Are your kids disappointed because a field trip they were really looking forward to has been cancelled due to the coronavirus? Surprise them with a virtual field trip!
If you are thinking a virtual field trip can’t be nearly as fun as visiting a site in person, hang with me just a moment. Technology has evolved so much over the past five years. And many museums and public places have taken advantage of live camera feeds, video, and VR apps to offer virtual tours that are interactive and engaging. Your family can literally visit places all over the world from the comfort of your own home.
Below, you will find a comprehensive list of virtual field trips. There are ideas for all interests and ages. It is incredibly disappointing to land on a website that doesn’t work properly. Or land on a website that is just downright boring. So, I have only included virtual field trips which have quality content and properly working websites.
You will want to create excitement for your virtual field trip. Be sure to let your kids know they are going on an exciting adventure to explore something new. Make it special by planning your virtual field trip just like you would any other field trip.
Tips for Successful Virtual Field Trips
Get Ready for Your Field Trip Adventure
Gather all your supplies and dress for your virtual field trip! Just like you would send your child with all the supplies, and dress them appropriately for a field trip they would attend in person, take the effort to do so with a virtual field trip. Print off any coloring or note pages prior to them beginning their field trip. Read books to get them excited about what they will be learning and exploring. You can even dress the part for your virtual field trip.
Plan Engaging Activities to Extend Learning
Print coloring or note pages for your kids. Or find some fun games and activities to extend their learning. Be sure to include a follow-up project so your kids can show what they have seen and learned. You can have them create a photo project using Canva or have them create a video using Adobe Spark.
Looking to add some more fun to your child’s learning? Here are 10 Video Games that are fun AND educational!
Ultimate Guide to Virtual Field Trips
Let’s Learn About Animals
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens
Join the staff of the Cincinnati Zoo for a Home Safari Facebook Live each day at 3pm EDT. These Live events feature one of the amazing animals from the zoo. You will also get an activity you can do at home. You can get the feel of a full zoo visit by checking out the past safari Facebook Live events which are hosted on the Cincinnati Zoo’s webpage or on their YouTube channel.
The Maritime Aquarium
I love that the Maritime Aquarium is offering FREE Virtual Programs for kids. These programs go beyond a normal field trip. The team at the Maritime Aquarium has taken their most popular educational programs and made them available online LIVE. You’ll find programs for all ages! Be sure to register your child. While waiting for your program, you can view one of their many IMAX movies online. What I love best is all their movies have an Educator’s Guide.
Minnesota DRN Eagle Cam
The Minnesota DRN Non-game Wildlife Program helps preserve and protect thousands of Minnesota wildlife species. The LIVE Eagle Cam is part of their outreach and education program. It is a great way for kids to view nesting eagles and their eaglets. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to view video footage of these cute babies being born.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Polar Bear Live Cam
You might not be able to visit the Ouwehand Zoo in Rehen, Netherlands, but you can view the zoo’s Polar Bear Live Cam and watch their two polar bear cubs, Akiak and Sura, playing under the watchful eye of their mother, Freedom.
San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo has a fabulous website full of videos, an animal fact page, stories, activities, and games. Their website has a kid-friendly layout. Kids can spend hours learning about animals and doing some cool projects.
Seattle Aquarium has an entire page on their website with information, activities, live webcam feeds, animal videos, and virtual field trips as their aquarium has been closed temporarily due to COVID-19. Their YouTube channel has many virtual fieldtrips featuring an underwater diver. Be sure to stop by the activities page. There you will find an extensive collection of coloring pages and other fun activity sheets. You will even find a couple of digital books. You can read them yourself or have the book read to you.
