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!