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The end of the school year is rapidly approaching. As the days dwindle, students are becoming more and more restless and ready to start their summer. Help keep students engaged and active by scheduling some Virtual Field Trips! Virtual Field Trips are cost-effective, engaging, inquiry based and provide connections to places that most students will never be able to visit in person. Read on to discover a Virtual Field Trip that is just right for your classroom.

Virtual Field Trips

A Virtual Field Trip (VFT) is a collection of images, sites, videos or other digital media that allow teachers to enhance student learning. VFT's allow in-depth exploration of places that may be impractical or impossible for students to visit during the school day. VFT's are less costly (most are free) and less time consuming than a regular field trip. Virtual Field Trips offer authentic, inquiry based learning experiences for students and can be tied to standards in almost every subject area. Students can make connections between themselves and the outside world while exploring the environment at their own pace and in a way that makes sense for their learning style.

A collection of Virtual Field Trip links can be found here.


Google Lit Trips: GLT's are downloadable Google Earth files that follow famous literary characters on their journeys. Each place in the journey has a pop-up window that provides discussion starters, information in regards to "real-world" references made in the book and other supplementary material. The Google Lit Trip site is broken down into three grade bands: K-5, 6-8 and 9-12. Examples of books found on the Google Lit Trip site are Make Way for Ducklings, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and Macbeth.

Knowing Poe: An interactive way to explore the life and works of Edgar Allen Poe.

America's Story: Students can follow the history of America through stories

Social Studies

Smithsonian: Take a virtual tour of the Museum of Natural History. Past and present exhibitions are viewable in browser, desktop and mobile formats. Hotspots are currently not available on mobile devices.

Inside the White House: Students can take an interactive tour of the White House. Various forms of media allow students to understand the history and unique features of each room as well as the significance of each room in regards to the day-to-day functionings of the White House.

Planet in Action: Take guided tours of landmarks such as The Grand Canyon, Mt. Saint Helens and Disneyland Paris. Classes can watch the guided tours and then hire a helicopter pilot to navigate the trip for the class. Students can even create postcards of their trip or create their own virtual field trip.


Real World Math: Free downloadable lessons that use Google Earth to teach real world math concepts using geographical reference points.

The U.S. Mint: Take a virtual tour of the coin making process.

Sense and Dollars: Explore money!


Google Art Project: Collections of art from dozens of galleries around the world have been accumulated to allow students to see works of art while remaining in the classroom. There are also user created galleries that allow teachers to create themed presentations of art from the different galleries.

Leonardo da Vinci: Explore the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci through Boston's Museum of Science.

The Cave Paintings of Lascaux: Take a virtual tour of the Lascaux Cave Paintings.


Google Sky: With Google Sky you can explore constellations, watch distant galaxies form and view the position of various planets. Google sky features a "change view" mode that allows you to look at the universe in infrared, microwave or historical mode.

Birch Aquarium: Students can "walk around" The Birch Aquarium and learn about marine life.

Endangered Ecosystems: Students will learn about the ecosystems of Mexico, Costa Rica and Brazil.


Carnegie Hall: Slideshow of the history of Carnegie Hall.

National Music Museum: A virtual tour of the museum.

Rickenbacker Guitar Tour: An informational tour of the Rickenbacker Guitar Factory.

Foreign Languages

The Inca Trail and Machu Picchu: A virtual trip down the Inca Trail

Early Civilizations (Teotihuacan Mexico): Discover this archeological site in the Basin of Mexico

Paris, France: Highlights four of France's most popular attractions

Eiffel Tower: 360 degree tour of the Eiffel Tower

Virtual Field Trip Apps

The following are all free iPad apps for Virtual Field Trips.

National Parks by National Geographic: Includes pictures, information, details on weather and interactive maps about National Parks including Acadia, Mount Rainier, Yellowstone and Zion.

Gettysburg Battle App: Use various forms of media to take a tour of the Gettysburg Battlefield.

The Life of Art: This app was designed by the Getty museum and focuses on four items from their collection. Student can manipulate the 3-D objects and learn more about the history and characteristics of each item.

Timeline- Art Museum: Bring the works of famous artists to your students with this app.

Creatures of Light: The Creatures of Light exhibit is no longer on display at the American Museum of Natural History but thanks to the app students can explore bioluminescence on land or in the sea.

The Congressional Record: Up-to-date information, archived text and CSPAN clips bring the House of Representatives and Senate to your classroom.

"Curious kids seeking answers don't get bored." Vicki Davis @CoolCatTeacher

All pictures courtesy of Pics4Learning- a site dedicated to providing copyright friendly images for students and teachers to use in an educational setting.