Fourth grade students headed out onto the Crocker Conservancy for an engaging cross-curricular activity called Explorer Day that connects their study of European explorers and map skills in social studies with their Crocker Friday nature activities. The students also read Pedro’s Journal. This story is written from the perspective of a shipboy on Columbus’ first voyage.
Students were put into small groups of three to four students and given a wagon to traverse the Crocker. Each group was transformed into sailors and their wagon became their ship as they traveled to the New World.
Ships visited multiple stations spread out across the Crocker Conservancy. Each station had an activity for the sailors to do; including a shipwreck, trading with indigenous populations for food, the crew gets sick with scurvy and a storm that blows the ship off course. The sailors receive new supplies at each station. At each station the sailors answer questions about each experience asked by our team of parent volunteers and then need to complete an activity challenge.
At the end of the experience they all stumbled upon the GOLD left at the end of the trip. They then discussed their adventures and spent time writing and reflecting about the experience. The goal of this activity was for students to have more understanding about the life and hardships of the sailors. “The activity reflected many of the problems faced by Pedro in the book. I also wanted students to review the importance of trade with the New World. Explorers were searching for gold, God or glory,” commented Mrs. Genay, a fourth grade teacher.
A BIG thank you to our parent volunteers that helped make this activity possible!
Worm charming, monkey brain racing, nature hikes, and bonfires. Pawpaw planting, Seed ball spreading, foraging for osage oranges and conquering the whale watch. Every Friday this fall, our lower school students have spent dedicated time on the Crocker Conservancy, growing friendships, learning about connections in nature, and exploring the wild side of campus.
Powhatan has long embraced outdoor learning in an approach we call NEAL, or Nature Enhanced Approach to Learning. We use it to bring our students outside into the natural world and to bring the natural world indoors to our students. Science, creative writing, art, and social studies all lend themselves to robust authentic learning experiences through the use of our natural resources around campus.
Our Crocker Fridays started with the goal of scheduling a minimum of one outdoor class each week for every grade level in our lower school. Our goal wasn’t just fun; many studies have shown that outdoor education and play support children’s emotional, behavioral, and intellectual development. Outdoor learning has been shown to boost development of empathy, self-confidence, independence, and problem-solving skills.
By setting aside dedicated instructional time each week, we are able to get every Lower School student out to the Crocker Conservancy regularly. Lessons range from team-building activities on our new low-ropes course to wildlife studies, nature journaling, navigating with a compass, and exploring plant life traditionally used by Native Americans.
~Ms. Coutts, Lower School Science Teacher & NEAL Coordinator