As we look to the final two months of the school year we are optimistic in restarting some of the trips we paused earlier in the year. Third graders travelled to Jamestown at the end of April as a part of their study of Colonial America. Last week, kindergarteners visited Blandy Experimental Farm, while the seventh graders went on a field trip to hike the trail above Harpers Ferry.
The pandemic has caused us to hit pause on a number of our regular off-campus experiential learning opportunities. We recognize the importance of field trips from both an academic standpoint, as well as the positives of the social interactions these events bring to children.
When students leave the classroom, they see the connections between what they are learning in school and the ‘real-world’. These experiences build on source materials from the classroom and make their studies’ come to life” in meaningful ways. Field trips allow students to engage with content in a variety of ways. Students can then access the content better when they can learn from a more holistic approach. Hands-on learning experiences make concepts more memorable and deepen a child’s understanding of various concepts.
As we look to the final two months of the school year we are optimistic in revisiting some of the trips we paused earlier in the year.
Using the Natural Resources of our 90-Acre Campus
We have had to be creative in our planning and activities through this unique year. One of the ways we have continued to provide hands-on learning experiences is to utilize the natural resources of our 90-acre campus. We’ve recreated field trips and created new opportunities for students to learn surrounded by our spectacular wooded campus.
We are firm believers that students learn by doing. The sixth grade Survival Trip in particular is a great example of the value of experiential learning and cross-curricular learning. This trip combines English, history, science, and sports all in one. We know how important experiential learning is for students, so as a faculty we have tried to find creative ways to keep as many of these extracurricular activities on the schedule.
“Would we have preferred to be off-campus – sure – but I am so glad we were able to use the natural resources on our campus to make it happen for the kids.” ~Mr. Legge, Upper School Science Chair
We felt because it takes place outside in nature that we had a good chance of moving forward with it. With COVID in mind we decided to pivot and split the trip into two days.
The outdoor survival activities parallel the fiction adventure Hatchet, the first unit of study in sixth grade English. We decided to hold the first day on campus and complete the survival skills training portion on the Crocker Conservancy. It ended up being the perfect location for the activity.
The Crocker Conservancy:
We are continually using the lens of NEAL (Nature-Enhanced Approach to Learning) as we create, amend, and reflect upon our curriculum. The Crocker Conservancy adds a whole new dimension to the scope of the NEAL program, allowing for the land directly behind the school to become an outdoor laboratory for hands-on experiential learning.
The Crocker Conservancy is made up of the 47-acres located in the back of our campus. There are three main habitats on the Crocker Conservancy, including a wetland habitat, warm season grass and wild flower meadow and hardwood forests. Each unique learning space offers real-world opportunities for students to learn and discover.