Winged Creatures in 360 Degree Field Trip
Detroit Public TV put together an amazing virtual fieldtrip which takes kids inside three fantastic meto-Detroit locations: Polk Penguin Conservation Center at the Detroit Zoo, the raptor habitat at the Leslie Science & Nature Center in Ann Arbor, and the bat habitat at the Organization for Bat Conservation in Pontiac. I am blown away by the detail and thought that went into the organization and layout of these virtual field trips. Each one uses 360-degree videos and images to give you a unique first-person perspective of animal habitats. It’s like being there in person except there are no lines and you can move at your own pace. What makes this digital field trip so engaging is the hotspots within each 360-degree image. These hotspots open additional resources like podcasts, news articles, videos, and web activities. They included a video to show how to get the most out of your 360 experience. Be sure to watch it before starting.
Let’s Explore the World
Anne Frank House
This 360-degree tour of Anne Frank’s home in Amsterdam gives a complete tour of the Secret Annex where Anne and her family hid from the Nazis during WWII. This sobering virtual tour can be taken with VR glasses for an immersive experience. Or take a virtual stroll through the hiding place where Anne Frank wrote her diary. On your computer, you can also take a look around the house where Anne and her family lived before going into hiding and visit an online exhibition about Anne Frank’s life. The museum’s website has a wealth of information. So be sure to visit it before you leave. You can extend your child’s learning from this virtual field trip by taking advantage of the free digital lesson about Anne Frank and the free digital lesson about the Secret Annex.
The Great Wall of China
Wouldn’t it be perfect if there was one website that contained multiple videos and resources for your virtual fieldtrip? Well, that is exactly what you get with this Great Wall of China virtual fieldtrip by Becky Chatham. Becky did a fantastic job of collecting an assortment of videos perfect for kids!
The Louvre Museum
Traveling to Paris might not be in your budget! Luckily, you do not need your passport to visit the Louvre Museum. Take advantage of the virtual tours to see some of the world’s most famous art, including paintings by Rembrandt.
Nature Lab has 11 virtual field trips which take kids all over the world. Kids can explore the magical páramo ecosystem of Columbia or head over to the Dominican Republic where they will learn the secrets of coral reefs. Each digital field trip comes with a highly engaging video and a teacher’s guide. If you are using some virtual field trips to extend your learning while sheltering at home during the coronavirus, do not overlook the value of downloading the teacher’s guide. There are great questions to ask your child and fun activity suggestions woven in between all the standards and other items which pertain to a class setting.
Let’s Learn About the United States
Beyond the Battlefield
Visit the Museum of the American Revolution where you can take two virtual tours. First take a video tour with host Lauren Tarshis, author of the I Survived series of children’s historical fiction novels. Lauren’s tour of the museum includes a look at some areas of the museum you’d never be able to see on a normal visit. Next, take a walk through the Museum of the American Revolution using the 360-degree virtual tour. This digital tour is loaded with tons of videos, images, and even PDFs you can download to learn as your make your way through the museum. And do not miss the multimedia timeline! It helps put the events leading up to and through the American Revolution in perspective.
Take an interactive 360-degree digital field trip to George Washington’s home in Virginia. This self-guided virtual fieldtrip contains a number of videos and plenty of informative tips. You’ll even see and learn about the Bastille Key from Adam Erby, the curator at Mount Vernon.
National Museum of the United States Air Force
If you want a virtual museum field trip with options, the National Museum of the United States Air Force has them! Start your digital field trip with a 360-degree tour. Next, be sure you viewed everything by watching the museum videos available. And you must absolutely take a cockpit 360 tour. You can do this by downloading the app in either the Apple Play Store or the Google Play Store. If you are a podcast junkie like me, you’ll love the museum audio tour. They have additional podcasts on the page to keep you learning for months! If you want to extend the learning from this field trip, check out the resources for parents and grab some cool activities.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
I have always loved the Smithsonian. The National Museum of Natural History is one of my favorite Smithsonian museums. I love that it is so easy to visit this museum by taking a digital, self-guided trip. Kids have no pressure to move along and can do a room-by-room tour of permanent, current, and past exhibits. Be sure to wander outside to the Butterfly Garden Habitat. There are 3 views. All of them are beautiful. And it is a great field trip on days when your kids are feeling a bit home bound from the coronavirus shelter-in-place mandates. In addition to the virtual field trips, the National Museum of Natural History also offers LIVE video programs for kids and families.
