Study Trips

Sunday, September 8, 2013

In our district, we are allowed four study trips each year.  While that may sound like a lot, my grade level was disappointed about the restriction, because we have five trips that we like to take.  My building has only been open five years, and the first few years, we hosted an event that now happens off site, so we USED to be able to have all five experiences, but now, we’re down to four.  However, I’m going to list all five for you in this post.

As fifth grade teachers, we like our kids to have special experiences that the other kids in the school look forward to.  The younger kids hear about our experiences and come to fifth grade excited to participate in the things they had watch “the big kids” doing in previous years.  Our favorite five experiences are:
  • Camp S.O.L.E.
  • JA BizTown
  • The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village
  • Marengo Cave
  • We the People  
Camp S.O.L.E.
Camp S.O.L.E. is an event that happens every September.  We take the kids on a two day (yes, that means one night!) camping trip with a science focus.  S.O.L.E. stands for Science Outdoor Learning Experience, and what an experience it is!  The kids go through five different classes at camp including: tree and leaf identification, pond water study, initiative games, Star Lab (which is a portable planetarium), and orienteering.  They also have recreation time during which they have the opportunity to play kickball, basketball, volleyball, and go canoeing or kayaking.  We tie everything together with a huge (12 paragraph) writing project at the conclusion of camp.

JA BizTown
Junior Achievement has a great program in their BizTown curriculum!  We teach lessons on personal finance, writing checks, how to balance a checkbook, and how to get a job for several weeks before this trip.  Then, on the simulation day, we take the kids to the local JA building and they run a city for a day.  It’s a really cool program, and the kids love it!

The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village
While we don’t go to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village anymore, it is definitely worth talking about!  The museum and the village are two parts of The Henry Ford (more information is available here).  We always had our kids spend the morning at the Village, where they could explore TONS of houses including: Noah Webster’s house, the Wright Brothers’ workshop, and Thomas Edison’s workshop.  It was an incredible experience, and since we went in October, the whole village was usually decorated for Halloween, which made it even more fun.
After a morning outside, we spent the afternoon in the Henry Ford Museum discovering amazing things among their collection.  They have Rosa Parks’s bus, George Washington’s camp bed, a copy of the 13th amendment, the chair Lincoln was sitting in when he was assassinated, an entire collection of presidential vehicles, and of course, what Americana collection would be complete without the Weinermobile.  They even have Edison’s last breath captured in a test tube.  The kids loved this trip, but when we learned that we had to eliminate one, this was what went.

Marengo Cave
This is probably our most popular trip!  The Wednesday before Spring Break, we take our kids to Marengo Cave in southern Indiana for a day of spelunking.  The kids explore two commercial caves and one wild cave on this (very) long day.  (We leave school at 5am and get back at about 9pm)

The favorite part of this trip is always the Underground Adventure (a.k.a. the wild cave).  During this part of the trip, the kids wear caving helmets and crawl through a wild cave.  That means mud and water and crawling and darkness and bats all tied up into one amazing experience.  I’ve been four times now, and I still love going!

We the People  
While caving is a crowd favorite, We the People is my baby.  We start the WTP curriculum in January and continue through until the hearings in May.  We the People teaches concepts about the American government, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights to kids, but the best part of the program is the culminating activity.  The kids participate in mock congressional hearings in May.  They prepare written statements and practice follow up questions before going to the actual hearings.  The judges for the hearings are lawyers, business people, and other leaders from the community, and the kids love showing what they have learned to these important people.

Thanks for sticking around for such a long post!  What kinds of trips do you take with your kids?


Bethany Hunter said...

That cave trip looks awesome, but I can't imagine leaving school at 5am! I take my kiddos to our state capital, Harrisburg. We also go on an overnight camping trip. It's a lot of fun. I'm your newest follower!

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