are my students and I just incredibly fortunate? Do you have to fight to let your kids go off campus? I would love some perspective.