How to Plan a Virtual Field Trip

by Erin Dye

Virtual Field Trip

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG |

A few weeks ago, I posted an entry on the many different virtual field trips that are available online or as apps. I promised that I’d also walk through how to plan an effective and fun virtual field trip. So here goes!

For the purposes of this exercise, I’m going to choose one of the sample field trips that I mentioned last time: The Secret Annex Online.


Virtual Field Trip: The Secret Annex Online


  • Students experience the setting for The Diary of Anne Frank.
  • Students work toward understanding the hardships Jews faced during the WWII era.
  • Students build proficiency with technology, benefit from global communication and creativity, and analyze and evaluate multimedia.

Time Needed: One class period

Preparation: Students should have finished or be in the process of reading the book The Diary of Anne Frank.

  • Discuss the people who lived in the Secret Annex and their relationships to Anne.
  • Review key terms and places, such as Amsterdam, Nazis, Judaism, Holocaust, persecution, and concentration camp.

Pre-Trip Discussion:

  • What is the setting of this book?
  • Why is it important to understand the book’s setting?
  • Why is it important to remember Anne Frank and her family and friends?
  • What will we look for during our tour?

Logistics: I suggest you project the website on your whiteboard and allow several students to take turns managing the controls. If this isn’t possible, set up students on individual computers. Note that the activity is Flash-based, so it won’t work on iPads. There is audio available for each room, so make sure the sound is on and working.

Steps of Field Trip:

  • Enter the house and click to open the bookcase to reveal the secret apartment.
  • Ask students which rooms they would like to view first.
  • Once inside a room, ask students for their first impressions. Click the screen to show the space rendered with furniture and belongings. This will help students feel how small the space is.
  • Ask students to discuss how it might feel to live in such cramped quarters.
  • Ask students to compare and contrast Anne’s own description of the apartments with what they are seeing.
  • Continue through the apartment all the way to the attic room. Ask: Why would Anne feel the need to come up here to escape the rest of the group?
  • When the tour is complete and each room has been examined, ask students to research what happened to the residents and how Anne’s diary came to be published.

Post-Trip Discussion: Discuss students’ answers to the questions above. Ask what new things they learned from visiting the Secret Annex. Ask: Why is it important to preserve spaces like this one for people to learn about and visit? How did this tour change your understanding of The Diary of Anne Frank?

Post-Trip Homework: Ask students to perform research about the making of the website. They may also research actual images of the site and compare them to the animated renderings.

These steps are useful for any virtual field trip, whether you’re visiting the opera, an art museum, a natural history museum, the Great Barrier Reef, or the moon.

You can always modify the questions and outcomes based on what you expect students to learn. For example, at an art museum, encourage them to compare and contrast works or perform a scavenger hunt through the galleries.

A virtual field trip is an easy way to engage your students, with even less preparation needed on your part than a real field trip. Say good-bye to the permission form and boxed lunch!


Erin DyeErin Dye is Manager of Consulting Services for Green Light Professional Development. She has extensive experience creating digital materials for interactive whiteboards and iPads. She writes about technology integration and GLPD’s work in local schools.

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