You found our list of the best virtual field trips.
Virtual field trips are class outings that take place online, via platforms like Zoom, Google Street View or websites. While some of these activities consist of pre-recorded tours and videos, the best virtual field trip ideas tend to involve live video feed and student interaction with guides. Examples activities include digital walks along The Great Wall of China and a scrollable deep sea dive. These activities are also known as “online field trips” and “digital field trips”.
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- virtual field trip ideas
- virtual field trips for kids
- Zoom field trips
Here is the list!
List of virtual field trip ideas
From virtual cockpit tours to online historical sites to do-it-yourself digital field trips, here is a list of ideas for virtual field trips to captivate and educate students.
1. Online Zoo (Behind the Scenes)
A digital zoo tour is one of the best virtual field trips for kids. While virtual trips may not let students see otters float, elephants play, and lions strut up close, a digital tour allows for more intimate behind-the-scenes access.
Your class can get close with the animals and walk paths usually reserved for zookeepers. While you may not be able to fit 30 squirming first graders into a baby animal nursery or an operating room, the guide can easily broadcast from these venues. Best of all, since the visit takes place entirely online, you can visit a zoo that is otherwise far from you.
Here is a starter list:
- The Maryland Zoo
- San Antonio Zoo
- San Diego Zoo
- Cincinnati Zoo (self-guided tours, livestream safari and feeding times)
Many other zoos stream live animal webcams that you and your class can watch. You can also contact your local zoo directly to inquire about facilitated virtual tours and school group discounts.
During the online visit, your students can ask questions using the hand raising or chat features in the video conferencing platform. Once your tour concludes, your students can enjoy thematic snacks such as zebra cakes, goldfish, and of course, animal crackers.
2. Virtual Safari
When you do a virtual safari, your students can observe lions, elephants and other animals in their natural habitat. Wild Earth offers twice daily live safaris. Since the broadcast occurs on African time, your best bet is to tune in for the sunset safari, which live streams during 9:00am – 12:30pm Eastern Standard Time. The safari broadcasts from several nature reserves and features animals, such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, and hyenas. During the tour, viewers can ask park rangers questions. The unscripted nature of the broadcast lends an element of excitement, since animal sightings are always a surprise.
Learn more at Wild Earth.
3. Under the Sea Visit
Unless you are secretly Miss Frizzle from The Magic Schoolbus, you cannot whisk your class to the bottom of the ocean in a submarine. However, you can lead your students on an online field trip of the ocean.
The Deep Sea by Neal Agarwal shows all sorts of marine life in the ocean. Viewers can scroll deeper into the ocean, discovering the animals that dwell at each depth. For a fun pre-tour exercise, distribute a handout with the names of various species and challenge students to guess at which depth the creature lives. Then, check answers as you plunge further down into the ocean.
Journey to The Deep Sea.
4. Aquarium Webcam Livestream
The Monterey Bay Aquarium hosts live cams for animals, including sea otters, penguins, jellyfish, and sharks. Aquarium employees narrate during feeding time, so for maximum engagement consider tuning in during mealtimes. The aquarium website also offers free online classes for ages ranging from kindergarten to high school, resources for teachers, and crafts and printables.
Dive into the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s live webcams.
5. Virtual Tour of the Great Wall of China
Your students can trek the Great Wall of China from the comfort of home. For $15, The China Guide offers a guided tour through high resolution images of the Great Wall of China via Zoom. Your students can also take part in question and answer sessions with an expert and have an interactive experience.
Stroll the Great Wall of China.
6. NASA Commercial Crew Program
Until recently, space wasn’t on the list of field trip destinations. NASA decided to teleport students directly to space camp by curating a virtual field trip that highlights its commercial crew program. Teachers can transmit a series of educational videos onto virtual reality sets to create an immersive experience. The tour guide leads virtual visitors through spaceship crew pits and launching pads while explaining the process of becoming an astronaut. The tour puts a heavy emphasis on STEM education and directs teachers to resources useful for supplementary science and math lessons.
Learn more about NASA’s virtual commercial crew program.
7. Disney Parks Digital Tour
Most children dream of the day the teacher announces a field trip to Disney World. While students may not be able to ride teacups or roller coasters during a digital tour of Disney, they can still experience the excitement of the happiest place on earth by touring a high resolution Google Street view of the parks.
Students who have not yet visited Disney can see what the park is like, and those that have visited can point out sites and share stories. You can also include Disney history and lessons on the inspirations behind the attractions to make the tour more educational. Consider serving Disney themed snacks during breaktime, and perhaps initiating a singalong during a music lesson. With the money you save on transportation and admission, you could even hire a beloved Disney character to pay the class a visit.
