araurviving a field trip to the zoo should be a college preparation course for all teaching candidates. Seriously…if you have not yet taken your class to the zoo, and you are about to, this post from the experienced teachers in our Facebook Group is going to SAVE your trip! When you are finished reading, be sure to request to join the group so you can see what everybody’s suggestions were! They were ALL so valuable!
A little story about my first year to the zoo…
I had 33 kindergarteners in my classroom, most of which were English Language Learners. We went to the Phoenix Zoo. Being from Illinois, I was unfamiliar with the layout of the zoo. I managed to swing the majority of the trip because I was quite prepared, and I did my homework. We were having a great time until it was time to leave. Since we weren’t allowed to split up, I had my whole class and about 3 chaperones with me. I didn’t exactly know the way out, and none of the chaperones could figure it out either. I decided to start walking in the direction I *thought* we were supposed to be going. As we were walking, I tried locating someone who worked at the zoo, but we never ended up running into anybody who could help. We ended up walking the wrong direction for about five minutes, and we had no water…and about 3 kids needed to use the restroom. So that five minutes seemed like forever!!! My advice to you would be to familiarize yourself with the area, and get yourself a map right away! As much as I tried to prepare, I STILL struggled. I wish I had access to this advice beforehand from all these teaching pros. So sit back, enjoy, and take some notes for the sake of your sanity!
How to Survive a Field Trip to the Zoo
I always like to give students a purpose so they’re not just running around. Most of my students have been to the zoo for enjoyment with their families so instead of just another visit, I like to tie it directly to our study with a little scavenger hunt sheet (ex. Draw and label a reptile you saw, sketch the habitat of your favorite mammal)….just a few to make it purposeful. I also like to have cameras for students to use! It’s so fun to see the trip from their eyes afterward! 😉 -Amanda from Teaching Madness
Educate on poop, butts and um…mating!!! Seriously or have responses planned!!! -Tessa M.
Give parents a list of the names of the kids they have (no more than 5 per parent-4 is ideal) and write your phone number on the paper. Don’t give yourself a group so you can handle emergencies or behaviors. Ask parents to take lots of pictures and send them to you. You can print them (I use iPhoto) for very cheap. Sunscreen is a must, children carry backpacks so they can carry lunch and water. That way adults can have lunch when their group wants it rather than waiting for the whole group to gather. Teach students not to yell at animals or tap on glass cages, to wait their turn while others are looking at animals. Give incentive tickets to those who are following the expectations that they can turn in for extra recess or another reward when they get back. I don’t usually do a scavenger hunt-I just ask students to pay close attention so they can report on an animal or exhibit when they get back. They might bring a notebook and pencil for this purpose. -Sarah S.
Find the bathrooms first. -John M.
I took second grade to the zoo! If you have approved chaperones , preferably parents you have worked with during the year, please take them! The children got really excited and its normal children run to place to place the extra eyes and hands were so helpful! -Paola D.
When we go, I take as many parent volunteers as I can. In groups, I have all boys or all girls (for bathroom issues). If you have mixed groups, I’d pair a mom group up with a dad group so that one can always bring a kid into the bathroom and one can stay out with the rest of the kids. I give them my cell number and I take their cell number. I keep all allergy kids or kids with health problems with me if their parent is not on the trip with us. I make a list of exhibits to see and have them try to find one or two facts to bring back to the class. I tell the kids that they CANNOT bring money for extra food and PARENTS cannot buy treats for their group (in fairness to the other kids). We have a meeting time for lunch so we can all do head checks. When I box up lunches, I put our group numbers on each box with MY name. I put ot on THE BRIGHTEST fluorescent paper that I can find. Zoos are often packed for field trips and its often hard to find your box. Each parent has a list of their kid’s names, time to meet for lunch and time to get back on bus. I have all my kids in my class wear the same color of tshirt (usually bright orange or yellow) so they can be easily spotted. I NEVER put first or last names on nametags on my kids as strangers could call them by their name and try to trick them. Hmmmm…all parents get band-aids. Parents are told that they NEED to put sunscreen on before we leave. ABSOLUTELY NO parent chaperone can meet us at the zoo or bring their child home from the zoo. (This creates problems if we have to wait for someone or if they leave). NO siblings can come. A zoo is a big, scary field trip, as far as making sure kids stay together and don’t get lost. 100% of focus needs to be on my kids, not on siblings who might need diaper changes, bottle feeding or frequent potty breaks. The zoo scares me with other people’s kids. I become a control freak. Lol! -Sara S. from First Grade Funtastic.
Every teacher needs baby wipes on a field trip! -Bonnie Kathryn from Bonnie Kathryn Teaching
Have your parent groups stay close or have meeting times to check on everyone. -Karin F.
I have a list of my students with their emergency contact number on the back of my badge. You could even highlight names of students with allergies, Epi Pens, ect. I have found this to be useful for many different situations (field trips, fire drills, ect.) -Jeanette S.
Discuss with parents and kids your expectations for gift shop / concessions. For us it is a NO. -Kim L.
2. Get the chaperones’ cell phone numbers.
3. Send the kids and chaperones on a scavenger hunt looking for animals you’ve listed on a paper- reptiles, mammals, birds, etc. -Joan S.
“Have a scavenger hunt so they are focused on learning about animals.” Dawn S.
Another thing I really should have had were more materials to educate my little ones on all the animals before going to the zoo. We did a few activities before hand, but I would have liked them to know the characteristics and a little fact or two about each animal they were going to see. That is why I created my Zoo Animals Printable Unit, which is packed with activities to do before and after visiting the zoo.
So now that you have read through all the fabulous advice from the pros, your zoo experience will be SO much more fun! I would love to see how your trip went, so be sure to send pictures of your activities, or tag me on Instagram! If you liked this post, be sure to share or pin it for your teacher colleagues! If you want to stay updated, be sure to follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Teachers Pay Teachers to keep up with the latest freebies, tips, and ideas.