There’s no enthusiasm quite like third grade enthusiasm. Third graders are up for just about anything, especially projects and hands-on activities. So harness that exuberance for new learning and challenges with one of these exciting third grade field trips, selected with third grade curriculum (and third graders themselves) in mind.
Not all of these trips will be possible everywhere, but keep in mind any local treasures that are unique to your area. And when you can’t manage a trip—for whatever reason—try the virtual third grade field trips below.
In-Person Third Grade Field Trips
1. A Newspaper Headquarters
A visit to the local newspaper is a great way for third graders to see the writing process in action—all the way from idea to publication. Beyond the newsroom, there’s also the design process and the press itself.
2. Science or Natural History Museum
A third grader might feel a little old for a children’s museum, but a natural history museum with its old bones and other exhibits could be just the right fit. Science centers often have fun and engaging exhibits that are ideal for 8- and 9-year-olds. (If Grossology ever comes to your area, take your class to the exhibit!)
Since third grade science instruction often involves plants, a greenhouse is a natural choice for a field trip. Ideally, kids will be able to plant seeds and/or harvest produce!
No one is going to say no to visiting a chocolate or candy factory, but third graders may be ready for something bigger. Try a visit to an automobile factory to round out that unit on motion and design.
5. Recycling Center
I can’t be the only one who’s taken third graders to the dump. But trash is actually a great third grade unit of study. And a trip to the recycling center will teach kids valuable information about waste reduction.
6. Military Base
Most military installations are open to public visits. Many even have regularly scheduled tours as well as their own on-site military museums. There’s a lot of variety, depending on the branch. Our favorite? A cavalry detachment’s horse show.
7. Geographical Feature
Whatever your location, you likely have a landform (for example: mountain, canyon, cave, butte) or body of water (ocean, river, pond, wetland) that you can visit to show your third graders the rock or water cycle in action.
8. IMAX Theater
This isn’t any old movie theater, and you won’t be taking them to see Pixar’s latest release. But the IMAX experience is something else, and a nature documentary on an enormous screen is spot-on for third grade.
9. Concert Hall
Many third graders have never been to a live music performance, so take them to a philharmonic orchestra concert to teach concert etiquette and an appreciation for classical music.
10. Nature Center
A nature center is the perfect place for kids to learn about local plants and wildlife. Activities vary by location but might include a nature hike or live animal presentation. Bring those magnifying glasses!
Virtual Third Grade Field Trips
1. Amazon Robotics Fulfillment Center Tour
Ever wonder how Amazon delivers packages at lightning speed? Take your third graders on a 45-minute behind-the-scenes tour of an Amazon fulfillment center to see how computer science, engineering, and real people work together to make the magic happen. During this interactive virtual field trip, students meet Amazon engineers who explain concepts like algorithms and machine learning. It’s aligned to NGSS, CSTA, and ISTE standards, and there’s also a Teacher Toolkit that includes a facilitation guide plus student worksheets, certificates, and extension learning opportunities. (Hint: If you like this virtual field trip, look for the release of more Amazon Future Engineer Tech Tours. The next one, Space Tour, will be available in October 2022.)
2. Slime in Space
Nickelodeon teamed up with two astronauts on the International Space Station to demonstrate how slime reacts to microgravity and had kids reproduce those same demonstrations back here on Earth. It makes for an amazing 15-minute virtual field trip!
Through Stellarium Web, kids can explore over 60,000 stars, locate planets, and watch sunrises and solar eclipses. If you enter your location, you can see all the constellations that are visible in the night sky in your corner of the world.
The U.S. Geological Survey monitors volcanoes in the United States. Their interactive map allows you to learn about any volcano in the country.
5. Nature Lab
The Nature Conservancy offers 11 virtual field trips. For example, students can explore a coastal rain forest in a virtual canoe or unlock the secrets of coral reefs in the Dominican Republic. Each video is about 45 minutes long.
6. Yellowstone National Park
The first established national park and a popular vacation destination is now accessible to virtual travelers. The interactive maps are a great way to see the Mammoth Hot Springs and Mud Volcano, but we think kids will be psyched about the Old Faithful Geyser livestream.
7. The Great Lakes
This virtual field trip from Great Lakes Now has three components: coastal wetlands, algae, and lake sturgeon. Each video is a quick five minutes.
8. The Smithsonian
The National Museum of Natural History’s virtual experiences are self-guided, room-by-room tours of permanent, current, and past exhibits. Be sure to send kids to the second floor Bone Hall so they can take a look at all different kinds of skeletons.
9. Son Doong Cave
National Geographic lets you explore the world’s largest cave, located in Vietnam. Use the interactive map to enjoy the fully immersive experience (sound on!).
10. Ellis Island
Discussing ancestry or immigration into the United States? Take a tour of Ellis Island with this interactive map!
11. The National Aquarium
Take a 3D tour of the aquarium and check out animals you’ll find at this awesome site.
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Plus, check out 50+ tips, tricks, and ideas for teaching 3rd grade.