Learn more about Disney Parks Digital Tour.
8. Streaming Broadway Shows
Instead of escorting your students to a Broadway show, summon a broadway stage to your classroom. Broadway HD has a library of hundreds of productions, including rare and obscure shows. While not in real time, most filmed productions on the site are of live shows. Your students can uncover hard to find productions and learn about American theatre history too. Broadway HD offers a one week free trial, as well as monthly and yearly subscription options.
Watch a Broadway show.
9. Virtual Reality Rainforest Tour
Even if you had the budget to fly your class to the Amazon, a real-life tour would be too risky for a field trip. A virtual tour lets students experience panoramic views of lush rain forests while learning about indigenous communities and conservation efforts. The tour is viewable as an immersive experience via virtual reality devices, or as a 360 degree video on regular devices. By participating in the Under the Canopy tour, students come to understand the importance of the rain forest and its connection to human life as a whole.
Embark on a virtual reality rain forest tour.
10. Computerized Cockpit Tours
Cramming 30-plus students into the cockpit of a plane is no easy task. Yet, virtual field trips can allow students rare experiences like the opportunity to pilot a plane.
Livestream cockpit tours make thrilling virtual field trips for high school students. While airline regulations call for restricted cockpit access, you may be able to find a private pilot willing to give your students a Skype tour of the craft. The pilot might even broadcast a quick flight.
If you cannot find a live guide, then the following organizations provide self-guided tours with pilot-perspective views of various aircraft:
- The Naval Aviation Museum
- Experimental Aircraft Association
- National Museum of the USAF
- Museum of Flight
Or, you could download and run a flight simulator that gives students the chance to navigate and land a virtual plane.
11. Living Rooms Around the World
A living room might seem like an odd choice for a virtual field trip, but a living room located across the globe is as fascinating as any other destination. You can plan a tour of foreign homes so that your students can learn how everyday life differs around the world.
If you know individuals in other countries willing to Zoom with your students, then you can reach out to these acquaintances and coordinate your experience directly. If not, then you can contact a foreign exchange program or local university for help. When all else fails, you can watch the Life Where I’m From channel on YouTube, though live tours with question and answer sessions are more personal and immersive.
You and your students can also check out Dollar Street for a strong visual map of how people live around the world.
12. Virtual Tour of the Louvre
The Louvre is one of the most famous museums in the world, but chances are, many of your students may never get a chance to visit in person. By taking your class on a virtual tour of the Louvre, you save airfare and time spent waiting in line.
The Louvre offers high resolution, 360 degree tours of various exhibitions on its website. Your class can explore Egyptian antiquities, classic Italian paintings, and the remains of an underground moat, all without leaving the classroom.
The Louvre site also directs visitors towards a downloadable “VR Mona Lisa” app that provides an up close peek at the famous painting, and other video and at-home experiences.
Visit the Louvre.
13. Online Tour of the British Museum
The British Museum’s online Museum of the World exhibit lets visitors view and sort artifacts based on time period, area of origin, and themes such as religion or trade. Each point on the timeline contains pictures, descriptions, an audio file, and links to related objects.
This format lends itself well to a virtual scavenger hunt. Solving an activity helps students focus and remain more engaged, which results in students learning more from the experience.
Explore the British Museum.
14. Digital Tour of the Van Gogh Museum
While the digital tour of the Van Gogh Museum fails to capture the paintings’ texture, it does offer contextual information on the artist’s most famous images such as Almond Blossom and Self-portrait With Grey Felt Hat. This tour also provides background information about Van Gogh’s life, with several narrative timelines.
Check out the Van Gogh Museum.
15. Google Meets Visit to the Guggenheim
The Guggenheim offers one of the more interactive virtual museum experiences. Booking a tour gives your class access to a guide for one hour, during which time your class will view three to five famous works and participate in an ongoing Q&A session. The museum educator facilitates activities that encourage students to engage with the art. All tours take place via Zoom or Google Meet.
Though the museum gears most tours towards grade school, they also hold separate online tours for university students and adults as well.
16. Computerized Career Days
Career day is a staple of the school experience. Typically, parents and community professionals visit classrooms to talk to students about various jobs. Through virtual field trips, these professionals can actually take students along on the job. Students can go to work with firefighters, underwater welders, cake decorators, farmers, or any other interesting vocations that do not mind taking the kids along.
Career days can be an ongoing series, with a five to 15-minute tour of a different workplace every session. This approach spreads the fun across a larger span of time by hosting a mini field trip every day, instead of condensing all the excitement into a single afternoon.
You can do online career tests too.
