Tips for Chaperoning a Trip to a Working Farm or a Living Historical Farm

Historical farms and working farms are popular spots for educational school field trips. The historical farm, void of electricity and modern conveniences, offers teachers an excellent opportunity to introduce students first hand to many historical facts and details taught in the classroom but not often seen or experienced in modern life. Modern working farms teach food science, environmental lessons, and much more! As with any field trip, chaperones are always much appreciated—and parents are on call for the task. What should you know about chaperoning a field trip to a working farm or a living historical farm?  We are also submitting this post as our Letter C in the Blogging from A to Z challenge.  C is for chaperone tips!

costumed characters at the Conner Prairie historical farm site
Dress for the weather. Class field trips typically tour the entire farm—including a trek to the barn and outbuildings for historical presentations. Comfortable, farm-friendly, walking shoes are a must—as are appropriate outdoor jackets and rain gear as many schools do not cancel field trips for rain. It may be beneficial to pack along a few extra umbrellas in case children in your touring group are less than prepared for the day's weather! Our Ohio fall trips may bring rain--or even snow--, and spring trips may bring snow early in the season or rain during later months! Bring an umbrella--and waterproof boots or old shoes no matter the season! You are likely to leave wet and muddy during a fall/spring tour of the farm!

Be prepared for close quarters.  If your group is touring a historical farmhouse, expect to be ushered tightly into the small house rooms—depending, of course, on the size of your group. While the rooms are relatively child friendly, it is still important to closely watch the group—especially in the farmhouse kitchen where the stove is likely to be in use (and HOT)! If you have more rambunctious children--I would suggest that you shuttle them to the rear/edges of the rooms for close-quarter presentations.

Remember that you are visiting a working farm.  Your group will likely see the farm working and in action during your visit.  Farm machinery, animals and equipment pose risks to curious (rambunctious) children.  Keep your eyes out for risks and keep a closer eye on the kids in your group who are more likely to wander or explore more hands-on!  

The presenters leave no doubt as to the origins of breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the farm. Be prepared that during certain parts of the trip, it may become suddenly and maybe painfully apparent to the kids—sometimes for the first time—that the cute baby pig that they just met grows up to be farm breakfast sausage. Some children may have some tough questions for you after learning this—so, either be prepared to think quick on your feet or pre-plan your explanations. You should also be ready to face vegetarian and vegan questions. Farms are real. They represent fresh meat and dairy production in many cases. Historical farms represent the actions and activities of the 1800's--and they did not practice a vegan/vegetarian existence as some of the students in your field trip group may today! 

pinnable image for a list of farm trip chaperone tips

Get your Group Talking.  Share some knowledge with the kids if you have any rural, farm knowledge to share! If you do not have your experience to share, step up, and engage the farm presenters! They will be more than happy to answer questions--or ask a few to get quieter groups learning and engaging in the surroundings.

Locate the restrooms upon entering the farm area.  Locating restrooms is truly a #1 Chaperone issue. There is nothing worse than chaperoning a "potty-dancing" 5-year-old with no known bathroom in sight--and nobody to really ask! Most farms open to visitors and tour groups will have available restroom facilities—but, it helps to know where to find them before you need one! So discuss this issue with your tour guide or your lead teachers as soon as you arrive!

Plan ahead for "take-home" items. Sometimes, children receive small items, papers, crafts, even produce as they tour a farm. There is nothing worse than keeping track of loose gourds or wooden whistle crafts for an hour before the kids make it to the bus! Be aware of the items expected as take home extras--and bring along plastic grocery bags or zippered bags labeled with the children's names. Containing things also keeps these extra items out of sight and out of mind for easily distracted little ones as you continue the tour!   Also remember the items that you don't want to take home like extra dirt and germs!  Pack along a small bottle of hand sanitizer and some moist wipes to help clean those hands as you switch between presenters and activities.

Pay attention to the field trip schedule.  Will you be rotating between presentation stations as small groups or as full classrooms at the sound of a farm bell—or will you be merely exploring the farm with your small group? If you are on your own, and new to the farm, try to pay attention to the location of the parked transportation buses—and be sure to adhere to the trip schedule. Teachers are usually on a set schedule to return students to school and awaiting parents or busing. So it is imperative that you remain responsible for ensuring that your group isn't holding up the trip by losing sight of the bus or by not considering the time needed for a lengthy walk!

A post similar to this one was initially published on the Columbus Stay At Home Moms Examiner Website. That site is no longer live, and publication rights returned to me, allowing me to use this article as I wish. A reprint of the original article has been used by Friends of Slate Run Farm on their site for many years. This post has been edited and updated to share "new" knowledge based on a few more trips as a chaperone to the farm!

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