The power of the Internet has brought amazing options to make and take students on virtual field trips. These are free virtual field trips (with a few exceptions) and provide an engaging way to educate and entertain students of all ages.
Typically we think of these experiences as social studies and science related but they are a great way to complement both fiction and non-fiction texts for all grade levels. They can be integrated into many different activities.
Many of the virtual field trips offer a video tour or walkthrough. There are a few where you can join in at a specific time and see real-time events, such as animal feedings at a zoo. These experiences become interactive when you find ways to connect them with instructional goals.
It’s a way to let kids explore more of the world around them and it also builds background knowledge when your student is able to tour or visit some of these places in person.
Popular and Fun Virtual Places to Visit in the US
Zoos/Aquariums Virtual Tours-
Visit zoos in your home state, or any zoo that you consider to be the best in the US. You can visit more than one zoo and it’s a bonus if they have live webcams where you can drop in on some monkeys, lions or pandas!
Below are some links to zoos or animal related virtual field trips.
Columbus Zoo- Register for virtual learning adventures at the Columbus Zoo. If you can’t catch a live session, there is a link to visit archived demonstrations.
San Diego Zoo– The different experiences at this zoo will include a live tour as well as some surprise wildlife experiences.
Houston Zoo– Live webcams so your students can watch elephants, giraffes, flamingos, and more in real-time.
Zoo Atlanta– With four different experiences geared toward different grades, these virtual field trips are focused on teaching your students.
Dive with Turtles, Swim with Dolphins, or Swim with Jellyfish on Youtube
Farm virtual field trips-
Learning where our food comes from and how it is grown is so important. These farm-based virtual field trips are a great option to help students see a part of their world in a new way!
American Egg Board– Learn all about how egg farms work with videos from various egg farms and their owners.
Bright Farms– This includes a tour of a greenhouse as well as a quiz at the end.
Watching animals in their natural habitat is a great way to learn about how they play, eat, and interact with the environment!
Live Bear Watching Webcam, Transylvania– Watch bears, deer, foxes, and other wild animals in real-time with these live webcams on YouTube.
Decorah Eagles Nest Cam, Iowa– You never know how many eagles you’ll see with these live videos!
Grace Gorillas Forest Cam, Africa– Meet friendly gorillas and watch their every-day lives.
Museum virtual tours-
Museums are a great place to learn more about people, places and events that have shaped our world. Below are some links to museums for virtual visits.
New York City Museum– You can choose from various museum exhibits geared toward grades K-12.
Smithsonian Museum of Natural History– This interactive tour experience allows you to make your way through the museum’s various exhibits, and they even offer narrated tours.
American Museum of Natural History– With teacher’s guides, videos, activities, and more, these virtual field trips include everything you will need to teach your students.
Colonial Williamsburg– These virtual field trips even include a scavenger hunt for your students to go on during the tour!
Wonders of nature virtual tours-
Visit some wonders of nature virtually. A great option to explore amazing places from the comfort of your home!
Carlsbad Caverns– An interactive experience exploring the caverns.
Grand Canyon– Virtual hikes, rafts, guided tours, and even lesson plans and activities can be found here!
Jokulsarlon Glacier and Ice Lagoon, Iceland- A 360-degree VR tour
Popular attractions to visit in the US-
Visit some popular attractions in the US with these virtual tours! These virtual tours offer a fun and engaging experience for students.
Disney World– Travel through the different parks and resorts with ease with this virtual experience.
World of Coke– Two different tours focusing on the STEM side of Coca-Cola creation.
The White House– A virtual tour, including Powerpoint materials to go with it!
Yellowstone National Park– Get to know the park with virtual walks, story maps, and more.
Mount Rushmore– Experience a guided or virtual tour, watch videos, and find lesson plans about this amazing landmark.
Popular virtual field trips around the world-
There are so many awe-inspiring places around the world, and the opportunity to view them virtually is a great way to learn more about interesting places and facts.
Machu Picchu– Visit ancient Inca ruins.
Musee D’orsay– Check out this museum in Paris, France home to famous Impressionist French art from 1848-1914.
Buckingham Palace– View areas of the palace such as the two Drawing Rooms, the Throne Room, and the Grand Staircase.
Google’s Art & Culture– Tour famous sites and landmarks anywhere from a local museum to Mars!
Taj Mahal, India– Panorama images to explore this amazing landmark.
Mount Everest, Nepal– 3D Map
Temples of Angkor, Cambodia– A recreation of Angkor that is built as an immersive student experience.
International Space Station– Take a virtual tour or watch videos about the Station and how astronauts are trained. Learn about NASA’s curiosity rover and much more!
How do you make virtual field trips into instructional experiences?
After experiencing all that these amazing virtual field trips have to offer, don’t let the opportunity to learn stop there! You can take any of these virtual field trips and turn them into deeper, instructional experiences. You could explore them for a Fun Friday activity and add some fun extension activities such as having some coke & M&Ms during the World of Coke tour and M&M tour!
For example, you could have younger students draw about what they toured and older students could write about what they saw or learned. For older students, this could turn into a research paper on any of the field trips that hold historical value. You could also ask them questions about what they saw or learned and prompt them to think about their experience in an active way, rather than simply viewing it for fun. Or, to really engage your students, have them draw a picture, create a craft, give you a presentation, or even have a scavenger hunt during the virtual field trip. There are so many great options to take a passive experience like a virtual field trip and turn it into a time of active learning!