17. Remote City Tours
Tour guides in many cities offer digital field trips that present a verbal history and visual slideshow via virtual meeting software like Zoom and WebEx. Remote city tours are one of the easiest-to-execute virtual field trip ideas. The guides already mapped the path and prepared the presentation; you only need to book the tour and show up with your class.
The crew here at TeamBuilding recently embarked on a virtual tour of Black Broadway in Washington DC and an online Harry Potter tour of Edinburgh, Scotland. Our team thoroughly enjoyed both tours and learned a lot, from the rich history of Black business in DC to which of our colleagues are still waiting for Hogwarts owls.
Learn more about virtual city tours.
18. Online Historical Sites
Many online field trips focus on learning about history. You and your class can visit significant sites all around the world and learn how these locations shaped modern history.
Here is a short list of historical sites with online experiences:
There are many other historically significant locations you can visit through the world wide web.
These online experiences provide your students with culture, history, and travel in one afternoon, all without leaving the classroom. You can pair the activity with a research assignment so that your students form thoughtful questions to ask the guide throughout the tour. If your class embarks on a self-guided tour, then you can always schedule a follow-up interview with an expert so students still get an interactive online encounter.
19. Virtual Adult Beverage Tour
Sometimes adults need field trips, too. Stepping out of the office, home, or just out of the ordinary can shake up routines and recharge creativity. One of the best virtual field trips for adults is an online winery, brewery, or distillery tour.
Here is a list of a few options:
You could also reach out to local venues to inquire about group tours. These businesses tend to be active and reachable on social media, and when all else fails, you can always call the business directly and ask to speak to the owner or event coordinator about the possibility of an online tour.
You could also do an online wine tasting.
When the tour finishes, you can opt for extra team bonding by pivoting into a virtual happy hour.
20. DIY Digital Field Trips
Some schools give students the option to vote on the yearly field trip, letting the majority decide the destination. Since online field trips use minimal time and resources, every student can design a dream trip. Instead of organizing a virtual trip for your students, you can assign the planning to your students. Every classmate can design an itinerary by using Google Tour Creator.
Students may choose to explore areas such as the tombs of pharaohs, or the birth cities of American jazz. Your students will become the tour guides and teach peers about the chosen topic. DIY online tours are great virtual field trips for middle schoolers because the project allows students to express individuality while developing research skills.
Even online, you and your students can embark on an awesome virtual field trip that sparks imaginations and expands world views. Technology allows your classroom to travel to remote parts of the Earth without ever leaving the school.
Most of these virtual field trips are available to anyone, and are free to access, meaning your students can visit or revisit the sites anytime. To make your online field trip day extra special, seek out guide-led, live, interactive experiences so that your students can hold conversations with an expert. You can also supplement the trip with assignments and fun activities.
FAQ: Virtual field trips
Here are some of the most common questions and answers about virtual field trips.
What are virtual field trips?
Virtual field trips are learning excursions that happen online through video conferencing software, livestream video, or digital map and photograph platforms. For example, a virtual zoo tour or an online visit to the Great Wall of China.
What are good virtual field trip ideas?
The best online field trips often revolve around experiences that are off-limits or logistically impossible for in-person visits. To keep students interested, these virtual trips should involve interactive elements such as question and answer sessions, games, and special requests. Good virtual field trip ideas include online behind the scenes zoo visits, virtual museum tours, and remote city tours.
What are the benefits of virtual field trips?
While traditional field trips have tactile aspects and the thrill of escaping the classroom, virtual field trips can allow for insider access to areas like animal enclosures at the zoo, aircraft cockpits, or historical sites. Online field trips can accommodate hundreds of students simultaneously with very few logistics; typically the only requirements for these events is a stable internet connection and video conferencing software. Virtual field trips are often low-cost and very easy to plan. Plus, students can visit a much wider variety of destinations, since there will be no actual traveling.
How do you do a virtual field trip?
The first step in planning virtual field trips is to decide on your venue and activity. You can choose between self-guided tours or live-guided experiences. Typically, live video and interaction makes for a more compelling visit. Most sites offering virtual tours list prices on the website, but you can always reach out to staff to ask for a quote. Once you book your trip, pick a day and time for your visit and inform the students. You can plan tie-in activities like research assignments and presentations to enhance your student’s learning. You can also make the day special by providing snacks, especially if the snacks are theme-appropriate!
How can you make virtual field trips fun?
The best virtual field trips provide insider access. Instead of dwelling on the fact that your students will not visit in person, you should seek out experiences that would be impossible in person, for instance piloting a fighter jet or visiting a family in Mumbai. To hold your student’s attention, you should seek out tours with interactive elements, or at least plan tie-in activities that make the online trip more of an event. You can make the day extra fun by providing a special meal, such as ethnic food to accompany your digital world tour, or a standard pizza party to supplement any trip.
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