Well, this is the PERFECT week to write about field trips, which coincidentally is the next chapter in our book study, Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites.
What teacher doesn't love a good field trip? Well, okay, maybe not the hour each way on the school bus, but even that can be fun if you get your kids singing. Even just watching their excited faces can be fun, don't you think?
In my opinion, the learning potential of a field trip is unbeatable.
The author Marcia Tate has a very inclusive list of the ways that field trips help our students learn.
Each chapter in this book includes a section of quotes, "The Theoretical Framework". My favorite in this chapter:
"Enhancing higher-order thinking skills, refining observation and questioning skills, and increasing the confidence and attitude of students are all benefits of field trips." (Davis, 2002)
That's a good one to keep in your back pocket the next time an administrator asks you to justify the expense of a field trip!
Here's why this is the perfect week for me to write this post. I'd like to share with you today some of the ways "field trips" have floated through my life in the past week, and how they relate to what I read in this chapter.
My husband and I had the opportunity to hear a presentation by a local historian this week. A lifelong resident, his presentation included a picture of the one-room schoolhouse he attended. Then he showed us a picture of the farm that used to be across the street from it. "We went there on a field trip," he said. "It was the only field trip I ever went on. We walked across the street. I still remember it." This man is nearly eighty years old and still fondly remembers this field trip.
Field trips create lasting memories. They are significant events in a student's life.
The second way field trips touched my life this week was through a mini-vacation we took with our daughter, son-in-law, and their three children. Our grandchildren are 3, 5, and 7, and are homeschooled. We spent three days in Lancaster, PA. One of the big highlights for the kids, of course, was swimming in the hotel pool every day, but each day we also went some place interesting, little homeschool field trips, you might say.
One day, we went to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. A phenomenal learning experience, this museum is like a huge terminal (over 100,000 square feet inside and out) where you can wander around among more than 100 locomotives and cars. There are docents positioned in and near some of the equipment, but you can also self-tour via the info kiosks or QR codes. Look at these photos - so much potential for math learning!
Can't get to this museum for your field trip? Your students can see more here, and the site is loaded with lots more info for your students.
Our second "field trip" was to the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Factory in Lititz. The children had some schema for this, since they're big fans of Mr. Rogers and one of his wonderful trips was to a pretzel factory. (Just as an aside, you can take your class on some of his classic trips here at PBS kids. There's even a visit with Eric Carle!) Picture their faces when, after a few moments of looking around, they realized that this was THE pretzel factory where the one-and-only Mr. Rogers had filmed the episode!
Field trips take on new meaning when you provide your students with prior knowledge.
The pretzel factory was a hands-on experience...
Field trips, like lessons in class, become more meaningful when active learning is part of the experience.
If you read my post a week or two ago, you know that E, who's five years old, is a huge fan of Legos.
So here's what happened after the pretzel facory.
Your students will continue to apply their learning after a field trip.
Whether your field trip is to the Smithsonian or your school yard, here's a way for you to help your little learners consolidate their learning afterwards. If you can find a few minutes for your students to complete these when you get back to the classroom, this is a handy tool to send to your families to help them continue the conversation when their child gets home. Click here to download.
Thanks to DeeDee Wills, who's hosting the linky for this chapter. Visit her blog to connect with lots of other bloggers who are sharing their *Aha!* moments about field trips! Please share here, too! What's the best field trip you've ever taken your class on?