Since starting kindergarten in New Jersey, I always looked forward to traveling on educational trips like my older brother. He was 5 years older than me, so he always got to go on these great trips to Philadelphia, New York City, Baltimore, Gettysburg, and Washington DC – and I was always too young. When he would get home I would always quiz him on his adventures: what was there? Who’d they learn about?
“Travel, in the younger sort,
is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.” –Francis Bacon
Since starting kindergarten in
New Jersey, I always looked forward to traveling on educational trips like my
older brother. He was 5 years older than me, so he always got to go on these
great trips to Philadelphia, New York City, Baltimore, Gettysburg, and
Washington DC – and I was always too young. When he would get home I would
always quiz him on his adventures: what was there? Who’d they learn about?
I finally made it to fifth
grade and got my trip to Philadelphia and it was a transforming moment of my
childhood. It was also full of fun travel memories like one bus breaking down,
and being upset that we couldn't just take off and leave the one bus, or squish
everyone on the remaining buses (already trying to decipher forecasting and
layout issues!). I just wanted my time to explore…and it was finally my turn to
see all the places my brother had told me about. I got my opportunity and it
whet my appetite for more. When we returned to the school, I couldn't wait for
the next year to plan for whatever NEW excursion 6th grade would
But alas, we ended up moving
out of state before the new year began. All I could think about was that I hadn't gotten the chance to go to DC! We had just finished US History – I just
HAD to got to DC. I wanted to know how the non-state functioned, what made it a
better place for a capitol over Philadelphia, New York or even Boston? Where
did George Washington live if he didn't live in the White House? Would I get my chance to explore and obtain the out-of classroom
experience I sought after?
“The World is a book, and those
who do not travel read only a page.” –St. Augustine
I truly believe that traveling
is an educational tool for teachers. You can show pictures, movies, and
articles to students but so much more is absorbed when you see it
yourself. Ask me about the test or
history lesson I had learned my fifth grade year and I have nothing to
share. If you want to talk to me about
our trip to Philadelphia, I can tell you about the Liberty Bell, Independence
Hall, seeing the Constitution, Betsy Ross’s House, the Mint, Ben Franklin
Museum, U.S.S. New Jersey, where Washington crossed the Delaware, etc. I am a visual learner therefore it all
clicked after seeing it. I struggled all
year but after we got back I was able to participate more with the class and
felt confident that I understood our lessons.
To this day, I have a love for the city of brotherly love. When I eat a soft pretzel, I can picture my
fifth grade self, outside Independence Hall.
When I see a white feather, I think about the ink bottles and wooden
desk as our forefathers drafted our government.
This summer, I passed the
educational travel passion onto my own kindergartner. We traveled up to Gettysburg. This past July marked the 150th
anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg and Lincoln’s address in November. My spouse is in the military, so we were able
to show Julia, our daughter, the difference between his uniform and what the
Union and Confederate soldiers wore. I
read once that if you give a child an object to find when in a museum it will
keep them interested no matter the age.
We would have her count how many cannons she saw on the battlefield. While watching the cyclorama, we had her try
to count the horses. When we ate at the
Dobbin House we took a break to explore how it provided to the “underground
railroad” and contributed as one of the hospitals. Shriver’s story had us enter the life of two
civilian little girls during the war. We
were able to relate to Sadie and Mollie Shriver and their daily life, especially
since one of them was five years old! From
the simple games and dolls or how they helped mom cook. We learned about how the people brought their
crops to the center of the market square, which Julia thought is funny because
it is a circle! How people would walk or used their horses to get around town,
some of the locations are far away for walking.
“The things taught in
colleges and schools are not an education, but the means of education” --Ralph Waldo Emerson.
a few days at Gettysburg, we traveled up to Hershey. “Where they have kisses as lights!” Julia.
We wanted to explore Hershey’s Chocolate World and Hersheypark. We found out Julia was a Reese’s because a child’s
height is measured by being a Miniatures, Kisses, Reese’s, Hershey, Twizzler,
or Jolly Rancher based on grids throughout the park. As much as she tried to stretch she was not a
Twizzler. We found this a fun way to
read the map and explore the park. Also,
Hersheypark has a family finder program.
It is simple and one of the best programs I have seen. All you have to do is go up to their
hospitality desk ask for a wristband, write your cell phone number on the
inside, and attach wristband to your child.
If you become separated, one of the team members will be able to call
few weeks after the trip my cousin got a new puppy and named it Lincoln. My daughter, said “like the person from
Gettysburg!” We smiled because even
though she is young she was able to relate to the experiences. She asked questions and we answered. Soon, we hope she will learn more about his
life but for now Lincoln the puppy is like the man from Gettysburg. The most important thing was to get her
involved and engaged in the trip.
“I am not a teacher; only a
fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead–ahead of myself as
well as of you.” --George Bernard
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