Exploring and absorbing the world beyond the classroom are integral components of the Montessori elementary experience. At the start of each year, we discuss going out activities with our elementary students. We discuss our field trip budget and the richness these experiences can provide us. As a group, we brainstorm a list of places we would like to go. The students choose most field trips, but occasionally the directors may choose a field trip or direct their attention to excursions that relate to topics of study or interest.
Planning Going Out Activities in the Montessori Elementary Classroom
Each student is then responsible for collecting information about a destination and reporting back to the class. This may involve a phone call and/or internet research. Encouraging the students to research the information allows them to develop stronger communication, organizational, and practical life skills. It also builds their sense of independence. Beforehand, we discuss respectful phone etiquette and review the information they need to find out:
- Information about presentations or tours offered
- Times available for a visit
- Travel time and transportation options
After the students have reported back to the group, the class votes on the ideas they like the most. It is a very democratic process! We discuss the cost of the activities, what amount we have in our budget, and what we would experience. The students are very careful choosing activities that are meaningful to them and worth ‘their’ field trip money.
We tend to book our trips a little later in the year. This gives the students time to mature and demonstrate appropriate levels of responsibility ahead of time. When a field trip is booked, we may ask an older student to write an email to parents notifying them of our field trip and asking for volunteers. Before the field trip, we discuss how the day will unfold, what we hope to learn, and expectations. Expectations include how the students will behave, what to do if they become separated from the group, and showing courtesy and gratitude throughout the day.
During the outing, our students wear school vests (kindly sewn by a parent volunteer) so that at a glance, we can quickly identify our students in a public place. We encourage the students to show their gratitude and thank the parent volunteers, instructors, and bus drivers. We present them with a thank-you card the students prepare ahead of time.
After the trip, we discuss the field trip as group, focusing on what we learned. The students may also write about the trip in their journals. One or two older students usually write up a short summary of our field trip to add to our monthly school newsletter.
The overall student involvement in planning field trips strengthens their communication and research skills and builds leadership and collaborative strengths.Students take great pride in their choices and show a greater interest and sense of responsibility because of their involvement. They feel like their voice is heard and that they are directly contributing to their educational experience. These practical life events foster independence and resourcefulness and give students important real-life experiences beyond the classroom.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, January 22, 2016.