If you are in charge of planning field trips for a group of mixed age children, you may be having trouble coming up with ideas that will suit a wide range of kids.
Many groups tend to gear field trips towards younger kids, often leaving the teens and tweens a bit bored.
But there are places you can go and acitvities that you can participate in that tend to excite and include a wide range of age and ability.
Note: Please locate a table of the field trips at the end of this article with a summary of the pros and cons.
Here are some of the activities and field trips that I have seen be successful for mixed age groups in the past.
Many towns and cities have a local candy shop. These local shops tend to have only one shop or chain shops just in the area. They are often known for their chocolates or gift baskets.
Many of these local candy shops offer tours and demonstrations. Some, if there is room, even have classes to teach kids how to make a particular product.
Check for seasonal classes as well such as Valentine's Day, Easter or Christmas candy making.
Our local candy shop has very popular Christmas classes that teach people how to make candy canes.
The one drawback of these types of field trips is a space issue. Many can't accommodate more than a certain number of people at a time so you may need to break your group into smaller subsets and stagger your field trip times.
If you are a homeschool group and can schedule a class during school or working hours, you may find a better price per student or a better choice of time slots.
City Animal Shelter Talk and Tour
Many animal shelters, whether run by the city or privately funded, are more than happy to accommodate groups to both discuss what the group does, how the community can help, and to tour the facility and maybe even play with some of the animals.
Our local shelter had an interesting talk that appealed to all ages and it included information about how to keep yourself from being harmed by an aggressive dog and what to do if you see a stray.
The young kids will learn and enjoy seeing the animals and the older teens may find a volunteer opportunity that could include community service hours.
The only drawback may be if you have people in your group that have animal allergies or sensitivities. They may not be able to attend.
If your town or city has a local theater, you can usually find a schedule of plays that will be presented or will be traveling through during the year. Check the theater's website or their newsletter.
Many times there will be matinee times that are offered for school groups or other groups at a discounted price from a regular admission.
If your group is smaller you may even end up with better seats than some of the bigger groups.
Watching a play can appeal to a wide audience and different levels of understanding and experience can be attained at different ages.
If there are extremely young kids (under 6) this may not work for them just due to the length of time that the student wil need to sit still.
It is also fun to pair seeing a play with an afternoon outing to a park and a picnic lunch.
Nature or Conservation Tour
Many state and national parks have rangers on staff who can present special educational programs and tours for groups. These tours are often free or low-cost and can be a great way to learn about the nature in your local area, conservation efforts and to get out in the outdoors for awhile.
During weekdays state and national parks are often not very busy. You can visit the website for information or call during business hours.
Rangers will ofter be happy to accommodate special interests or focus on one particular aspect of the tour at request.
The only drawback to this kind of activitiy may be if you have group members with physical disablities. But some parks can even accommodate these so be sure to ask.
Surprisingly, one of the biggest hits for a field trip for multiple age groups has been rock climbing. A field trip for a week day, during the middle of the day, was scheduled with a local gym that had a large rock climbing wall and area.
Since the trip was in the middle of the day when the gym does not usually get much business, the field trip leaders were able to negotiate a decent price per student.
Everyone from early elementary through adults had a wonderful time challenging themselves and encouraging their friends.
At the end of the two hour experience the field trip participants were physically exhausted but mentally exhilarated. All ages were declaring that they wanted to come back and do the rock climbing experience again.
The experience proved not to be too difficult for the students. In the indoor rock climbing wall there were padded landing areas, safety harnesses and locking clips.
The only drawback for this field trip might be if your group contains members with physical disabilities. You can talk with the gym about alternatives for those members and to the parents.
Though many Generation X parents grew up with roller skating as a part of their experience, some kids today have rarely experienced this fun sport.
There are still roller rinks and many of them will offer group discounts or even facility rentals during a weekday for a deep discount since they do not usually have many participants during that time anyway.
Another great option is ice skating. There are often local ice rinks that are not very busy during the week or that offer public hours that your group can utilize.
You can contact both the ice and roller rinks for any discounts or package deals such as a voucher for a snack plus skate rental.
This activity also may not accommodate those with physical disabilities.
Water or Waste Treatment Facility
In the modern world, many don't think about where our waste goes. But touring a waste facility can be fascinating, educational, and make your student a more conscious consumer of water and goods.
For waste facilities there are usually three kinds:
- Water Treatment Facilities
- Recycling Facilities
- Garbage Collection Facilities
Each of these offers a different experience for the students and different information. Recycling facilities seem to be the most popular among multiple age groups since many have been raised on the idea of environmental conservation and reusing items.
Most facilities have set days where they offer tours and some may have a minimum age but they are usually free if they are available.
There are many great options for field trips for multiple age groups. Many times different ages can get a surprising amount out of the same experience. So don't discount the student just because he or she is a certain age.
Below is a table of the field trips with the pros and cons of each idea.
Field Trip Pros and Cons for Multiple Age Groups
Learn about making candy and running the business at the shop
May have to break a large group up into smaller units
City Animal Shelter
Learn about how your city handles animal control issues
May not be suitable for group member with allergies
Watch a play for cheaper than an evening performance
May be hard for younger kids to sit still
Nature or Conservation Tour
Learn about local natural resources and conservation efforts
May have limited access for those with physical disabilities
Exercise and challenge yourself and your friends
May need to contact the gym for alternatives for physically disabled group members
Experience roller or ice skating: fun, social and good exercise.
No good alternative for those that are physically disabled
Learn about where waste water, garbage or recycled materials go in your city
May only offer tours on certain days or at certain times.
Victoria Van Ness from Fountain, CO on February 15, 2014:
Oh, I love this!! So often kids are only taught from books and the television. There are so many great places to take children that can teach them a variety of skills and information that they never have been exposed to otherwise.