Plan a Trip to the Zoo

Field trips are an exciting way to take education outside the classroom and expose your students to the natural world in a realistic setting. However, field trips, especially those with younger children, require planning to ensure everyone’s safety, that children have an enjoyable time, and that parents feel at ease.

Permission Slips

After deciding when your trip will take place, you can make an announcement via the Bounce app and create an event in the calendar for parents to view. The next step is obtaining permission from the children’s parents. Permission slips are a must before taking children out of school on a field trip.

Your permission slip should include the trip’s place, date, and time. It should also include essential information for the parents, such as whether or not they need to pack a lunch, the cost (if the school is not covering costs), appropriate attire, and how children will be getting to and from the zoo. If parents are contributing towards the cost, you can use the Bounce app to send an invoice with a payment link. 

The school must also have a plan for children whose parents do not permit them to attend the trip. These children can visit another classroom for the day, be helpers in the office, or, if there are enough children, assign an extra teacher to be with them while the class is away. 

Emergency Preparedness

Teachers should carry an emergency bag or bags on all field trips with emergency contact information for each student, snacks, water, a first aid kit, and any prescription medications children require in their classroom. 

Teachers should also have a camera or cell phone to take pictures of the children enjoying the trip so parents can share the experience. They can immediately post and tag parents to view how their child is enjoying the zoo. 

Other items to include:

  • Sunscreen
  • A few changes of clothes in case of accidents or spills
  • Diapers and wipes if children aren’t potty trained
  • Hand sanitizer or foaming soap
  • Paper towels or tissues
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Cell phone
  • Paper and pen

You should also have a backup plan in case the trip needs to be canceled or postponed due to weather and how you will handle emergency weather situations should one occur. 

Safety Measures

In addition to having fun, keeping the children safe is the most important thing on a field trip. Recommended safety measures include:

  • Matching brightly colored vests or t-shirts
  • Regular head counts every 5-10 minutes
  • A safety rope that the children can hold onto while walking
  • Name tags with emergency phone number
  • Including extra teacher or parent chaperones

Transportation

Transportation must be coordinated ahead of time and meet the required safety measures for the children traveling. You will need to know safety restraint/harness requirements for the ages of the children in your group.

Parents must also sign off on the permission slip that they are OK with their child traveling via the arranged transportation method. 

Pre-Trip Prep with Kids

Field trips are exciting for children, so it is essential to lead up to the trip by covering expectations and safety measures and to learn about the animals you might see while on your trip.

Teachers can read books about different animals and zoos beforehand and work with the children to develop a list of discovery questions to answer while visiting the zoo. 

You can ask children in your class to share previous experiences at zoos and create play areas focused on animals and the zoo beforehand. For example, create a veterinary-themed dramatic play, add additional animals to the block and building center, add animal stickers, stamps, or patterned paper in the art area, and create an animal-themed sensory bin. 

Planning a zoo field trip may seem overwhelming, especially if this is your first time. However, with some preparation, planning a fun and educational outing is easy with some preparation.