Students of all ages are fascinated by animals! Aquariums, farms and zoos give children and families the chance to learn about animals and discover new things! Due to the pandemic, many of these facilities are not open for in-person visits. However, they have established some incredible (and free!) virtual experiences and programs! Here are just a few of the many animal virtual field trips that exist!
This website is the perfect place to go for an underwater adventure! Ripley’s has provided links to a variety of webcams, which means that children can watch sharks and jellyfish swim from the comfort of home. The website even provides helpful resources like scavenger hunt pages. These can be printed out and used to identify different creatures! There are six live stream options, along with free educational activities for teachers, students and parents.
Extension: Encourage your child to create one of the many crafts featured on the website. There are also several engaging science experiments to try out, including a lava lamp activity!
Like Ripley’s, the Georgia Aquarium has a wide range of live webcams available on their website. Children (and adults) will be captivated by animals like penguins, beluga whales and sea lions! If you would like to take a closer look at the underwater plants and creatures, there are also several virtual photo galleries to explore! Additionally, the aquarium has released more than 20 “Deep Sea Learning” videos, which focus on topics such as ocean conservation and animal behaviour.
Extension: Use the aquarium’s online Animal Guide to learn a variety of animal facts. Spend some time researching an animal your child finds particularly interesting!
Farm Food 360
This phenomenal website gives children the chance to take a trip to the farm… from home! There are many different virtual tours to discover, including tours of sheep, dairy cow and egg farms. Each 360 degree video is accompanied by fun facts about Canadian farming processes and practices. In addition to animal videos, there are also tours of grain and oat farms and an apple orchard!
Extension: The Farm & Food Care website provides many free extension activities. There are printable fact sheets, educational videos and other resources. Your child can even enter this awesome Creativity Contest by writing and drawing about farming and farm animals!
San Diego Zoo Kids
The San Diego Zoo has an entire website dedicated to its youngest visitors: kids! There are more than 10 live cams of animals, including giraffes, elephants, koalas and baboons! Additionally, there are pre-recorded videos about other animals and their habitats. This website also has an extensive story section and a virtual game component. By playing the games the zoo offers, children can go on a safari adventure or a plunge with the polar bears. There is even an activity section with creative crafts, fun colouring pages and epic science experiments for kids to try out!
Extension: Use the San Diego Zoo’s Animals and Plants website to learn more about specific creatures, plants and habitats. You will find information about everything from diet to conservation, and the images are absolutely incredible!
The Cornell Lab: All About Birds!
This website is like a one-stop shop for all things birds! There are live cams of birds from all over the world, including hawks, condors and owls. There is also a collection of video highlights to go along with each live cam, which means that you and your child can witness the birds’ most exciting moments!
Extension: Play the Bird Song Hero game to learn more about the sounds and songs of many types of birds. You could also try to identify birds and their songs while walking in your neighbourhood or a nearby trail.
Discovery Education: Tundra Connections
Tundra Connections gives children the chance to learn about polar bears and their migration. The Discovery Education team has put together an interesting and informative video about polar bears and the Arctic ecosystem. The video was streamed live from Churchill, Manitoba in November 2019 and is still available to view for free. There are also some Q&A videos, in which experts answer the questions that kids most commonly have about polar bears.