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How to plan a successful field trip

Field trip tricks and tips


With a few simple steps and a little planning ahead your preschool field trip can be a joy and not a pain.  By following these simple tricks and tips you can save yourself from needless stress.  I have taken my classes on dozens of field trips and have accompanied my own children on dozens more.  The tips below were gleaned from my successes and failures on these outings.  Everything I have learned can be boiled down into 3 easy to remember steps: Planning, Preparation, and Performance.


It may seem basic but you need to have a written game plan.  By committing your plan to writing you can easily review the steps to see if anything has been overlooked.  You can also have another teacher review your plans for extra peace of mind.  At the end of this article I have included a free printable form for you to get started. 

For a successful trip I have found that you need around 3 to 4 weeks lead time to arrange everything and not feel rushed.  Some parents will need at least two weeks’ notice to arrange for the time off work or to alter their personal schedules.  This will also give you plenty of time to work out the details with the location you will visit.

You will, of course, call ahead to the facility you plan on visiting.  What you discuss in the phone call can make the difference between success and failure.  Don’t be shy about calling more than once if you have questions or concerns.  Even if you have all the details in your first call you will want to make one more call in the days just before the field trip to confirm that nothing has changed.  Some vital topics to discuss:

·         Costs for both children and parents and what is included for that price (lunch, souvenir, etc.).

·         Parking arrangements.  Know where you can park your bus/van/cars and if there is a cost.  Some facilities may have on-street parking only or will make use of a local parking ramp.  Be sure you know before you go.

·         Eating facilities.  If you will be there for lunch make sure you know when and where you can eat.

·         Weather.  If there is inclement weather will plans change in any way?


Once all your plans have been made it’s time to start preparing.  The first thing you should prepare for is safety.  Make sure you have at least one amply stocked first aid kit.  Some things to include in your kit:

·         Bandages

·         Gloves

·         Gauze

·         Tissues

·         Baby wipes/moist towelettes

·         Info cards for each child.  These cards should have a list of the child’s emergency contacts, allergies, medications, etc.

·         Master list of names of the students and parents on the trip as well as any cell numbers that may be needed.

It will go easier for you if you have other adults (teachers, aides, parents) to accompany you.  Finding the right ratio will be crucial.  I have found a ratio of 1 adult to every 3 or 4 kids to be ideal.  If you have any special needs or challenging children you may need to lower the ratio on a case by case basis (even down to 1 on 1 for real stinkers J).  Make sure during your preparations that the parents know all the rules and expectations that you have for them and the children.  A written agenda will go a long way in helping them to assist you better.

In the weeks leading up to the field trip be sure to begin preparing the children for what to expect.  Read plenty of books relating to the excursion.  Help them formulate questions to ask during the trip. (This can help to prevent the random, awkward, off topic questions that kids sometimes ask)  Help guide their expectations and build their anticipation by having plenty of open discussion about the outing.  They may think of things you never considered or view the topic in an unexpected way.  As you know kids see the world in wonderful, different ways.

During your preparations take time to compile resources for each of the adults that will accompany you:

·         Phone lists

·         Maps of driving route

·         Maps of the facility (if available)

·         Rules and expectations

·         Agenda/schedule

At least one week before the trip collect all the money and/or permission slips and have a confirmed count of which parents will be attending.  Once you have this information send out a reminder to all those who will be attending.  Know that some parents will run late on the day of the trip so build some leeway into your start time.  I suggest setting a deadline of at least one half hour before departure to account for tardy chaperones. 


As the adults arrive on the day of the trip hand them the packet which you prepared for them.  If you will not be all together in one location during the field trip be sure to designate a meeting location and specify the time that everyone is to be there.  Verbally detail all of the rules and expectations of the trip and answer any questions and concerns that the parents have.

As you begin to assign groups of kids with parents try to keep in mind your target ratios while maintaining a balance between the parent’s abilities and the children’s temperaments.  Make certain that every adult is comfortable with his or her assignment and that they know the agreed upon protocol for given situations that may arise (lost child, bathroom accident, illness, etc.). 

Just prior to departure make sure all children have used the bathroom so that when you get to your destination everyone will be ready to go.  As the children board the bus perform your initial count and check it against your master list.  Once you have resolved any discrepancies between the count and your master list board the bus and verify the numbers a second time.  You will want to perform the same double count method just prior to departing the facility.

Benjamin Franklin once said: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”  By following these time-tested methods you can rest assured that you’ve given yourself and your pupils the best chance for a fun-filled adventure at your destination.  With careful planning and preparation you can minimize the chance that things will go awry.  In the event that an issue arises you will be prepared and not panicked. 

Have a fun trip!

Click this link to download your FREE field trip checklist.