13 Virtual Field Trips Your Kids Can Take During COVID-19

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At this point in the COVID-19 pandemic—no matter if your kids are in school full-time, homeschooling, or doing some sort of hybrid setup—we are all suffering from a serious case of cabin fever.

Many of the places we used to bring our kids when we needed to get out of the house on a Saturday afternoon are closed, and the ones that are still open have so many restrictions for safety it can make an outing not even worth it.

But. But. The kids are bored. You’ve exhausted all of your at-home resources. They’ve learned everything they can about Renaissance art, endangered species, and ancient civilizations through books, crafts, and the internet—now they need to “see” this stuff up close. 

Though nothing can ever match the experience of going on a field trip to explore something in the real world, a virtual field trip can come close—and it’s better than staring at a picture in a book or watching a documentary on TV.

If you’re looking to change the scenery of your child’s education while staying in the safety of your home during the pandemic, you’re in luck: head to one of these virtual field trip sites, grab a comfy chair, and enjoy.

Art and Culture 

If your child has always had an interest in the arts or you find that they are looking to draw or color something new, then these options below may be a great choice for your kid.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Whether you’re obsessed with fashion, sculpture, music, or poetry, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a virtual tour for you. With online and in-person exhibits made viewable thanks to Google’s street view cameras, you can make your way through museum rooms or photo galleries chock full of art to admire. 

The Blue House Frida Kahlo Museum

We can’t decide what’s more fun to look at in this virtual tour of The Blue House, a museum dedicated to Frida Kahlo: the art itself or the architecture housing it, which ranges from brightly painted houses and walls to lush greenery and fascinating trees.

Of course, the museum is also the place where she lived, died, and created much of her work—so you get up close and personal with Frida the artist and Frida the woman. 

The National Gallery of Art 

Scrolling through photos of art in a museum online isn’t that different from looking at them in a book—unless you're taking a virtual field trip to The National Gallery of Art!

This museum has found a way to make viewing art interactive. With its children’s video tours, it brings 50 different historic pieces of art to life in just a few minutes, including audio effects, narration, and close-up shots of the details featured in each work.

There are also conversation starters about art, a guided video tour of Stuart Davis’ work hosted by John Lithgow, and an interactive educational app for kids

Science

Got a future paleontologist, zoologist, or "Bill Nye the Science Guy" on your hands? For kids obsessed with animals, outer space, dinosaurs, chemical reactions, or how the world works, these science field trips are engaging and educational.

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

If your child is interested in learning about the natural environment and the organisms that inhabit it, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History is a great option. Current, past, and permanent exhibits are included in this virtual tour, which allows you to navigate through the museum using your device or to click on different areas to visit on an interactive map.

There is even a series of narrated tours on video for kids who want to dive deep into a topic (like megalodons). The 360 degree images on this tour are crystal clear, making it feel like you are really there!

San Diego Zoo

Not only does the web site for the San Diego Zoo feature exhibit cams and zookeeper-hosted videos on many of its animal residents, it’s also a great resource for animal crafts and science experiments, online games, and fact-based infographics about different species. It’s more than just tuning into a live cam; it’s a virtual visit that gets close to being as fun as the real deal.

Seattle Aquarium

The Seattle Aquarium is a mecca for marine biologists-in-training. Check out what kinds of exhibits the aquarium houses on location through live cams, activities, and fact sheets, then head over to YouTube, where staff host a virtual field trip by walking-and-talking you through several of the species native to the Puget Sound that spend their days inside the aquarium.

Farm Food 360

Can’t get up to Canada to tour a chicken farm, dairy cow farm, or grain farm? No problem! At Farm Food 360, you can read about how more than a dozen Canadian farms are run and watch a series of videos about each one, explaining everything from how a farmer spends their day to environmental sustainability of modern-day farms. 

Johnson Space Center

Mini Neil Armstrongs should check out the Johnson Space Center online for NASA-approved education opportunities. Boeing and Discovery Education host two virtual field trips on space exploration: Innovating the Future and ecoAction.

Both trips consist of a video series and companion educator guides, so you can apply your newfound knowledge over the course of a few days’ worth of lesson plans and activities

Museum of Science

The Museum of Science, a Boston-based science mecca, is worth a trip at some point in your life, but since it's closed during the pandemic, you’ll have to settle for a virtual experience. Thankfully, the museum is hosting weekly live streams of presentations, with everything from live animal demonstrations to chats about current science events to planetarium tours included to hold you over.

History and Social Studies

If your kid's life goals include becoming President of the United States, these field trips focused on American history, civics, and notable landmarks will be right up their educational alley.

U.S. Census Bureau

Home learners can improve their statistical literacy by checking out the lesson plans on the web site for the U.S. Census Bureau. There are five-minute challenges, state facts, and activities for several subject branches—math, english, and sociology, to name a few—making the information approachable from multiple angles. Much of it is broken down by grade, so it can be used with students of different ages.

Ellis Island

Whatever country your family tree can be traced back to, it's likely that you have some kind of connection to Ellis Island. Through Scholastic’s web site, you can take a 30-minute virtual tour of Ellis Island and follow it up with an interactive story and photo tour, diaries of real young immigrants, and colorful charts and bar graphs depicting important statistics about immigration through the decades.

Yellowstone National Park

You can go on virtual “walks” through Yellowstone National Park in a series of videos on the National Park Service’s web site. When you’re done, dig deeper into fascinating areas of the park—like Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris Geyser Basin—by reading about their histories, taking guided photo tours, and exploring their landmarks on an interactive map.

Mount Rushmore

You seen Mount Rushmore in history books, but that didn't get you as close to Teddy Roosevelt’s left nostril as you hoped! Never fear: you can go on a "deep dive" (pun intended) on this virtual tour of the famous American landmark.

Featuring a 3D explorer, a 360 degree virtual tour, and a video about how the landmark has been digitally preserved over the years, you can get a good look at the true size and scale of this impressive monument—and learn a little about history, too.

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