Somehow we made it through all of October without doing hardly any field trips and none that were just us. We did have a couple of things planned that fell through due to illness, but really, it was just inexcusable.
It’s hard sometimes to balance the need to be home and get stuff done with the need to be engaged and spontaneous out in the world. If I wanted my kids’ education to be only book work and occasional projects all proscribed by a teacher, I could have sent them to school. But doing that book work and putting in the time on those fundamental skills is important too. I posted before about how “fourth grade” felt like a watershed to me, about how I feel like we need to be putting in our time on those skills. However, that doesn’t mean that learning has to become flat and dry or that we can’t still get a lot out of being expeditionary learners.
With that in mind, we finally made it out last week. Morning work had to work with our listening book, The Calder Game. The book proposes a sort of game where you think of things in fives – objects, pictures, words, ideas, anything. So we’ve played around with drawing and then writing little five word poems or five word ideas.
Once we were all dressed and ready, we headed out to do Panera School, just checking off math, spelling and a book for science. Then we headed to the National Gallery with little sketch books. We wandered through leisurely then spent a long time in the Calder Room sketching and watching everything move. Do you know, it’s actually fun to sketch a slowly moving mobile.
It was fun to see the other museum goers peer over the kids’ shoulders at their tiny sketch books to see what they were up to while the kids were intently looking and drawing.
Afterwards, we headed home, full of art and happiness. The kids were so thrilled by the day and the field trip that they really shamed me into remembering how completely essential it is to get outside, to do things other than just the stuff that looks like schoolwork. It is a balance, with all the parts of our education hanging together like one of the Calder mobiles we drew.