Field Trip Fun in Downtown StL

We are lucky to be able to take field trips–pretty much to anywhere we want to go!  This year our team was trying to think outside-the-box a little more than usual, planning for field studies that not only connect to our 2nd grade curriculum, but that are important experiences for all kids to have in general.  We’ve thrown out some amazing ideas, and this fall we ended up with a trip that I’m pretty sure no one had ever gone on before. It was related to our study of economics, and was loads of fun, too. 🙂

Mrs. Driscoll worked it out for us to be able to visit the Federal Reserve Bank (and I hate to admit I didn’t even know we had one in our city!), as well as the Old Courthouse, which is a great historical building to visit.  But wait–the best part (or at least the fancy-schmanciest part) is that we got to eat lunch in a hotel ballroom!  Yep–she worked hard to secure a venue that would accommodate us no matter what St. Louis fall weather would throw at us–and we ended up being welcomed by the Crowne Plaza hotel, which was right across the street from both of the places we were visiting.  And yes, it was a lucky find–by the time it was time for lunch it was pouring down rain!  Way to go, Mrs. Driscoll, and thanks Crowne Plaza!

One more picture:


Look! Ava got to have both of her parents on our trip–Mom came along as a chaperone, and Dad works at the Federal Reserve Bank and got to join us for lunch! He was working that day and planned it so he could be on duty when we visited the museum at the bank.  What a special surprise!

We learned much, laughed a lot and had a great time!

First Grade to the Zoo!

This is the first year I’ve taken kids to the zoo in the fall.  And you know, I wonder why we’ve never done it before!?  Who needs to be there in May when it’s hot and ALL of the other teachers around town also have the idea of going to the zoo during their animal unit?  We had the idea to go now, when we thought we’d have a chance for good weather as well as a chance to front-load our kiddos with information for when we do study animals later this year.  We tried it last year in 5th grade for our study on the Cahokians (went to Cahokia Mounds BEFORE the unit instead of after!) and it was great!  Once we got into the unit, there were so many times where we could tie our conversations to specific experiences we knew that all of our learners had been a part of.  This made the connections they created even more powerful!

That being said, we knew it this would be a great idea, and THANKFULLY we got one of those sunny, crisp and cool kind of all days instead of one of those St. Louis fall days that are cold, rainy and dreary!  Our kids were excited, we had loads of helpful parents and we were on our way!

Our kiddos went with a job–to take the temperature of certain places in the zoo and record the time as well as the temperature.  This would tie to the work in our Matter & Energy unit where they are expected to know how to do just this thing.  They decided on the places we’d record, as well, which made this an even more meaningful task.

Thanks to Mrs. Ross, Ms. Branco and Mrs. Buesching (plus a few of my own!) I have LOADS of pictures to share with you.  While I should probably caption every last one of them, I am just going to show them all to you here in a fabulous slide show.  It’s really hard not to smile when you see how stinking cute all the kids–and the animals–are!

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Just one more thing…I asked everyone what their favorite thing about the trip was and here’s what they said.  Priceless answers 🙂 :

Charlie: “Being in Landen’s group!”

Landen: “The picture I took with the bear!”

Amelia: “When I saw the giraffes…”

Makayla: “The elephants.”

Sara: “Seeing the zebras and being with my friends.”

JKB: “Penguins.”

Lauren: “We joined up with another group and spent time with our friends and took pictures together!”

Ava: “Elephant poop.”

Kylie: “The seal tunnel.”

C.J.: “Seeing the tigers, lions, giraffes, and zebras.”

Emily: “The reptile house.”

Millie: “We saw the seal show before lunch!”

Ella Marie: “The log with snake eggs and the zebras.”

Nate: “When we saw an eagle.”

Jacob: “I ate a second lunch.”

Peyton: “I got to stand by an eagle.”

Thomas: “Lions!”

Diego: “Lions!”

We had a great time and learned a ton!  I’m excited to see how this learning connects with our animal study that comes this Spring. 🙂  THANK YOU to the parents who helped make this happen!  What a fun day at one of the best zoos in the country! 🙂

Cahokia Mounds Trip 2013

Last year we went to Cahokia Mounds as a 5th grade field trip that connected to our study of Native Americans.  We had a great time, and were able to connect many things we had learned to what we saw there.  But last year we went AFTER our study.

And this year, we (well, Mrs. Hong really) had the idea that we go BEFORE our study, as a way to build background knowledge.  GENIUS idea!

So we planned our journey for early in September instead of later, and also figured out a way to make the trip better in another way: kids had a job to do.  And they got to take their iPads with them to do it!

Here was the message waiting for them in their inbox that morning:

Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 9.18.39 PMSo we packed up ourselves and our iPads and headed out.

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What a fun day we had learning, walking and climbing mounds together. 🙂  And wow–I’ve already seen friends making connections between what they saw on that day and what we’re reading about in class.  SO glad we decided to go there first.

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The project we gave them to do worked out really well to keep everyone engaged in learning, even in an unstructured setting like a field trip!  AND everyone’s iPad came back in one piece. 🙂  Here are some highlights from the Pic Collage projects they made to show their answer to the EQ “What is a community?”.

Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 9.39.05 PM Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 9.39.26 PM Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 9.39.44 PM Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 9.39.59 PM Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 9.40.21 PM Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 9.40.35 PM Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 9.40.45 PM Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 9.41.09 PMWhat’s even better, is that this was an assessment for what our friends had learned during all of our work on building community in our classroom.  And here I thought it was a pre-assessment/schema building activity for Cahokia!  Don’t you love two-birds-one-stone kinds of assignments? 🙂


Feast Week Part 5: Let’s Go Shopping!

Hopefully if you’re here, then you’ve been along for the first parts of the journey, but if not, you can catch up on the beginning of Feast Week, the fractions involved, the meal planning, and the way our plan was derailed before I go on.  It’s been quite a journey already, that’s for sure!

After we had figured out exactly what we would finally buy, we had to decide where to shop and then head there to get what we needed.  Part of the job after they totaled up their appetizer cost was to determine whether it was a better idea to shop at Schnucks or Dierbergs for our ingredients.  Overwhelmingly, they decided that Schnucks was a better option for us.  And so to Schunucks we went!  Yes, you heard me right: I put 20 5th graders on a bus and took them to the grocery store.  And I did it by myself (along with Mrs. Hong and her class).  And they were great. 🙂

IMG655I wonder how many people were confused by the sight of a school bus at the grocery store!

We started by having a quick grocery store overview lesson–we talked about the general area where everything was, talked about the expectations (which were the same as at school!) and made a place to meet when we were finished.  And then they set off with their shopping lists to get what they needed.

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While they shopped I ran around wandered around the store to make sure everyone was doing ok (remember, this was the week before Christmas–the place was a madhouse!) and finding what they needed.  I cannot even tell you how proud I am of these kids.  Completely on their own, they maneuvered a really large store, politely made their way through crowds and even made smart shopping decisions–everything we bought was on sale!  We were all finished and back to our meeting spot in just about half an hour, which was record time, I think!


Our original budget was around $97, and we made it out of there even under by a few dollars!  We spent right around $94, and like I mentioned before, EVERYTHING they chose was on sale.  The best part to me was when a group figured out that it was more cost effective to buy bags of 4 avocados that were 2/$5 than individually at 10/$10.  That’s some savvy shopping!

IMG658Check out that receipt!  My favorite part is at the bottom: “YOU SAVED $35.97.” Nice!

IMG656Congrats on a job well done, 5th graders!  You are grocery store superstars!

Next step–Part 6: Now We Cook!

Cahokia Mounds!

On Friday, we took a 5th Grade Field Trip to Cahokia Mounds!  Remember how we had just had a Social Studies unit on Mental Models and the Mississippians at Cahokia?  Well we topped it off with a trip to visit the site, since it’s just a short bus ride from our school.
Probably best to tell about it with some pictures!

This must be our bus–it’s #202! That’s the same as our classroom! It seems that that number is everywhere lately. It was the room number in two of the last chapter books we read, and now on our bus. Funny.

Getting on the bus. Jack’s excited, can you tell?

We arrive at Cahokia! The weather ended up being about 50 degrees, windy and rainy. Not what we had expected earlier in the week, but we survived. At least it wasn’t 90 degrees outside–which it very well could have been! This was better, even if we were a bit chilly and wet.

See that? It’s Monk’s Mound! We learned all about it during our study, and now we were going to be able to climb to the top! Talk about history in action!

View from the top: way in the distance you can see the St. Louis Arch. Maybe. If you squint. I promise, it’s there.

Inside, at the interpretive center, there was a museum with many artifacts (or replicas of them) that we had talked about during our study. Again, how cool to see what we had read and talked about. Here are some examples of chunkey stones, which are from a game that the Cahokians played. Many chunkey stones were found in the graves of important people from their society.

How to Play Chunkey. In case you were wondering.

Model of an archeological dig

We studied this pot during our unit. It looks like an ordinary pot, but the fact that it has a face on it is important. This meant that they must have had time for art–to make things pretty, not just practical. This tied to the fact that the Cahokians must have had a surplus of food; hungry people don’t take time out for “extra” stuff like this.

Exhibit that showed all that the Cahokians farmed and grew in their city. Some of us were surprised that they were farmers. Many had the mental model that Native Americans were only hunters who ate buffalo.

Mrs. McChesney’s group shot from the top of Monk’s Mound

Thanks, Mrs. Edwards, for being a chaperone! Your group had a great time, I’m sure.

Mrs. Cseri and her group outside. They look warm and cozy, don’t they, even though it was wet and chilly out there!

Mr. Browning with his group in the museum. Again–they look like they’re having a great time learning on this trip!

Before we went back to school, we had a picnic lunch. Yep, outside. In the wind and cold. These kids have never eaten so fast!

Headed back to the nice, warm bus. 🙂

Despite the less-than-perfect weather, we had a great day!  We’re lucky to be able to get to see examples of the things we read about in our books.  This personal experience made much of it make a lot more sense, and it is solidified for us, now.  Thanks to all the adults who made this day possible for us!

We had a great day at Cahokia.  Have you ever been there?  What did you like?  What did you learn?  What other field trips have you gone on?  Leave us a comment and tell us about it!