Explore the World from Home
Virtual field trips allow children to visit places around the world without ever leaving their homes! Through virtual field trips, your kids can visit other states, countries across the globe, and even other planets. This allows children to experience places they wouldn’t get to see otherwise. Here are several free resources your family can use to take virtual field trips – enjoy!
Free Virtual Field Trip Printables
These printables provide a way for your children to record what they’ve learned on their virtual field trips.
1. Online Zoo (Behind the Scenes)
A digital zoo tour is one of the best virtual field trips for kids. While virtual trips may not let students see otters float, elephants play, and lions strut up close, a digital tour allows for more intimate behind-the-scenes access.
Your class can get close with the animals and walk paths usually reserved for zookeepers. While you may not be able to fit 30 squirming first graders into a baby animal nursery or an operating room, the guide can easily broadcast from these venues. Best of all, since the visit takes place entirely online, you can visit a zoo that is otherwise far from you.
Here is a starter list:
- The Maryland Zoo
- San Antonio Zoo
- Cincinnati Zoo (self-guided tours, livestream safari and feeding times)
Many other zoos stream live animal webcams that you and your class can watch. You can also contact your local zoo directly to inquire about facilitated virtual tours and school group discounts.
During the online visit, your students can ask questions using the hand raising or chat features in the video conferencing platform. Once your tour concludes, your students can enjoy thematic snacks such as zebra cakes, goldfish, and of course, animal crackers.
2. Virtual Safari
When you do a virtual safari, your students can observe lions, elephants and other animals in their natural habitat. Wild Earth offers twice daily live safaris. Since the broadcast occurs on African time, your best bet is to tune in for the sunset safari, which live streams during 9:00am – 12:30pm Eastern Standard Time. The safari broadcasts from several nature reserves and features animals, such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, and hyenas. During the tour, viewers can ask park rangers questions. The unscripted nature of the broadcast lends an element of excitement, since animal sightings are always a surprise.
3. Under the Sea Visit
Unless you are secretly Miss Frizzle from The Magic Schoolbus, you cannot whisk your class to the bottom of the ocean in a submarine. However, you can lead your students on an online field trip of the ocean.
The Deep Sea by Neal Agarwal shows all sorts of marine life in the ocean. Viewers can scroll deeper into the ocean, discovering the animals that dwell at each depth. For a fun pre-tour exercise, distribute a handout with the names of various species and challenge students to guess at which depth the creature lives. Then, check answers as you plunge further down into the ocean.
4. Aquarium Webcam Livestream
The Monterey Bay Aquarium hosts live cams for animals, including sea otters, penguins, jellyfish, and sharks. Aquarium employees narrate during feeding time, so for maximum engagement consider tuning in during mealtimes. The aquarium website also offers free online classes for ages ranging from kindergarten to high school, resources for teachers, and crafts and printables.
5. Virtual Tour of the Great Wall of China
Your students can trek the Great Wall of China from the comfort of home. For $15, The China Guide offers a guided tour through high resolution images of the Great Wall of China via Zoom. Your students can also take part in question and answer sessions with an expert and have an interactive experience.
6. NASA Commercial Crew Program
Until recently, space wasn’t on the list of field trip destinations. NASA decided to teleport students directly to space camp by curating a virtual field trip that highlights its commercial crew program. Teachers can transmit a series of educational videos onto virtual reality sets to create an immersive experience. The tour guide leads virtual visitors through spaceship crew pits and launching pads while explaining the process of becoming an astronaut. The tour puts a heavy emphasis on STEM education and directs teachers to resources useful for supplementary science and math lessons.
7. Disney Parks Digital Tour
Most children dream of the day the teacher announces a field trip to Disney World. While students may not be able to ride teacups or roller coasters during a digital tour of Disney, they can still experience the excitement of the happiest place on earth by touring a high resolution Google Street view of the parks.
Students who have not yet visited Disney can see what the park is like, and those that have visited can point out sites and share stories.
8. Computerized Cockpit Tours
Cramming 30-plus students into the cockpit of a plane is no easy task. Yet, virtual field trips can allow students rare experiences like the opportunity to pilot a plane.