The White House
It might not be possible for you to take a trip to Washington D.C., but you can easily do a virtual tour complete with a tour guide of the White House. A virtual tour will give you a close view of this magnificent building that you would not have with an in-person trip! Worried you will have a limited view when taking a virtual field trip? This White House tour gives a 360-degree view of over a dozen rooms. You can also get a 360-degree guided tour of the Obama White House.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite has a self-guided 360-degree virtual tour on their website. The tour lets you explore over 200 locations within the park. But do not stop there! Be sure to head over to Yosemite Nature Notes. This podcast series, produced by the National Park Service, tells unique stories about Yosemite National Park. You can also find a handy tool to help you explore the species of plants, animals, and birds that you’ll find at Yosemite National Park.
Let’s Explore Space
Have you ever wondered what the surface of Mars looks like? Roam the surface of Mars by moving the rover across it. You will see real images of Mars from data and images collected from the Mars Curiosity Rover. While you are there you can learn more about the Curiosity Mission.
Boeing Aerospace Tour
Join Boeing on a video tour field trip to the Johnson Space Center. This digital tour isn’t as interactive as some of the other virtual fieldtrips on this list, but the video is well done. And, the team at Boeing has put together a companion guide with hands-on activities and questions for students. Used together, the video and guide can be an educational and fun experience for kids.
Narrated 3D tour of the International Space Station
Grab some 3D glasses and get ready for an enchanting view of space with this narrated tour of the International Space Station. The video is just under 15 minutes long, but packs in a nice tour. You can view it without the 3D glasses, but the glasses make it much more fun. And you can use the glasses for other 3D movies.
NASA International Space Station
NASA has video tours from four different space station’s missions. Before leaving your digital field trip, be sure to stop by their NASA STEM section for students. Here you’ll find VR (virtual reality) apps. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program VR 360 Tour is amazing! And VR headsets are reasonably priced. Do your kids love Steam? Be sure to tell them about NASA’s Exoplanet Excursions where they can take VR journeys through the TRAPPIST-1 system of exoplanets and to NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Not all the virtual tours require a virtual reality headset. For instance, you can go inside the NASA Glenn Research Center’s facilities. This tour is self-led and includes many videos along the way.
NASA Langley Research Center
It is no secret that I am a bit of a Katherine Johnson fan. My heart is also tied forever to the Hampton, Virginia area as my husband and I lived in the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area for the first eight years of our marriage while he served in the Navy. So, I was thrilled to find that the Langley Research Center offers virtual fieldtrips. These fieldtrips give you a 360-degree look inside the buildings that make up the research center. They also offer pop-ups with informational images and videos as you take your tour. You can’t finish your day without a photo. So head over to the Apple Play Store or the Google Play Store and download the NASA Selfie App. Using the app, you can create and post some selfies of yourself as a NASA astronaut in outer space and share them with your friends.
Let’s Learn About…
Electricity is made every day inside a power plant. Let’s take a fieldtrip to one and see how electricity is made! This is an interactive video field trip led by two kids.
Farm Food 360
Sometimes your family just needs a little fun. And with many states still under shelter-in-place mandates, families are looking for ways to add some fun and laughter to their days. You cannot go to the amusement parks right now, but you can bring a little bit of amusement park fun into your home. These roller coaster video rides are the most fun if you view them on the largest screen you have in your home. If you have a smart tv, view them on it. If you have smaller children, put them in a box and give them the feel of being inside the roller coaster. You could even set up a projector and screen outside so your kids really have the feel of being at the amusement park. There are many ways your family can be creative and have fun with this!
Does your family have a favorite virtual field trip? Share it with us in the comments below!