Keep them moving and feed their natural curiosity. These are the primary considerations when planning a field trip for preschoolers. Avoid extended periods of idleness like long cars or bus rides, and trips that last for more than half a day. In planning for a whole class, choose a destination that ties in with what is happening in school. Opt for places that are already somewhat familiar and offer new ideas and experiences. Don't take preschoolers into situations which could potentially be dangerous or frightening.
Everyone goes to the grocery store, but if you're a preschooler it's usually a pretty controlled visit, in and out as quickly as possible. A field trip, on the other hand, offers an opportunity to explore the aisles, talk about why things are organized as they are, and maybe even visit with the deli lady and the butcher. Call ahead and see if the manager is willing to provide a tour of parts of the store most of us never get to see.
Take a trip to the bakery; not the kind where you walk in, buy a loaf of bread, and walk out, but the bakery where the bread is made. It's such a welcoming place with all the good smells and eye-popping treats. Preschoolers love to know how things are made. Here, they can find out what goes into preparing some of their favorite treats and what it takes to get them ready to sell. With any luck, they'll walk away with something tasty.
The traditional family farm is fading from the landscape. If you are lucky enough to have one in your area, by all means take your preschooler for a visit. There's so much to learn, such as how different animals look close up, what they eat, and the sounds they make. The farmer can tell them all about what it takes to care for them and why it's important to treat them with respect. The children can walk through the fields and awaken to the understanding that here is where food has its origins.
Touring a train station is a great way to wrap up a lesson on transportation. If you plan ahead, you may even be able to secure a short train ride for the children. This field trip opens up brand new concepts, like cargo, passengers, schedules, rails, conductor and engineer. Train depots also often have displays of railroad memorabilia, often including the story of the role a particular station played in the history of a community.
Zoo in Winter
Everyone goes to the zoo in summer, but what's it like during winter? What happens to the animals? Are there some who like cooler weather? These are fun questions to answer with a winter excursion to the zoo. Plan a visit with a zookeeper who can tell the children if the animals habits change during the winter. Keep in mind that lines are shorter than in the summer and it's easier to get a closer look at the animals. Many zoos have indoor exhibits and special activities just for this season.
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