How can teachers and families go to faraway places right from their own homes and classrooms? Here is the ultimate list of virtual field trips that will take you around the world right from your home or classroom. These online field trips will literally open up the world no matter where you live.
The Ultimate List of Virtual Field Trips
The benefits of taking kids on field trips is a valuable educational experience. Traveling is a fantastic way to raise global citizens who are empathetic and tolerant of people who are from different backgrounds or cultures. However, we know that time, money, (and listening to awful bus singing) can be a hindrance.
A friend of mine worked on the newest virtual field trip project at the US State Department “Of the People: Protecting our Ocean”. They partnered with Discovery Education for this amazing trip. It will take students inside the “Our Ocean” conference where global leaders in environmental sections of government will collaborate to take action.
You can watch as passionate and global thinkers discuss resolutions to illegal fishing, climate change, ocean conservation, and more. The effects of this conference will affect the stability of nations around the world and classroom teachers can have very in-depth conversations with students with this field trip.
There are also follow up activity materials for Grades 3-12.
If you read many of my posts, you know I am HUGE Scholastic fan, and their adventure is like a modern-day Oregon Trail. Kids will grab their virtual passports and go explore the world from their computer. Like my 5th grade teacher did with our Oregon trail adventure, students can keep a travel journal (this one is digital and not a composition book like we had in the 90’s:).
Students can choose from a list of countries (or teachers can choose based on their theme/unit). Teachers can assess their learning by what they write about on different topics throughout their online trip.
Smithsonian is one of the best resources when it comes to online availability for exploration. Many schools and home-school groups go to Washington DC for an annual trip to see our nation’s capital. However, if money or time is a hindrance, students can experience the whole museum from home. This field trip includes a virtual self-guided tour of every room in the museum.
There is an exhibit map and a suggested navigation route with close up views of objects and panels in each room. No detail can be missed with this amazing lifelike tour. This virtual trip works very well on a SmartBoard.
Students from all over the world are always curious to see inside the White House, even if they are not American. Thanks to TV and movie exaggerations, the White House has an inevitable mystique surrounding what is REALLY inside. “Inside the White House” is appropriate for ages 9-13 for learning about government.
Students will have the option to watch videos or take an interactive tour through the West Wing, the South Lawn, the East Wing, and the Residence. The tour concludes with a slide show of past presidents with important historical information if your American History or Civics class wants to go more in depth.
Google Lit Trips literally lets you read the world. You can find literature for grades K-12 and even higher education here. Peer into The Grapes of Wrath by riding in an old beat-up jalopy and watch the world while you sit next to the characters. Or shake your tailfeathers next to Mr. and Mrs. Mallard’s duckling family in Make Way for Ducklings.
Google Lit Trips are free, downloadable files that give you a map to the journeys of characters from famous literature on the surface of Google Earth.
At various points in the story, there are pop up resources that include text to world connections, relevant media, and discussion starters. Think of this field trip like a 3D experience at Sea World or Disneyland where you can add to your students’ book experience by traveling with the characters.
You need to make sure you have Google Earth downloaded. You will also need to register an account, (completely free), and then request the Lit Trip you want. They will email you with the download. (It takes a while, so I suggest not leaving it to the last minute.)
This next field trip was a very popular favorite for learning about cultures around the world. More importantly, studying cultures is used to teach students how to stay healthy and live a long life. It is in an online course format (free with registration).
This field trip allows students to choose a team of doctors to investigate why certain people live longer than others in parts of the world. They investigate their spiritual practices, the herbal teas they drink, how much exercise through walking is done per day, etc.
At the end of the trip, students take the data collected by the virtual doctors and vote on the 8 factors that contribute most to longevity. If you have students from these places like Japan, Costa Rica, etc. it is a proud and teachable moment to connect the world with your students.
There are differentiated versions for younger and older kids. “Daily Dispatch” would be for grades 3-6 and “Short Report” for K-2nd. There are some standards-aligned curricula available for language arts, math, science, health, and geography.
Bonus: There is a 4-week fitness challenge as well. Very cool visual graphs are available for a nice math connection.
This alluring Arctic dogsled expeditions and Arctic research is free to the entire K-12 community. You can also study and experience the cultures of the Arctic. For example, you can study mathematical functions by grouping students together to make the fastest dog sled. Activities and lesson plans are included for student engagement to be through the roof. Standard-aligned curricula are also available.
Experience a European icon and take a virtual tour of the Louvre. This website gives students 360-degree panoramic view of many of the museum’s halls so they can experience the amazing architecture. Tours currently include Egyptian Antiquities, Remains of the Louvre’s Moat, and Galerie d’Apollon. There are even tours of rooms that are not available when you take the actual tour in Paris!
