Visiting a museum can be an excellent hands-on educational experience. Whether you're a parent planning a family vacation or a teacher planning a field trip, there are things you can do beforehand to maximize
everyone's enjoyment and enrichment.
For parents, deciding where to go and what to see are key. For
teachers, planning ahead isn't a luxury - it's essential.
Going to a
Museum?: A Teacher's Guide recommends teachers begin planning museum field
trips as early as six to eight months in advance. At this point, teachers
should call the museum to arrange a date, request buses or other
transportation and begin a lesson plan. The site offers sample
lesson plans in a number of subjects, including some for specific museums.
The American Museum of Science and Energy
offers a list of general tips for planning a field trip. One tip: plan to have at least one
chaperone for every 10 high school or junior high school students, and one
for every six elementary students.
Pick a good time
Many museums offer free admission on particular days of the week. This may sound
appealing, but these days (and weekends) are usually the most
crowded times to visit.
"A lot of teachers don't want to take trips on Mondays because it's right
after the weekend and kids will forget to bring the necessary items," said
Jane Lee, school and outreach program coordinator at the
Children's Museum of Manhattan. Certain months of the year are also
busier than others. According to Lee, November and March through May are
particularly popular months.
Prepare for the day
Get materials from the museum before the trip when possible.
The National Gallery of Art offers teacher resources online. It also helps to visit the museum before the
trip to familiarize yourself with the layout and exhibits. If that isn't
possible, check out the museum's Web site.
MuseumSpot.com and MuseumStuff link to thousands of museum sites and virtual exhibits.
"Teachers forget to check to see if a museum has lunch facilities," she
said. She also stresses the importance of nametags for younger students,
adding that they should indicate what school the student attends in addition
to his or her name.
Young children and students should understand museum etiquette before
has a simple list of guidelines. Remember that different museums have
different rules - some museums encourage touching, while others strictly forbid it.