Virtual Field Trips

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“Today, we are going to George Washington’s house,” I said to a class of first graders. I directed students’ attention to a portrait of George Washington hanging on the library wall. I tell them Washington’s estate, Mount Vernon, is located 700 miles away. Students’ mouths hung open as I explained that they were going to get to go inside Washington’s mansion, walk around his farm, and view the majestic Potomac River. I asked, “Do you know how we are going to get there?” Replies consisted of transportation by means of plane, train, and bus. Finally, I hold up a Chromebook and proclaim, “We are going on a virtual tour of George Washington’s Mount Vernon.” At the word “virtual”, students’ ears perked a little more. They seemed even more excited to being visit Washington’s homestead. It being students’ first virtual tour, they were not quite sure what to expect. Yet, from the look on their faces, they were ready for anything!

CLICK HERE to download the printables!
There are a number of benefits to taking virtual field trips. They are inexpensive (or free); they do not take much time; students learn and apply computer skills; and there are plenty of opportunities for teachable moments. More and more virtual tours are available to students from every grade level. A trip can be a simple photo tour of a museum or a high-tech tour with 360-degree imaging and video segments. Virtual tours give students a chance to explore beyond the classroom walls and into some of Earth’s most iconic places.

My students were eager to begin their virtual tour of George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate in Virginia. At the heart of the tour is a set of beautiful 360-degree panoramic images that users can fully control and view. My students found that engaging the virtual tour was easy. It was a great chance for my early elementary students to use a computer’s trackpad to move left or right and up or down. The Mount Vernon Virtual Tour is also accessible via tablets or smartphones. Students get to view Washington’s ornate ceilings, art, décor, and day-to-day living items.

THIS version has 4 photo frames!

THIS version has 2 photo frames!

Students capture memories with THIS free
virtual tour graphic organizer!
The Mount Vernon Virtual Tour includes a number of clickable points of interest. These clickable points allow viewers to learn more about 18th century life through images and text descriptions that bring topics to life. For an hour, my students were tourists as they wandered around Mount Vernon. I created a graphic organizer for my students to complete that resembles Polaroid photographs. While touring the house and estate, students were to “take” pictures of their favorite moments. Under each image, students wrote a brief description. The activity prompted students to read informational texts and put key ideas in their own words.

I urge you to plan a virtual field trip for your students. You will not have to worry about permission slips or collecting money for lunches. Your students will be glued to their screens as they navigate an interesting place and view its interesting artifacts. Virtual tours open the doors to conducting research, creating presentations, applying critical thinking skills, and building background knowledge. Start by having students explore a destination with this virtual tour graphic organizer. What are you waiting for? The adventures are waiting!

CLICK HERE to download the graphic organizers from the Mister Librarian TpT Store!
Check out these websites for more information about planning a virtual field trip!
Discovery Education Virtual Field Trips
Microsoft Education Virtual Field Trips
Scholastic Virtual Field Trips
Get Outta Class With Virtual Field Trips by Education World
Virtual Field Trip Apps and Websites by Common Sense Education
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