For the adventurers in your classroom or a study on landforms, experience Mt. Everest without the ice and oxygen tank. This virtual experience has many exquisite panoramas and photos. You can have students read fun facts and travel logs to feel a connection from those brave and fierce enough to attempt the climb.
This next website offers a student friendly search engine of gorgeous landscapes around the world. Students can access views of cities, natural landscapes and much more. I used this classroom often along with a Google search since the panorama gives you the 3D picture and enhances how magnificent places are instead of just a picture.
If children need bucket list motivation for traveling, check out the modern Seven Wonders of the World. (Colosseum in Rome, The Great Wall of China, Petra in Jordan, The Taj Mahal in India, Machu Picchu, Christ Redeemer, and Chichén Itza)
Younger children (K-3) will love going to the moon with these amazing interactive resources from the Connections Academy Blog. Older elementary kids (Grades 3-6) can explore Mars through NASA’s downloadable virtual field trip. It is an immersive multimedia application developed to support student and user exploration.
These are areas on Earth that have been identified as analog sites to regions on Mars. Analog sites are those areas that share some common traits with sites on Mars. These virtual field trips have been identified based on their significance and importance to NASA.
You can follow your NASA field trip with Google Earth’s version of exploring the moon. Students can take tours of Apollo missions from takeoff to landing (narrators are actual Apollo astronauts. The virtual mission allows students to explore 3-D models of landed spacecraft, zoom into 360-degree photos of astronaut footprints on the moon.
You can also watch rare TV footage of the Apollo missions, and explore the surface of the moon. These virtual field trips work very well on Smartboards for whole group lessons as well as individual Chromebooks, iPads, or laptops.
A graduate student at Boise State University created this virtual field trip for high school students studying music history. Birthplaces of Music: A Virtual Field Trip explores the world of music history with engaging stories and videos and is fully interactive. You will travel to Vienna, New Orleans, Cleveland, and Bristol Tennessee to visit the birthplaces of classical, jazz, rock n’ roll, and country music.
I love how the form and sound of each genre is explored through artists, as well as how geography played a large role in the culture of music around the world. You will need to download QuickTime to view some of the videos for of the virtual field trips.
Take an expedition to St. Helens, or a helicopter ride above the Grand Canyon or Manhattan. See Disneyland Paris from the sky! Planet in Action will take you on magical adventures thanks to virtual field trips on Google Earth.
The format is as follows:
First you watch a recording of the landmarks.
Next, you “hire” a student pilot who can take the class on a helicopter ride and the Google map will tell you exactly where you are.
Finally, students can create their own virtual tour that can be saved for a portfolio or shared with others. The possibilities for assessment and lessons are endless.
Bonus: For a writing follow up activity, the kids can create postcards of their virtual adventure.
The U.S. National Park Service has their own version of a tour of the Statue of Liberty which is similar to Planet in Action.
This is a favorite of mine after I got a teaching job in Egypt and felt a little unqualified to teach Egyptian kids about the Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza. I used this field trip in my classroom in Latvia before I arrived to practice! 🙂
This virtual trip will take you through the tombs, temples, burial chambers, and more. There are panorama photos that allow the experience to be interactive. You can visit Giza as well as Luxor (ancient city of Thebes) and explore the New and Old Kingdoms. A special highlight is the 140-foot-long wooden felucca boat that is 4,600 years old. These same felucca boats are still used today when you take a tour on the Nile.
For other field trips on Ancient Egypt for middle and high school students, check out these links:
- NOVA: Online Pyramid Adventure
- Discovering Ancient Egypt: The Pyramids & Temples of Egypt
- National Geographic: Explore the Pyramids
- King Tut One: The Pyramids
There has been a huge amount of publicity with the National Park Service celebrating its centennial year in 2016. Windows into Wonderland is the Park’s field trip to Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone has the reputation as the “world’s first national park”. This is a fun adventure while students get to watch cartoons as well as actual photos of the park.
Students can choose which series they want to do (or do all of them). An animated member of the Yellowstone Ministry of Mysteries will take them to investigate geysers, hot springs, and animals that Yellowstone is famous for. These virtual field trips are ideal for Grades 5-8, but older and younger kids may enjoy them as well.
The most recent virtual field trips:
I would suggest this field trip be done in smaller groups since there are so many options for interactive learning. There are games (like solving mysteries) and quizzes included on the website as well. There is also a live component of these field trips which is a Q&A with park experts via online message board. However, this feature is only active for two days after each video premieres. Teachers of Grades 5-8, there are lesson plans for after the field trip that include many fun scientific experiments with everyday household items.
I hope your students (or kids) can explore something new and wonderful through the resources provided here. I will note that nothing can take the place of a REAL experience, so be sure to take your students and kids traveling as far and wide as you possibly can!
Whether you go on a virtual field trip or one in real life, be sure to pick up a book as a travel souvenir!
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