It only takes one disaster on a field trip to make you rethink every future field trip. Every teacher has a story, and mine involved a bus going the wrong way, making a too-fast u-turn in a funeral parlor parking lot and going under an awning that was too low. It skimmed the top of the bus, debris fell into the bus and a new sunroof was born. The funeral parlor owner kindly invited us to wait inside until the police arrived. We politely declined. It’s funny now. It wasn’t that day.
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But I did learn an important lesson. When the police arrived they wanted every child’s name, where they were sitting on the bus, and their addresses. We had all the field trip permission slips for the students, but they were crumpled up and not in order. (Sidenote, the police are not going to help you unload the cooler to find the missing field trip form that got stuck on someone’s go-gurt). You can bet that after that field trip my student information was alphabetically organized, laminated and fastened to a metal ring. One in my bag, one on my lanyard, one on the bus, one in the classroom, one in the office.
My take-away from this event is to over-plan for every field-trip. Imagine that your field trip is going to take place in hurricane conditions on a volcano that is going to erupt at any moment. Plan for that, and you should be OK.
Read on to make sure you have all your bases covered for your next field trips.
What you need to take
- Permission slips, organized in ABC order. Make sure that everything is filled in, and that all medical information is on there. Make triplicate copies and give them to office staff, assistants and leave one on the bus. Trust me on this. Fasten them together.
- Contact information for the person you arranged the field trip with at your destination – make sure you know where you are eating lunch and where the buses can park.
- Map and directions on how to get where you are going (you’d be surprised how many bus drivers will ask you how to get there)
- School phone number, principal’s cell phone, assistant principal’s cell phone, counselor’s cell phone, etc
- Trash bags for lunch waste
- Paper towels to mop up spills
- Wet wipes for sticky hands
- Hand sanitizer
- Disposable gloves
- Ibuprofen (for you and other adults only)
- Your own lunch and water (you will need to hand this over to the student who will swear up and down that they did put their lunch in the cooler, only to find it sitting in her bookbag when you get back to school)
- Information for your chaperones – see below
What your chaperones need to take
- A chaperone information list about the students they are looking after and a brief schedule. This one is editable with schedule times and events, student names and medical information, plus school and teacher cell phone numbers when you join our newsletter. Be sure to download and save the file first and only open with adobe acrobat!
- Spare pencils
- Wet wipes
- Any essential medical items such as epi-pens and inhalers. Make sure the chaperone is comfortable using those items – I always kept my epi-pen students with me
- Mini hand sanitizer
Put everything in a gallon sized ziplock bag and staple your information sheet to the bag.
What your students need to take
Keep it simple. Be sure that you have reminded them and their parents of the following things they need to take a couple of weeks in advance. Every day.
- Lunch/drink/snack if they will need it. I preferred my students to put their lunches in a brown paper bag that so that we could throw everything in the garbage when we finished lunch. Make sure that all lunches are labeled with first and last names. Triple check that they have their lunch otherwise you will be going without.
- Suitable clothing and comfortable shoes. Are flip-flops going to be suitable on the hiking trip in the woods? Is it going to rain, be too hot or too chilly? The less they take, the less they can leave behind, but you still need to make sure that they are clothed properly against the elements.
- Stationery – clipboards/pencils/paper etc
Is there anything I have forgotten that is a total must-have for you? Please drop your ideas below. Wishing you the very best and safest field trips in your future!