10 Oct 2007

Once Upon A Time There Was a Field Trip


I Love Norwegian School - Part Four Hundred And Seventy Three

Today, in between stressing about the Thanksgiving Feast I am preparing for La Famiglia tomorrow, I managed to get out in the glorious fall weather for a field trip with B boy and his grade 2 class. Fortysome 6 and 7 year-olds, two teachers, and two volunteers walked for about 40 minutes from the school and into the woods to an idyllic three sided timber "koie" (cabin) in a clearing in the forest. Surrounding it were logs and stumps strategically placed for seating, and inside the cabin was a massive fire pit with a flap system in the roof to allow the smoke to escape upwards, and more tree stumps for seating.

The kids spent the next two hours climbing around in trees and on the logs around the cabin. Robes had been tied from tree to tree for extra balancing or swinging amusement.

Although there was a chill in the air, the sun was shining and the crackling fire we lit in the fire pit provided plenty of heat. While most of the boys fought imaginary battles on an epic scale with sticks and branches, the girls had fun gathering leaves into giant piles they could jump into.

After a while, the kids were split into a boy group and a girl group. The girls were ushered into the cabin, where one of the teachers proceeded to read the fairy tale 'Goldilocks' to them. The boys, meanwhile, sat outside on tree stumps placed in a circle, listening to their teacher reading 'The Three Little Pigs'.

They were then divided into even smaller groups and told to reenact the story they'd just heard. This caused a great deal of amusement and boisterous applause from their peers, especially among the boys who were eventually told to lower their voices, as they were drowning out all other sounds from far and wide.

Lunch time finally arrived, and the kids whipped out sausages, cheese sandwiches, and even noodles (!) to cook over the open fire. Many of them had brought nifty little telescopic BBQ tools that could be extended and used to spear their food for grilling. They also had styrofoam seating pads to protect themselves from the cool ground and thermoses with hot chocolate to keep warm.

After lunch, we collected garbage in a couple of plastic bags and put out the fire in the koie, before we headed back to civilization again. As we arrived at school, the kids had an hour left of the day, which was just enough time to write about their experiences in the forest.

It was definitely Benjamin's kind of school day! And who can blame him?

I think it's great that the school is willing to sacrifice learning time in class for experiences like this. You can't help but smile when you watch the kids running around with rosy cheeks and bubbling enthusiasm for anything the forest has to offer.

Life is going to get serious enough for these second graders soon enough, so I am all for letting them be kids for as long as possible. And I'll try not to worry if B boy hasn't mastered long division before the ripe old age of 8.

It was also one of those moments when you realize that the boys do perfectly well without their PlayStation, Wii, DS, TV and MP3 player. They don't even need a fancy destination for their field trip. A couple of sticks and a friend or two, and they can make things happen all on their own!


Cyn said...

Sounds ilke a perfect day! 4thGrader is going to one of the local sinkholes for a field trip to learn some science / nature stuff. Sounds to me like an excuse to go on a picnic, and with the weather starting to cool off a bit, I'm glad!

morag said...

I think our children used to do things like that in kindergarden. They are made to grow up way too quickly here. You right, they should send more time being kids, enjoying the outdoors and not be rushed to grow up. Looking back, will it really matter what age they were when the mastered long division.

Victoria said...

Sounds positively magical! Oh, I love those moments where Traditional Learning is replaced by Be a Kid Experiencing.

Wonderful description, Heidi. I felt like I was there and could smell the fire. =)

gmcountrymama said...

That sounds like such a fun field trip. I am confused as to why the boys and girls were separated?

Family Adventure said...

Thanks everyone. It was a great experience. I was actually dreading going, but it turned out so great.
Country Mama: I don't think there was any real thought put behind it. The boys were all playing this intricate battle game in one area, so they were just kept there when story time was commencing. The girls were thus ushered into the cabin instead. :)

Gina said...

That sounds lovely! That is exactly the kind of thing Mr. P would like as well.

ALM said...

That just sounds amazing....! I'm so jealous! What a wonderful expereince to have... in nature, learning... I'm so sick to death of the schools here & how the push the kids.

(Reminder to self - look up rules on immigration to Norway...)

Hae Yung said...

I remember school being quite strict in Korea but as soon as I got home, I remember being outside running around and making up games until dinner then back out until bedtime. We definitely use to run around alot more. I think if we can just eliminate homework we'd be fine....of course kids are all too busy with other activities, hockey, swimming, karate, spirit of math, oxford, gymnastic, skating, baseball, and so many other reasons that kids are too busy now.

linda-sands.com said...

Sounds like great fun. Something you might grumble about beforehand and then be thankful for afterwards.

ewe are here said...

Thanks for dropping by my blog!

Ahhh, the Scandinavian schools have the right idea.

My MIL is Norwegian (from Oslo originally), and she recently suggested we relocate to Norway for the boys. Ummm, but I don't speak Norwegian (although my husband does a wee bit)... so how does that work? Are you in Oslo - love Oslo - ?