Looking for field trip ideas to enjoy this year? Whether your child goes to school with extra support at home or is homeschooled, field trips are a wonderful complement to any curriculum. Going outside of the home to have different kinds of experiences, opens up your child’s world and gives him or her a variety of new learning opportunities. Take a look at our virtual field trip ideas as well.
I have created this post with parents and grandparents in mind who would like to get out with their kids (and grandkids) and have a fun and educational day. Of course, this article is perfect for autism teachers too looking for fun field trip ideas for a special needs class.
I recommend giving your child a specific task (or tasks) during your field trip. This will help to keep him or her focused, concentrated on the task at hand, occupied in a fun activity and motivated.
Field Trip Ideas for Children with Autism
1. Go to the zoo.
This may be my favorite idea on this list which is why I am listing it first. A trip to your local zoo is so much fun and provides a great opportunity to work on animal vocabulary, get outside and have a fun experience with your child.
Autistic children have a hard time imagining something out of context. Learning about a duck and seeing photos of it is not the same as seeing a duck in a pond or feeding a duck at the petting zoo. All of these different experiences will help your child learn new vocabulary, navigate varied everyday and social experiences and have fun!
2. Enjoy a walk around a local garden.
Smell the flours, take photos of the flowers, draw the flowers, pick the flowers (if allowed) and press them in a book when you get back home. The possibilities for fun activities in an outdoor garden are endless! Have your child play a bird matching game at the garden.
3. Attend a group story time at a local library or book shop.
Check out the local activities where you live. A story time for young kids can be the perfect opportunity to work on beginning social skills, sitting in a small group, staying attentive and having a fun social activity. If you are ready to get a babysitter for your child with autism, this is also the kind of activity the babysitter could take your child to participate in.
At the end of story time, choose a book to purchase and bring home or take out a book to bring home if you are at the library.
4. Go for a nature walk.
Why not take your child on a fun nature adventure? You can look for specific items together (pinecones, feathers, a certain small of small critter) or just use the time outside as a chance to let off steam, run around, chase each other and have some unstructured outdoor fun!
5. Visit an aquarium.
I love visiting the aquarium and have taken so many groups of children to our local Parisian aquarium in the 12th arrondissement.
Like a trip to the zoo, you can use your time at the aquarium to see the fish, take photos, draw the fish and more.
6. Go the grocery store.
Have your child look for a particular list of foods or items you need to buy. As a general rule, I recommend involving your child in as many everyday activities as possible, as they give your child feedback and help your child learn to navigate everyday situations more independently. They also provide opportunities to learn new vocabulary, have social interactions and learn other skills too. Going to the grocery store is one of my favourite field trip ideas for autistic learners.
7. Star gaze at the planetarium.
Children who are fascinated by the stars and planets will love a trip to the planetarium to see them. This is also the perfect field trip idea for kids who thrive on sensory stimulation, particularly visual stimulation, as planetariums tend to be very visually stimulating.
8. Visit a local (or faraway) historical site.
Does you child love seeing new things? Is he or she is a budding history buff? I know some kids with autism who love sharing historical facts and dates! These kids would probably love to actually go and visit historical sites rather than just reading about them. Plan a trip to your child’s favorite historical site. Start local and if your child is open to travel, you could plan a trip to another place.
9. Visit an interactive museum and participate in the activities.
Make list of the kid-friendly museums in your area. I recommend interactive museums as they tend to hold children’s attention longer and are generally more fun for children with autism. They tend to also have plan in place to help children participate in the visit rather than being a passive visitor. Interactive museums are usually best for kids with autism.
10. Visit a friend who has a pet.
The children in my autism coaching program absolutely love our dogs, Violette and Chou Chou! Although some children with autism are scared of dogs, most of the children I have worked with love them. Visiting an animal and getting to hold it can be a fantastic experience for any child. Do you have a friend who has a dog, a cat, chicken, a hamster or a guinea pig? Maybe going to visit them could be a fun and educational field trip idea!
11. Go to a farm.
Visit a traditional farm to find eggs, feed the goats or milk a cow. If you check, you may even find that you have an exotic farm near you where you can see hedgehogs, ostriches and more. We have one North of Paris that even has kangaroos!
12. Go to the playground.
The playground is a simple choice but a wonderful place to work on a variety of social skills. You can build your child’s imitation skills at the playground, along with social skills, communication skills, gross motor skills, play skills and more.
Pro tip : If your child has trouble staying focused during any of these activities, bring along a DIY fidget and have your child hold onto it during the field trip activity.
Why it is essential to organize field trips for your child with autism
What special needs classes need to plan for field trips too
How to prepare your child for a field trip
I am a big advocated for preparing your child adequately before going into any new experiences. Children with autism can have a harder time than other children adapting to new situations and may need more time than other children to prepare themselves to go into new situations.
One of my favorite tools for getting your child ready for the field trip ideas on this list, and new and social situations in general, are adapted printable social stories for children with autism.
The tools you need to make the most of a field trip
There are many tools that can help your child have a great experience before, during and after a field trip.
1. Use adapted printable social stories for children with autism to prepare your child for the field trip and to stay on track during the field trip.
2. Bring along a visual schedule that will make it clear what will happen during the field trip and help to ease transitions for your child or students.
3. Have a DIY fidget on hand for children who have a higher level of anxiety or just have trouble staying still and focused on the task at hand.
What to do when you get back home
Once you have planned your field trip and gone on the field trip with your child, you can still get more out of the experience once you are back home (or back in your classroom)!
There are so many ways you can keep benefiting from a field trip adventure long after it is over.
These are some of my favorite ideas
1. Put together a field trip journal with favorite items collected during the field trip. You can also have your child draw in the field trip journal and add photos from the adventure you shared.
2. Do a related sensory activity when you get back home. Did you just visit the aquarium? Engage your child in this fun printable fish bowl play dough mat.
3. Did you take a trip to the zoo? These zoo animal play dough mats are the perfect activity to share with your child when you get back home!
I hope you loved these field trip ideas for children with autism!
Which ideas have you already tried? Do you have other field trip ideas? Let us know in the comments below!
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