Monday, March 22, 2010

Virtual Field Trips: A New Approach to Montessori Going Out Activities

NAMC montessori going out activities virtual field trips the louvre
In a survey conducted by the American Montessori Society (January 2010), 89% of Montessorians said that it is acceptable for students to use the Internet in the Montessori elementary classroom. When asked, many of NAMC’s students agree as well. Most of the time, people talk about using computers to learn keyboarding skills or to enhance research. But what if I told you computers can be used to take children to places they would normally be unable to explore due to geographical or fiscal restraints? I’m talking about using the computer and internet for virtual and interactive field trips.

We have compiled a huge list of Virtual Field Trips for your Montessori classroom, as well as a guide on how to properly integrate them into your lessons.

Virtual Field Trips: A New Approach to Montessori Going Out Activities

Virtual Field Trips

Virtual field trips (VFTs) use the Internet as a means of guided exploration. Sometimes called, Electronic field trips (EFTs), e-trips or Web Tours, VFTs are organized by pre-screened and thematically-based web pages that are tailored to fit the interests and learning objectives of students. Using both text and multi-media, VFTs provide a “real-life” and real-time experience for students. Best of all…they are free!
Others have interactive real-time video conferencing where students can interact and ask questions of people all over the world.

How many times, after telling the First Great Lesson, have your students wanted to know more about volcanoes? Sadly, many of us aren't able to go visit a real volcano. The volcano shelf materials are great learning tools, but imagine, after students have learned all they can about volcanoes from the material, being able to explore them up close?
Virtual field trips not limited to planet earth.
Of course, planet earth has plenty of exciting sights.
The possibilities are endless!

Integrating Virtual Field Trips

Virtual field trips are not meant to replace the Montessori curriculum and materials. Rather, they are meant to enhance the curriculum just as “going-out” trips do. It’s a way to expose students to the world they are unable to explore otherwise.
NAMC montessori going out activities virtual field trips children on computer
There are several ways to integrate virtual field trips into your Montessori curriculum.
  • Trip planning. Students can use VFTs to plan their own trips outside the classroom environment.
  • Preparation. Prior to actual class trips, use a virtual field trip before going outside the classroom to prepare your Montessori students ahead of time to allow them to explore particular goals, interests, or objectives for the trip.
  • Post-trip follow up. After a class trip for further exploration.
  • In place of a class trip.
  • Student-created VFTs. Students can gather research and create their own VFT to share with their classmates and families. A great website on how to create a VFT can be found here:
There are many virtual field trips on the Internet. I do strongly suggest thoroughly previewing any Internet content before allowing students to view it to make sure the content is appropriate. I hope you take the time to explore the exciting world of virtual field trips. I’m certain you and your Montessori elementary students will enjoy this exciting adventure.
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Monday, March 22, 2010.


  1. Love this idea, Michelle! Great links, too. My daughter is always asking to go to Paris so today I will tell her that we can - virtually!

  2. My son and I shared the same Paris trip while I was writing this. He is really excited about studying French in high school and is already planning our trip!

    Technology done right, is such a powerful learning tool for kids. And, since we’re following the child’s interest and allowing him or her to explore on his or her own by providing him with good, solid resources I really see it enhancing the Montessori curriculum.

  3. I have stumbled upon Google earth in my research for the first great lesson this year, it is amazing as you can type in wherever you want to go in the cosmos - we looked at Betelgeuse as we were exploring the life-cycle of a star!!! Definitely not within our budget to go there, so the look on the students faces at the opportunity to see it up close?! Priceless!

  4. Hi Angie! Google Earth is a great resource. Children really love using to explore their own communities and beyond. I didn't realize, though, you could expand out into the cosmos. What a great tool to use in the Montessori classroom when discussing the First Great Lesson and astronomy.


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