At Teach One Reach One Ministries, we are big fans of taking young Bible students on field trips. Field trips not only enhance learning and understanding of scripture, but also provide great opportunities for building relationships and mentoring. Unfortunately, if field trips are missing some key elements, money and time may be spent with no real educational value added.
Including these five elements will increase the amount of educational value in any Bible class field trip.
- Provide background information to students before the trip. What will they see? What are your learning goals for them? What do you want them to look for while they are there? If there is any background information they need to make the experience more understandable, having it before they go helps. For example, if you know they will see an idol of Baal in the museum, reviewing stories in the Bible mentioning Baal and explaining the difference between idols and God can make actually seeing the idol more meaningful.
- Decide on who will provide teaching onsite and provide learning objectives to them. Some field trip locations offer to provide guides. Knowing your learning goals are not entirely secular can help them include the information you want the students to learn. Some places may not wish to address ties to the Bible in their presentations. In those cases, you will need to teach the information yourself or ask someone else from your congregation to take that role.
- Decide what you want your Bible students to see or experience. I usually like to visit the field trip site myself before taking students. It takes extra time and effort, but it is worth it. Having a map of the exact places you want students to go can keep you from wasting time on things that aren’t of interest and/or that don’t help further your goals for the trip.
- Prepare a list of questions and talking points for chaperones and/or students. Over the years, I have watched many adults chaperone field trips. Some are great, but most venture so far from what the teacher hoped to accomplish, the experience is wasted. Not to mention, that some even make things up when they don’t know an answer and give the students inaccurate information. Providing questions, answers and key talking points to chaperones makes it more likely that your field trip will accomplish your learning goals. You may also want to provide a scavenger hunt page of sorts that students can use to search for information during the field trip.
- Have a reflection activity at the end of or after the field trip. Encouraging students to reflect on the experience also gives you an opportunity to answer student questions and clear up any misunderstandings. Don’t forget to discuss the next steps you want them to take based on their experience. Consider encouraging them to create a reflection piece that shows what they learned. Allow them to be as creative as they would like to be. Consider providing a list of scriptures, books or other resources they can use if they want to continue learning about the topics covered during your field trip.
Taking a little extra time to prepare can mean the difference in whether or not your field trip is meaningful and enhances learning. Try adding the elements above to your next field trip experience and see what happens.