Field trip planning
The most critical component of a successful field trip is a clear plan for what you what to accomplish during the day. Make sure to plan accordingly for these items before the day arrives.
Visit the location first
Determine staffing for the day
Create plans for "what ifs"
Set expectations with children
Clearly communicate plans to families
Field Trip Checklist
Meals and snacks
Keep hot food hot (140 degrees and above) and cold food cold (41 degrees or below).
- Chill or heat food appropriately before leaving.
- Use cold packs or ice in insulated coolers, or use storage that plugs in to your car or bus.
Minimize hot/cold food.
- If you don’t want the hassle of cold packs or insulated coolers, consider purchasing just those items to be delivered to your field trip location.
- Purchasing milk in shelf-stable packaging that does not require refrigeration.
Consider carefully what to keep and what to toss.
- Discard questionable food from the field trip as soon as possible to avoid confusion about what is still “good” afterwards.
- Ensure your storage options (ice, coolers) are replenished after you eat to keep leftovers fresh for the trip home.
Try these tips to make your mealtime go more smoothly:
- Set up a production line for packing field trip meals.
- Buy pre-packaged foods or place them in sealable, individual serving containers. Not only does this help with contamination, but it creates less squabble about who got more!
- Place a set number of bag meals in transport containers and mark the containers with the number of meals.
- Keep a separate container with meals for those with dietary restrictions and label accordingly.
If you participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), consider the following to ensure you are still meeting requirements:
- Prepare all food at your child care program.
- Sack lunches and field trip snacks still need to meet the meal pattern requirements for family child care homes or centers/ministries/Head Start.
- Keep track of how many meals are distributed and when. Example form.
Whether you are walking from your child care location, taking children on a bus, or carpooling, keep in mind these important items.
Ensure you have a car seat for each child and that each seat is secured appropriately.
The safest place for all children is to ride in the back seat. Never place a child in a rear-facing car seat in the front seat or where there is an air bag.
Never leave a child unattended, even when secured in a car seat. Visually supervise children at all times.
Do a physical check of the entire vehicle after all children have exited, to ensure no child is left behind.
Count and directly supervise all children, especially when loading and unloading. Ensure supervising adults have an accurate roster of all children in their charge in order to do frequent face-to-name checks.
Learn more about vehicle safety from these experts
Field Trip Chaperones
One of the best ways to encourage family engagement is to include parents as chaperones on field trips. Be mindful about:
- Recruiting – start early and be clear about expectations.
- Choosing chaperones – determine if you need to make a “cut” and then consider parent qualities carefully.
- Assigning groups – make sure to pair the chaperone with their own child and assign children that fit best with the chaperone’s style and abilities.
- Communication – ensure that you communicate early and often with those you have chosen to chaperone. Be clear about dress, schedules, directions, contact information, and anything else important to know for the day.
- Appreciation – thank your chaperones, whether verbally or with written letters from the children.
Douglas, Jon. “Be on the Safe Side: Field Trip and Transportation Safety.” NC DHHS: Division of Child Development and Early Education. NC DHHS: Division of Child Development and Early Education, January 10, 2020. https://ncchildcare.ncdhhs.gov/Whats-New/be-on-the-safe-side-field-trip-and-transportation-safety.
Ferlazzo, Larry. “Response: ‘Field Trips Are Powerful Learning Experiences’ (Opinion).” Education Week. Education Week, March 5, 2021. https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/opinion-response-field-trips-are-powerful-learning-experiences/2016/12.
“Moving Kids Safely in Child Care … – Childcareexchange.com.” Accessed April 8, 2022. https://www.childcareexchange.com/library/5017325.pdf.
“June 2021 Newsletter – Summer Safety: Keeping Children Safe on Walks and Field Trips.” CCEI, June 2, 2021. https://www.cceionline.com/june-2021-newsletter-summer-safety-keeping-children-safe-on-walks-and-field-trips/.
“Accurate Meal Counting – Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.” Accessed May 3, 2022. https://dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/community-nutrition/pdf/Accurate_Meal_Counting.pdf.