red panda lying on brown log

Explore the World: Virtual Field Trips for Homeschoolers

What Are Virtual Field Trips?

Virtual field trips are a great way to combine learning with discovery. They allow you and your kids to explore new places all over the world without ever leaving your living room!

We just love field trips in our homeschool. I am a big planner of Field Trip Fridays, where we explore our local area – it could be as simple as a park we've never been to + a stop for ice cream. Field trips don't have to be elaborate.

However, we live in a place where the weather is rainy and cold much of the year – and we are a bit remote. The nearest big city is an hour and a half away plus a ferry ride!

Thankfully, an internet connection is all we need to explore the world with all kinds of virtual field trips! My daughter loves to learn visually, so videos are great learning tools in our homeschool.

How Do You Do a Virtual Field Trip?

All you need is a device and an internet connection!

Live field trips, or interactive video tours, will require a stable internet connection via whatever technology the organizer is using (like Zoom). Videos can be watched from your phone or tablet, but ideally on the biggest screen in your house – the TV!

The videos or live streams are just the beginning of the virtual field trip experience. Don't stop the learning there! Use the ideas below to add crafting, cooking and exploring to your trip. Make memories. Make the day sparkly!

How Can I Make Virtual Trips More Exciting?

Making virtual field trips more fun is easy with a few simple ideas!

We are all about the kinesthetic, hands-on learning over here, AND I have a budding chef and baker in my house. So, cooking is one way we bring a virtual field trip to life. Research recipes – maybe a main course and a dessert, or a popular holiday food, depending on the time of year.

Maps are another way to make virtual tour more fun. Download – or draw! – a map of your journey with your child. Discover where on earth your field trip is – talk about how you'd travel there if you could. Plane? Boat? Taxi? Camel? What kind of clothes would you pack?

Look up nearby towns and check out the main streets on Google Maps. What stores are there? What language is spoken? How do the locals get around? This is a fun way to learn about geography and different cultures.

Craft up a souvenir! So, you're not visiting in person, but who says you can't have a souvenir anyway? Research crafts from the area of your field trip, or get creative on your own. For instance, for my Pacific Northwest Tidepools field trip (see below!) I created with my daughter, you could create a driftwood sculpture or make a shell collage.

How long are virtual field trips?

Usually, anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.

It also depends on whether it's a video experience or something happening live, with interaction from the audience (these can be longer).

You can find shorter or longer experiences based on your kids' ages and how in-depth you want to go!

Are virtual field trips live or recorded?

They can be both. Some are pre-recorded resources with photos and videos, like my Pacific Northwest Tidepools virtual field trip. The benefit, of course, is that these trips can fit into your schedule and your curriculum whenever works for you.

Some are live experiences, via zoom, where kids can interact with the leader and the field trip happens in real time.

What kinds of virtual field trips are there?

As many as you can think of!

You can visit zoos, museums, national parks. You can tour factories, government buildings, historical sites. You can dive under the ocean or visit the space station. You can go practically anywhere on earth.

A simple Google search on a topic + virtual field trip will bring you pages and pages of results! It's so fun to explore all the opportunities. You can find field trips for just about any subject or interest you and your kids have!

Now – let's get to the fun!

My Hand-Picked List of Awesome Virtual Field Trips

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission, at not cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for more information.

Oregon Zoo: Meet the Animals and Zookeepers

Oregon Zoo virtual field trip picture of a red panda on a log

The Oregon Zoo has a fantastic, ongoing series of videos introducing kids to various animals up-close, seeing how the zoo replicates their natural habitats, and important facts about conservation and protecting animals in the wild – all taught by zoo staff. Each video is accompanied by an activity you and your kids can do at home.

With nearly 30 videos to choose from, you could do one per week and have nearly a school year's worth! Supplement with library books, other animal videos, create animal art… so much learning! Here are just some of the animals you can meet and learn about:

  • Butterflies
  • Otters
  • Red Pandas
  • Giraffes
  • Lemurs

I have an animal lover in my house, and these videos are a huge hit. I bet they'll be fun for your kids, too!

Hidden Worlds of the National Parks

Lava from Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks will blow your mind. Get ready for an in-depth virtual trip to these 5 national parks in-depth with park ranger guides:

  • Kenai Fjords National Park (Alaska)
  • Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park (Hawai'i)
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park (New Mexico)
  • Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)
  • Dry Tortugas National Park (Florida)

There's also SO MANY other great resources and videos on this site, from visiting other national parks with 360 degree street view (including walking a trail at Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park – in my hometown), to video tours of Abraham Lincoln's home and Alcatraz Island.

Son Doong Cave, Vietnam

Inside the world's largest cave on a virtual field trip

Take in the amazing views from the world's largest cave: Son Doong Cave in Vietnam. You can get lost in the forests… inside a cave. This panoramic walkthrough will have you saying, “WOW!” over and over. Cool facts about the cave pop up on the left, and you navigate to different map checkpoints on the right. In the center, use your mouse to look around!

Very few scientists and people have been allowed inside this cave. Wouldn't it be amazing to be one of them?