Livestream cockpit tours make thrilling virtual field trips for high school students. While airline regulations call for restricted cockpit access, you may be able to find a private pilot willing to give your students a Skype tour of the craft. The pilot might even broadcast a quick flight.
If you cannot find a live guide, then the following organizations provide self-guided tours with pilot-perspective views of various aircraft:
- The Naval Aviation Museum
- Experimental Aircraft Association
- National Museum of the USAF
- Museum of Flight
9. Best Virtual Tour for Car Lovers: Lane Motor Museum
Scroll to the bottom of the link to watch a fun virtual tour of one of the most unique car museums in the world. Lane Motor Museum is home to an oddball collection of vehicles dating from the 1920s up to modern times.
Your child will love seeing amphibious vehicles, microcars, prototypes, and more. The tour is easy to click through and offers six angles to entertain viewers.
10. Best Tour of the White House: Google Arts & Culture’s The White House
Every President since John Adams has occupied the White House and now your children can visit it, too. Google Arts & Culture offers four museum views (three tours of The White House and one of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building) plus a look at more than 140 paintings that grace (or have graced) the walls of the country’s most famous abode. The 360-degree images let kids explore to their heart’s desire.
11. Best Tours of Nature: Nature Works Everywhere
Explore nature around the world with Nature Works Everywhere’s virtual tours. Visit the coral reefs of Palau, the deserts and grasslands of Africa, a rainforest (from a canoe’s viewpoint), a renewable energy plant, and more.
The tours are narrated and give great, quick facts to help kids learn in simple, straightforward ways. All tours are appropriate for grades 3 through 12 but are marked with notes about the grades most likely to enjoy the tour.
Ellis Island is a key piece of American history. This virtual tour offers lots of anecdotes and features actual guides from Ellis Island telling stories. Plus, it includes lots of pictures and views of the island.
It’s more appropriate for fourth grade and up, mainly due to the litany of facts and complexity of the information provided.
13. e-Based Virtual Tour: Slime in Space
What happens to Nickelodeon’s iconic slime when it’s in space? That’s the concept behind the Slime in Space virtual field trip. Featuring real astronauts and Nickelodeon celebrities, the 15-minute video shows kids how slime and water react in a microgravity environment 250 miles above the Earth. Along the way, it answers burning questions like, “Is slime a solid or a liquid?” and “Can you slime a person in space?” (The answer is: yes, very slowly.)
The San Diego Zoo is home to more than 3,500 animals of more than 650 species and subspecies. It’s widely considered one of the best zoos in the world. But, if you can’t make it to California, it has a robust virtual experience online.
You can peek in on the animals through live cams. There’s also a variety of videos that teach kids about vultures or show them how to draw a tiger, for example. There are also zoo-related games and activities kids can do at home.
15. Best Children’s Museum Tour: Boston Children’s Museum
Using Google Maps, you can take your kids on a virtual walk through the Boston Children’s Museum. Explore all three floors and tour exhibits like the Construction Zone and Kid Power. You can’t interact with the exhibits in a virtual tour, and the site lacks supplemental information to go with Google Maps. But it’s a beautiful museum and worthy of a look.
16. Best Art-Centric Virtual Tour: The Met
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is home to over 5,000 years of art from around the world. You can see some of it from the comfort of your home. Take a virtual stroll through part of the museum using Google Street View. There are also numerous online exhibits on topics like Coco Chanel, Vermeer, Catholic allegory in art, and more.
17. Best Cave Virtual Tour: Son Doong Cave
Son Doong is the world’s largest natural cave. Located in Vietnam, it features a subterranean river and the largest cross-section of any cave worldwide. National Geographic’s virtual tour lets you explore the cave with full 360-degree views and immersive sounds. You can even zoom in one area to check out the campers in their tents. Son Doong is beautiful and worth a virtual visit.
18. Best Factory Virtual Tour: M&M Factory Tour
The Food Network teamed up with candy maker Mars to give M&M fans a virtual tour of one of its factories. During the short YouTube video, viewers can pan around as a tour guide explains how unrefined chocolate is turned into the little candies we know and love.