The field work component of a project is so important to its success. Our topic gave us the opportunity to have experiences outside the classroom as much as we liked because the Sonian Forest was right outside of our door.
Throughout the fall, we went to the forest every Thursday morning for one and a half hours. In November, I began taking the children out two additional times each week in small groups for one hour. After an initial period of exploring the different places we could go, we began to stop each time to do observational drawings. The children drew what they saw in their journals using black felt tip pens.
Because we were able to go to a pond, an apple orchard, a playground, a beaver dam, and mud puddles all of the time, the topics were always fresh and exciting.
As interest veered towards bats, we called in an expert: an outdoor education teacher on campus. She took us through the forest one Wednesday and showed us all of the bat houses that had been installed be older students, as bats are an endangered species in Brussels. We were able to use her binoculars to look up at birds' nests as well.
There was a portion of the path that was always muddy, and the children definitely became interested in mud, especially the noises our shoes make in it.
Our forest adventures were well documented with photos, drawings, and video. The children saw all of that documentation, which helped keep them connected to the topic on all of those days when going to the forest was not possible. This also allowed us to make a smooth transition to our hands-on work in the classroom.
I'll be back soon with details about the hands-on work we did in the classroom, and then with how we celebrated our work and finished our project.