Pacific Northwest Tidepools

Giant green anemone with urchins and mussels in a tidepool at Salt Creek Recreation Area, Joyce, WA

Come on a trip with me to the beautiful tidepools of Tongue Point at Salt Creek Recreation Area in Joyce, WA. We'll get an up-close look at all sorts of sea creatures like mussels, limpets, hermit crabs, barnacles, and anemones.

This is a place our family visits and explores often! I've also created printable packs for the different sea creatures to go along with the virtual field trip, so check the link above (goes to my Teachers Pay Teachers listing)!

Bahamian Coral Reefs

Sandy beach with ocean and reefs

My family and I love to snorkel. This virtual field trip exploring Life on the Bahamian Coral Reef is so beautiful and highlights the need for conservation of all our reefs around the world. This site features a ton of learning resources, including:

  • Gorgeous coral reef educational poster
  • Videos on identifying fish and coral
  • Downloadable sea creature packets
  • Printables about climate change and protecting reefs

This is truly a great website and set of teacher guides and resources for diving into learning about coral reefs and what's happening to our oceans. (See what I did there? 🤣)

The Surface of Mars

The surface of Mars, sand and rocks

Let's explore the surface of Mars with footage from the NASA Mars rover! Having grown up in the 70s, where our explorations of outer space were limited to school movies and pictures in whatever books our small-town library had, it's incredibly exciting to SEE the surface of Mars!

NASA has all kinds of free awesome resources. Check out Learning Space with NASA at Home from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Videos, hands-on science projects, and more!

Inside an Amazon Fulfillment Warehouse

A virtual tour inside an Amazon fulfillment warehouse

Get a peek into Amazon's fulfillment infrastructure with live virtual tours! Amazon's live tours went online during the pandemic. You can choose from two hour long tours:

  • Fulfillment: How do those Amazon orders get to your mailbox or front porch so fast? Check out this live virtual tour focusing on six main processes: Receive, Stow, Pick, Pack, SLAM, and Ship.
  • Future Engineers: Discover how amazing engineering and computer science work together with fulfillment crew to keep these huge warehouses humming.

Amazon really is on the cutting edge of the technology and systems for packing and fulfillment – this is a cool look inside the systems.

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

Take a 360° tour of another marvel of ancient engineering, The Great Wall of China. Wouldn't it be cool if the entire wall was still maintained? Unfortunately, only certain sections have been preserved and kept open, though brave hikers can (at their own risk) hike along abandoned sections.

China's Great Wall is 3000 miles of wall and towers built over mountainous country, over hundreds and hundreds of years… that's longer than the distance from Washington to Florida in the US, which is the longest land route across the country, that logs in at just over 2,800 miles.

The Great Pyramid of Giza

Pyramids of Giza

A couple of years ago we stumbled on this BBC 360° video tour inside the Great Pyramid (Pyramid of Ghufu) in Giza. Use your mouse to “look” up, down, and all around. It's on my bucket list to see this in person one day.

Isn't it fascinating to realize that even with all of our technology today, we don't yet know how exactly the pyramids were built? You can also listen to this BBC podcast called Secrets of the Great Pyramid to learn more from Egyptologists and a space archaeologist (did you even know that existed?).

The International Space Station

The international space station with earth in the background

Jump aboard the International Space Station and learn more about living in space with NASA's four-video virtual tour. Learn directly from astronauts who live, eat, sleep, and work up in zero gravity!

  • How do astronauts go to the bathroom?
  • How do they not float around while they're sleeping?
  • Why is exercise so important and how do they do it?
  • See the original Russian modules and the observation deck

I can't imagine living in outer space, can you? I highly recommend grabbing some astronaut ice cream and watching these videos on your TV!

A Trip to the Planetarium

A screenshot of the Stellarium Web application showing constellations

Explore the night sky with Stellarium Web (also available as an app). The built in logbook can help you keep track of what you've learned. Toggle the settings to see more of the atmosphere or remove the landscape to see more of the sky.

On the desktop app, you click on the location in the lower left and you can change it to anywhere in the world! I put in our hometown and found that there is a camera right here!

Add Virtual Field Trips to Your Homeschool!

One of the best things about virtual field trips is that they are available anytime, anywhere. You and your kids can have a field trip adventure from the comfort of your couch, or in the car driving around on errands! Here are some ideas for great times to go on a virtual field trip:

  • When you or a child aren't feeling well – cozy up on the couch in PJs and blankets, and take a virtual trip somewhere you've never been (tropical places are always a good idea).
  • Slot in to your curriculum – whether it's science, geography, history, literature or any other subject, you can find amazing field trips and virtual tours that take learning out of the books and worksheets and into real life.
  • Follow your child's interests and look up experiences that fit. For instance, my daughter is interested in becoming a baker, and a quick search led me to pages of virtual tours of bakeries large and small all over the country!
  • When plans fall through – we love our real-life Field Trip Fridays, but sometimes the weather is terrible or a destination is closed. Virtual field trips to the rescue!

What I love most about virtual field trips is that they are sensory rich, visual and aural, and lend themselves to fun discussions, more questions to explore and answer, and family time. You can do them with your crew of multiple ages and with kids of all abilities and neurodiversities.

Do you have any virtual field trips I should add to the list? Do any local businesses near you offer virtual tours? Tell me in the comments below!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.