“Look Faige,” said D. “Over there, those are crops!” as we ride the bus to Pierce College Farm, our field trip destination. We have been learning about farms; animals, crops, scarecrows, farmers and their jobs. D. is so proud of his observations explaining that the field he sees has rows of some type of greenery growing and then makes a similar connections to the corn maze at the pumpkin match. Our two kindergarten classes and the six teachers are off to our annual trip to the “farm.” The kinders are ready! They listen with rapt attention and curiosity to the student docents talk about the animals. They each share some personal insight and experience with these urban dwellers; five and six year old kindergarten children. They hear about the donkeys who protect the other animals from coyotes; they learn about Jersey (dairy cows) and Angus (meat cows) on the farm. They hear about shearing sheep (like getting a hair cut) and about the hens, chicks and eggs. They ask questions, they giggle when something strikes their fancy and they are delighted to be able to learn in this big open space. The learning that takes place here at the college instills trust, stamina and cooperation in the kinders. Getting ready to go on the bus J comes over and says, “Faige (Fay) I miss my mom.” As he tears up. This is all new to him. I look in his water filled eyes and I acknowledge that he misses his mom. I then reassure him that his mom will pick him up in the afternoon and she will be so excited to hear what he says about his trip. I let him know he can stay as close to me as he wants and we hold hands going on the bus. He sits close by, but then, he looks around at the vastness of the bus, the joyfulness as the children all chatter away and he is ready to Join in. We work on establishing trust, in our daily routines and in adventures as we explore the outside world. We do a lot of walking, this is a big open space and getting from point A to point B requires walking. The mornings are always easier, but then the heat sets in and the distance seems overwhelming. We hear I am tired, I am thirsty, when is it time for lunch? We once again reassure them that we will soon head back to the bus to go to the Pumpkin Patch where we will have lunch. The children are building physical stamina and they are remarkable in accepting that these needs will be met shortly. This field trip shows them how much they can tolerate waiting and cooperating. They cooperate with each other, taking turns touching the cows, sheep, goats and hens. They move gently near the animals that may get skittish by sound and movement. The college students explain all of this to them; how to “be” around animals. The kinders listen and stay quiet, calm and wait their turn. It is time to leave and we show appreciation by thanking the student for taking us around the college farm and sharing their learning with us. Now we’re at the Pumpkin Patch, we eat lunch taking time to chat and enjoy the camaraderie. It is a relaxing lunch for them, but with an eye on the time, we hurry them along. Time for our hayride, to go through the field of pumpkins and pick one to take home. We gently but firmly remind them that they need to find a pumpkin they can hold. That will be their responsibility, another opportunity to build stamina. We board the bus; many tired but happy kinders. Buckled in, they chatter away, holding their pumpkins as we head back to school. It is snack time and we have the popcorn we did not eat on our trip. We listen to their conversations as they discuss their favorite part of the trip and what they will do with their pumpkins. It is dismissal and the excitement is palpable. “Look, look what I have in my backpack. It’s a surprise, it’s my pumpkin!” One after another I hear them exclaim to their parents and to the other people who pick them up. Now it is time for the teachers to unwind. A successful field trip. A nice culmination for our unit of study about the farm. We know that the discussion will continue as the kinders ask more questions. We will regroup and reflect about our trip over the coming days. But for now the pumpkins are being carved and the Jack o’ lanterns bring them to Halloween.
What have been some of your experiences taking young children on field trips?