by Mrs. Kelly and Mr. Merrill, 5th Grade Teachers
On an overcast early October morning a yellow school bus, carrying 40 eager outdoor enthusiasts and their teachers, rumbled through puddles as big a ponds to Bushy Hill Nature Center. Outside counselors greeted us by revealing that “we were one of their favorite school groups to work with” and then immediately headed us into the woods. We stepped into the world of the indigenous people who once lived on this land to learn from and look at our surroundings through the lens of a historian. We considered why people would choose this place to live and how they would survive. This study included edible and poisonous plants, constructing debris shelters, using friction as a fire starter, and braiding cordage for various uses. Time flew by as we were all engrossed in hands-on activities, and all participants headed home with mental souvenirs from this experience.
Once back on campus we circled up to debrief about our experience, considering above all, the purpose of this outdoor adventure. Our 4th and 5th Graders had to dig deeply to answer this question, which is at the heart of our Affective Education Program. Following are some of the highlights of our debrief:
- Collaboration was needed to build.
- Work with someone you don’t know and help each other to be successful.
- You may have to do something that you don’t want to do.
- Believe in yourself and trust others."
- Have FUN in the outdoors with friends.
Great life lessons to learn in our outdoor classroom!