Sunday, August 17, 2014

Get in Touch with History by Walking Around It

During the summer, most teachers I know spend at least some time planning for the next school year.  My favorite “planning” to do during the summer is field trip planning, because it means I get to tour cool places I’d like to take my students to – often with my own kids in tow.  Here are some of my favorite field trip locations, that can be found in most every community, as well as a list of content connections you can make for your students.  Often as teachers we only include field trips in our science and social studies, but there are lots of reading, writing and math connections that can be made in these locations as well.  I am going to share one type of field trip a week and ideas for making curriculum connections with each field trip.

field trips

Historical Sites: Battlefields, lighthouses, colonial homes, ancient ruins, anything of historical importance can be of great insight to students.  Seeing how things once were helps them to better understand how things once were.  My best historical site field trip had to be the Ancient Roman Ruins at Chellah, which you can read about this old blog post.

Reading: Historical fiction stories come to life when you are able to visit the places where these stories take place.  Newspaper articles – new and old – make for great reading in connection to historical sites, as do “first person accounts” of what went on in these places.  This is a great time to talk about the difference between primary and secondary sources, as well as in comparison with historical fiction based off of these events.

clip_image001Writing:  Once students have experienced the historical site, they can have a chance to write from the point of view of a person who lived or worked at this site.  Students may also write informational – newspaper articles – about the current site, OR about the site as it existed during it’s most important time period.  Taking time to write a descriptive essay that makes someone else feel as if they experienced the same field trip is also a great writing activity for historical field trips.

Math:  Using timelines is a great way to teach elapsed time.  Create a timeline of important events that happened at this location.  Have students create their own word problems based off of this timeline.  For example:  How long was it from when the castle was built until when King X moved in?

Science:  Students can explore the questions:  What materials were used to build this site?  How have they lasted as long as they have?  What types of preservation has been done? Were any archeological techniques used?

Social Studies:  Exploring the history of the area is huge, but students could also explore the time periods when this building was in its peak, the geographical and political elements that led to its creation, the elements that led to the downfall or closing of the site.  Creating a map or timeline of the site could also be beneficial.

To make field trips more educational, I often use graphic organizers and other activities to keep my students focused.  Read more about the specifics in this blog post: Field Trips Aren’t Just For Fun.  Be sure to stop by next week for another Field Trip Curriculum Connection.

What is your best field trip idea?

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources