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May 11, 2009

Field "Experience"

Last Wednesday, we had the wonderful opportunity to take a field trip to an indoor playground in a neighboring town.  When you live in a place like Minnesota where it seems like spring will never come, you have to do what you can to get moving!  Thankfully, our special education department was interested in coming with us and, therefore, we could save on the cost of busing and admission. 


First of all, we had a great day, with no major incidents!  Everyone remembered our rules, played safely and enjoyed their time on the playground.  More importantly, this opportunity was invaluable to my students on so many levels. 


Our program is a drop-off/pick-up class.  We are not able to offer any transportation.  Because of this, for most of my students, this was their first time on a school bus.  We spent a lot of time before this trip talking about bus safety.  We made bus safety books and of course, loved singing The Wheels on the Bus.  I suggested that we make up our own verses that would help us remember the rules.  Some of my students came up with, “The people on the bus sit right down,” and “The driver on the bus says, 'Quiet, please!'” 


The opportunity to ride the bus was almost as exciting as the time at the playground!  It was also great to have a chance to ride with my students to hear their questions, fears and anticipation about kindergarten. 


I was so excited to have an hour of uninterrupted time to really PLAY with my students.  There were some big breakthroughs that I want to highlight:


Timothy is a student with a hard home life.  He is an English language learner, but he struggles even his native language.  There are times when he seems angry, withdrawn and frustrated.  It has been hard for me to get a clear picture of his skills because of these behaviors.  He had a fantastic time on our field trip!  He came to find me more than five times to show and tell me about something!  I figured during that one hour that he knows some conversational English:             

            “Karissa, come look.”

            “Help me!”

            “Play with me!”

             In addition, Timothy was able to identify the many of the colors we saw at the playground.  He labeled, “car,” “truck,” “fire truck” and “slide.” 


Now that we have been back at school, everybody likes to talk about our field trip.  Timothy often mentions the bus and all the playing he did that day.  I know that this trip was more than just a fun thing to do on a school day.  Our experience has created a shared experience that will continue to help us become an even better classroom community. 


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