Best Free Virtual Field Trips for Kids and Families Who Can’t Visit in Person
While your children may be physically trapped inside, online tours always give them access to the rest of the outside world. In the same way that school has gone digital – with distance home education, live after-school lessons and home learning portals wherever you look – class travel has also moved online. These virtual excursions for children will allow them to contemplate world-class art, learn about history, discover science and even discover what it is like in space.
Of course, these are still screen experiences. If you want to get the most out of a virtual tour, try to keep your kids engaged with the equipment even after they turn off their devices. Depending on their age, they can either draw what they remember most or what their favourite part of the “trip” is, or write down some facts they have learned. If you plan to do more than one, you can even create a workbook to serve as a journal for your virtual explorer.
Visit collections and learn about art history and artefacts with these online museum experiences.
- American Museum of Natural History: Brian Selznick, author of Wonderstruck, leads a virtual tour of the museum, meeting experts in the field.
- English museum: This cool and interactive site allows children to browse the museum’s collection by period, not by room, so children can focus on the era that most interests them.
- Historic Hudson Valley: This site offers many online story-themed experiences for kids, from “Traders and Raiders”, which examines the history of pirates in the greater New York area, to “People Not Property”, which teaches slavery to children. There are also many ideas for historic activities at home, such as cooking with semolina or “tinsmithing” at home with aluminium foil.
- Museum of Metropolitan Art: The #MetKids site is for toddlers and allows them to explore acute and illustrated map to find treasures in the museum’s collection.
- Louvre Museum: The world-renowned museum offers virtual tours by subject, from the body in the art to Egyptian antiquities.
- Museum of the American Revolution: Lauren Tarshis, author of I survived a series of books, welcomes a visit to this museum on the theme of history and talks about the revolutionary war.
- Science Museum: The #MOSatHome page offers a virtual overview of Boston Museum exhibits and hosts daily livestreams and webinars.
- National art gallery: The National Gallery of Canada offers 50 video tours specially designed for children, focusing on a work and the people, places and scenes surrounding its creation.
- SFMOMA: The #MuseumFromHome series takes visitors to the museum and beyond, providing a glimpse of where artists do their work.
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: You can bookmark this one to visit over and over again, as it offers a virtual version of each exhibit in the museum.
- The Vatican Museum: You can get 360 looks in nine rooms of the Vatican – including the magnificent Sistine Chapel.
Find out how food grows, is harvested and arrives at your table with these farm tours.
- American Egg Board: The Egg Board offers virtual tours of different egg farms, and many of them allow you to choose different videos for elementary and middle school students.
- Bright Farms: A farmer in Irvington, NY shows children how food goes from the field (in this case, an indoor farmer) to the grocery store. There is even a quiz at the end!
- Farm Food 360: Children can see 11 different kinds of farms and food plants, including dairy cow farms, egg processing facilities, and an apple orchard.
You may not be able to go on vacation at this time, but these virtual tours are the best thing to do.
- Buckingham Palace: Go room by room and discover all the incredible historical objects of the palace.
- Ellis Island: Discover the island as the 12 million immigrants did between 1892 and 1954 thanks to a virtual visit with many first-hand stories.
- Mount Rushmore: The virtual tour of Mount Rushmore was created using 3D scans of the mountain.
- Mount Vernon: Take a look inside George Washington’s house the same way you would click Street View on a Google map.
- Plimoth Plantation: Take a tour of the first Thanksgiving site and learn the story behind the event.
- The White House: President Obama recounts a visit to “The People’s House”, and you can scroll and click on the points of interest.
Zoos and aquariums
These zoos and aquariums have live cameras where children can connect with the animals.
Even more fun
From a candy factory on the surface of Mars, these tours take children to places that are not accessible to them even in normal times.
- Discovery Education: The site hosts virtual excursions for children, from engineering factories that make the cars of the future to a laboratory that researches nuclear energy.
- M & Ms factory visit: The Food Network organizes a virtual tour of the M & Ms factory and shows how the delicious sweets are made.
- Outer Space Tours: Kids can see the true surface of Mars, courtesy of the Curiosity rover. NASA is also making virtual tours of the Moon with the International Space Station.