Field trip a 'springboard' for writing, science

Friday, October 12, 2007
Olivia Beasley and Tyler Helm searched for the right pumpkin to take home while on a field trip Thursday with kindergarten students from Blanchard Elementary School at Beggs Family Farm near Blodgett, Mo.
(Fred Lynch)

Some of the children had never ridden a school bus before. Others asked kindergarten teacher Mary Ann Lewis if the llamas in the petting zoo area were statues. Hayleigh Biggerstaff had never picked a pumpkin from a vine.

"Did you know you can eat the seeds?" Hayleigh asked.

When released to select the perfect pumpkin, 68 Blanchard Elementary kindergartners, on a field trip to Beggs Pumpkin Patch near Blodgett, Mo., scampered into the field, inspecting, touching, dismissing.

Most could not articulate what exactly factored into their decision of which one to take home.

"It's kind of heavy," Hayleigh said of hers.

"Mine's almost clean," Lyvia Ford said.

Keshawn Sanders wanted a big one without any "black stuff."

Back in the classroom, students will see if pumpkins sink or float, talk about how much one weighs, calculate the pumpkin's circumference and count the number of seeds inside. Before the trip they read stories about going to a pumpkin patch and compared it to apple picking.

The field trip, while fun, provided the students with life experiences and expanded their vocabulary, teachers said. "There's nothing like getting out of the classroom and getting to see it firsthand," Lewis said. "This is a springboard for writing and science. They talk about this for the rest of the year."

Teacher Kaye Hathhorn estimated 75 percent of the students had never been to a farm before.

"Whenever we go on field trips, we make sure they come back with a bank of words that were previously unknown to them. The first-graders go to the fair. We were all laughing because they knew the word manure," principal Dr. Barbara Kohlfeld said.

Students across the district are gearing up for field trips of their own. A group of fifth-graders will go to the public library next week for a poetry presentation. At the end of the month they will visit the Conservation Campus Nature Center. Every spring, fourth-graders take a trip to Jefferson City. Kindergartners at Alma Schrader recently went to an apple orchard.

About two years ago, rising fuel costs caused area districts to scale back on field trips. Jackson implemented a policy that limited every grade to one field trip a year within a 50-mile radius. That policy is still in place, said assistant superintendent Dr. Rita Fisher. She said field trips are provided at no expense to students.

In Cape Girardeau, students are charged a small fee to cover transportation costs and teachers try to pick locations or events that are free, such as the library or the conservation center. At the middle school, teachers and the PTA are selling water and Gatorade during lunch to raise money for buses for upcoming trips.

335-3311, extension 123

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