Field Trip Tips


Planning a field trip might seem like daunting task, but we’ve created some helpful tips in collaboration with our Teacher Advisory Councils!

Book Early – Classroom experiences and tours sell out early, especially in April and May. Book early to secure your desired program date. Calling 800-433-4149 will connect you to book a self-guided experience at all five of our parks as well as tours and classroom programs.

Visit During the Off-Season & Save! – WCS Parks are much quieter before April, and you can receive classroom program discounts if you visit before the busy season! In addition, most of our parks have indoor exhibits for you to warm up in while exploring animals. There’s no such thing as bad weather - only bad clothing!

Enhance Your Trip with an Education Experience – The parks offer classroom-based experiences for Pre-K to High School students which not only provide an experience for hands-on learning, but also an opportunity to explore exhibits and meet (and sometimes touch) animals! Highlight tours led by our adult volunteers are another wonderful way to enhance your park experience.

Pre-planning is Crucial – Check out the Central Park Zoo Map before your visit so you know your surroundings, including bathrooms! Make sure your chaperones have a map too and know their role for the day. If you’ve registered for a tour or classroom program, the staff or volunteers will reach out to you prior to your visit to ensure you know where to go and ask if you have any special requests or things you’d like to share. Provide directions for your bus driver and allow extra time for traffic or subway issues.

Expect the Unexpected – It’s great to have a plan for the day but the parks are comprised of living animals that can be unpredictable. An animal you planned to see may be off exhibit for the day or hard to find. Be sure to thoroughly look all over the exhibit before moving on. As is the nature of some animals they may be hiding, especially if your students are noisy. Staff and volunteers are always around to help you though!

Help your students become SCIENTISTS!

  • Be patient and encourage students to use their observation skills. Animals are adapted to blend into their habitat, so some might be harder to spot than others. “I Spy” is a great way to keep students engaged a little bit longer and can even be scaled up to older students using graphics and scientific names.
  • Stop and take some time to read the graphics. It might spark your interest, as well as your students!
  • Ask the students questions to build on their observations and prior knowledge.
    Have you ever seen anything like this before?
    Tell me about it.
    What do you notice?
    What do you think?
    Why do you think that?
  • Remember: it is OK to not have answers! We hope that our animals inspire a lot of questions and encourages everyone to find out more. If you don’t have the answer, take note of it and either ask a staff member or look it up as a group.
  • Be fearless. Even if you have hesitations around certain animals, remember that your opinion can be passed on to students. Be open-minded, and hopefully, you’ll learn to appreciate those animals just as much as the students will!

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