Educational experiences outside the classroom are in your backyard

Free interactive field trips generate unforgettable lessons

08/23/2010  | 
interactive field trips

Daycare counselor Chasity Richardson and her students look on in amazement as they come eye to eye with a snake. The students are not in any danger, they are actually learning about animal science, math, geography and basic animal responsibility at their local PETCO. They’re learning in a way that is unforgettable. By spending the last sixty minutes petting ferrets and watching birds eat their favorite food; these children now understand the responsibility that comes with adopting a pet.

PETCO’s Fur Feathers and Fins program got rave reviews from Chasity, “The field trip enlightens the children about pet responsibility in a resourceful and economical way.” A friend recommended Field Trip Factory (FTF), a unique service dedicated to helping teachers bring lessons to life through free field trips in communities nationwide. For over 17 years, FTF has partnered with local businesses to transform their business place into effective and engaging classrooms.  In addition to developing worthwhile content, FTF handles all of the field trip scheduling to allow educators to book their free trips in less than five minutes. Through their website and customer service center, Field Trip Factory books over 25,000 field trips annually!  Children come home with educational activity sheets, smiles on their faces and fond memories.

Combating the obesity epidemic is no easy task, yet a field trip to the grocery store makes a difference in improving children’s eating habits. On a recent field trip to Lowes Foods, the students skipped past the bakery section and circled around the avocados, one of the many new foods they sampled. Alexis Thomas, the Tour Leader, explained the nutritional value of avocados and fielded questions from the students. Other tour highlights included students learning how to read labels in the cereal aisle and discovering new ways to incorporate physical activities into their everyday lives. These lessons are teaching children to make better, healthier choices. Days later, the class was still talking about healthy choices as they spent the lunch period identifying the fruits, vegetables, grains and meats on their plates.  According to FTF, the discussions continue beyond the classroom, affecting the choices made by the students’ families the next time they find themselves in the cereal aisle.

Lowes Foods has been teaching students through their Be A Smart Shopper! health education program for the past 13 years. “Our community program teaches nutrition and healthy lifestyle behaviors to children who are forming very important habits for their lives.  We are proud to create a hands-on and fun opportunity for children to think about and taste healthful foods that can help them avoid the health risks of obesity,” said Lowes Foods’ Corporate Dietitian, Cindy Silver, MS, RD, LDN.

Teachers are not the only fans of FTF field trips. Hosting A. C. Moore’s Dream it. Create it. Share it. field trip is the highlight of the day for Bunny, the Tour Leader, as she leads children through the aisles teaching them about colors and shapes while tapping into their creative instincts. After the tour, she helps them craft their own dream pages; an exercise that allows the students to bring their dreams to life through art.  Robin Beam, Director of Education for A.C. Moore Arts and Crafts is passionate about the program, “It’s important for A.C. Moore to offer this program to the children in our communities.  With funding for arts programs diminishing in schools, students have no outlet to express or develop their creativity.”

Escaping the confines of the classroom is not always possible when many schools do not have funding for busses. Mrs. Thomareas’s class just took a new field trip in their classroom. The class completed FTF’s newest field trip, Bing! Let’s Go Green! and printed out their Green Certificate for students to bring home and put on the refrigerator.  The field trip consists of five interactive lessons designed to show students how to search the internet, understand their environment and learn about the importance of “living green.”  This innovative field trip divides students into groups to conduct their field research. One team was assigned to the sky and reported on three different species of birds! Concerned with water conservation, another team explored the school’s first floor level in search of leaky faucets and running toilets.

For information, visit or call 800.987.6400.
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