Virtual Field Trips for Middle School
Virtual field trips for middle school should be a regular part of your homeschool. While it would be amazing to travel the world, it’s not realistic. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to bring the world into our homes.
The computer and online learning have taken away the hurdles of transportation, time, and money, leaving us with the ability to see the world with the click of a mouse.
This is awesome for homeschoolers, and I think all families should be taking advantage of the wide variety of field trips that are available right now.
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What are Virtual Field Trips?
Online visits give kids to chance to explore the world without leaving their homes or classrooms. It’s a simulated excursion that often closely mirrors what they would learn if they were visiting a location in person.
To take a virtual field trip, all you need is an internet-connected computer, tablet, or phone to access a location’s website that houses the material you want to view and follow the directions.
Some journeys comprise a virtual tour where you use your mouse or navigation arrows to move through a location or exhibit. Others include a bunch of links that will take you to different parts of the website.
Right now excursions that use video conferencing software are very popular. This real-time online tour is extremely educational because it offers a more personal experience and gives both the tour guide and students the ability to interact and ask questions, just as if they were together.
Essentially, they give students the chance to explore the world, see places they’re learning about, and meet people from across the globe, without having to travel.
They’re a wonderful way to add something different to a typical school day.
How Are Virtual Field Trips Helpful in Education?
I fully believe that for homeschoolers, the world is our classroom. We’re fortunate that we have the flexibility to personalize our lesson plans and can use whatever tools we can find to help our kids fully understand what they’re learning.
We can bring subjects to life by using interactive methods.
That’s why I’m such a fan of online field trips. Instead of just reading about subjects, kids can see famous landmarks, view beautiful artwork, experience science, and even visit space. They’re also one of my favorite activities for studying cultural geography.
And it’s all done from the comfort of home.
Plus, the vast majority of them are free, so why not take advantage of these amazing benefits out there for students?
There are electronic outings out there for every school subject. It’s incredibly easy to add them to art, science, history, and geography classes. There are also tours to teach kids life skills and some that they can take just for fun.
Travel also exposes kids to locations and cultures that they don’t experience at home, making them better world citizens.
Whether you’re taking a virtual tour as part of your homeschooling day, as a distance learning assignment or just to get out of the house so to speak, it’s a great way to liven up your tween’s day.
Best Virtual Field Trips for Middle School
- Bring American history to life for your tween by touring Washington D.C.
- Check out the famous landmarks and cool sites in New York City from home.
- Use these Martin Luther King, Jr. online resources to help your middle schooler learn all about this famous civil rights activist.
- Add some online tours to your science lessons. Here are a bunch that cover a variety of science topics.
- You can still see the natural beauty of our nation’s national parks, even if you can’t visit in person.
- Alaska is a stunning place to visit, whether virtually or in person. Families will love seeing its raw beauty, majestic mountains, and unique wildlife through a variety of online resources.
- Tweens will enjoy adding some of these fun virtual tours to their schedules.
- Take a virtual tour of the Alamo and then add some suggested activities and resources to your history lessons.
- Check out the beauty of the Emerald Isle with these online tours of Ireland.
How to Choose Virtual Tours for Teens
Ideally, you’ll want to plan an online trip that aligns with the material you tween is learning. Think about what topics you’d like your kids to dive deeper in to and start there.
Are they struggling with a subject? Sometimes interacting directly with the material can spark something that helps them finally get it. Or are there lessons they can’t get enough of? Find some online learning opportunities for them to go even deeper.
Look for excursions that are age appropriate and incorporate a variety of learning styles into the presentation. Middle schoolers will most likely get bored clicking through a bunch of slides, but a 360-degree virtual tour that also includes audio would likely keep their attention.
Many locations also offer educational material that you can download for free to use in your homeschool. They’re often full of extra videos, hands-on activity ideas, lesson plans, personal interviews, and more.
The more interactive you make it, the better your tweens will grasp the material you want them to learn.
What to Do After the Online Field Trip?
The last thing you want to do is get your kids all excited about what they learned while they were taking a tour and then never discuss it again.
Think about what you would do if you were taking an in-person field trip. Most likely, you would have your tween do some research before the outing and then use what she experienced to continue the learning afterward. Why not do that with one she takes from home?
If the online tour centered on a subject your young teen is currently studying or if she got incredibly excited about something she discovered, it’s important to use the momentum of the trip to keep the learning moving forward.
Make the interest last by working on some relatable hands-on activities with your tween. Not only will it give you a chance to talk to her about what she learned, but it also offers her the opportunity to go even deeper into the subject matter.
Some ideas include:
- If your online experience included a trip to another country, cook a native dish together. We used to have geography dinners in our house, and this would be the perfect addition to a geography field trip.
- Have your tween do some note booking about the subject of the field trip. This will give him the chance to think critically about what he learned while also working on his writing skills. He could use this Colonial Notebooking unit after a virtual trip to Colonial Williamsburg.
- Was your virtual field trip to a famous art museum? Ask your older kids to choose their favorite piece of artwork and have them either recreate it or use their preferred medium to create something in a similar style. My tweens had fun making their own version of Monet’s work with chalk pastels.
- Find an age-appropriate craft to complete. For example, if you’ve taken a trip centered on the American Pioneer days, your middle schooler could make this braided rug.
- Play a game that relates to something your tween learned. Perhaps a game from a historical time period, like these early American history games, or one that’s popular with kids in another country.
- Read books on the topic. Choose a variety of genres that relate to the subject like non-fiction, historical fiction, and classics set in a location or time period, etc.
Hopefully, you’ve seen why virtual field trips are the perfect addition to any homeschooling day or distance learning experience. They’re free, easy, and the perfect way to get your tweens exploring this great big world they live in.
Here are some of the best resources to use before, during, and after your trip.
- Build jigsaw puzzles as a family that highlights the tour, like this puzzle of the famous landmarks in Washington DC.
- Use maps of the location to get a better idea of the area’s layout like this one of New York City.
- Expand your tween’s armchair learning by using interesting guidebooks.
- Older kids can build their own LEGO skyline.
- Read more about the subject of your virtual tour with some fun books.
- If your tween is more creative, there are a bunch of relevant coloring books available. This one could be used when taking a virtual field trip to one of the world-famous zoos.
I’m pinning this list for later. We try to go on virtual field trips whenever we can’t get out for a “real” one.
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