Open minds and Perspective Change for 120 fifth Grade Students-
Impossible? We think NOT!
United States Air Force Academy hosted the first Evans International Pioneer Day at the Equestrian Center
Another average planning meeting, trying to allow funds to be spend wisely at the end of the year for our fifth- grade students to allow the most effective learning. We were running out of days in the school year, what should we do? Ahh, our usual trip to the Pioneers’ Museum was still open- it is free, students learn about westward expansion and life in the early years supporting our social studies unit. We only needed to pay for busses- but wait! Emilee Huff spoke up, as newly trained Movement Method teacher, she pointed out that we should teach what we preach and put on a major playdate at the United States Airforce Academy equestrian center to allow building in children’s interest, having them move, and reconnect them with nature-
Brilliant idea (ARE YOU INSANE???- a 120 fifth grade students at the barn?)
With the amazing 5th grade teaching team, of course we would take on the challenge. How to make it work?? After a hike and some think time, we developed stations. We needed smaller groups to allow for a lot of hands on experiences, and we needed to touch on standards to align and justify what we were trying to review and teach.
Station 1: Shelter building. Alexander Vern, a German exchange officer, studying the impact of equine assistant learning and sensory work on military folks, volunteered to teach students how to quickly build a basic shelter when backpacking in the mountains. Students were absolutely fascinated by how little they needed and by the techniques used to plan and manage a horseback backpacking trip.
Station 2 Meghan Newton taught students about animal adaptation, caring for animals, and the need to remove manure. Students got to brush and care for horses and getting the experience how much physical labor is included in the care for animals.
Station 3 Sue Badgett, a retired high school teacher, gave her time to introduce minis and goats and taught how to care from them. Students got to dress up the animals, feed them, and connect.
Station 4 Eli Vern from Germany, mother of a lovely kiddo not even a year old, and editor support for large German magazines, allowed students to joust and learn a little about the history of jousting and strategies how to handle a wheel barrow with a student and a jousting stick. There were lots of giggles and fascination with this very unique way of playing games.
Station 5 Melody Genzel and Tara Wiltz manned the engineering stations. Students got to design sponge boats and identify the best designs after the boat had to withstand not only a creek flow, but even a little waterfall. Discussion led by these very talented ladies brought out the analytical side in many kiddos and the eagerness to design a better boat over the summer.
Station 6 Travis Elliston, the rodeo team coach invited his rodeo cadet team captain to teach the kiddos some roping skills, and teach about the history of the diverse roping styles. Students were blown away when they got to try it first-hand. Comments like, “I want to learn more about roping”, “I want to compete one day,” were not uncommon, but the first time these children brought it up or that it crossed their mind.
Station 7 Rachel Adair and her friend and volunteer Claire Crosetti set up an obstacle course that even proved to be challenging for our vice principle who gladly competed with students to emerge in the experience. There was a lot of laughter and excellent movement to allow the brain to absorb as much of the learning that was happening as possible.
Station 8 Jess Beilharz and Layne Cerone worked the art station. Children got to work with barn made mud, choose native American symbols, to express how they felt that moment and paint it on two horses. Clue and Little Man enjoyed the extra attention and made students feel confident and accepted by standing very still but being engaged with the kids through eye contact and gentle chewing. Who ever imagined fifth graders painting horses.
Station 9 was Jeanne Springer’s westward expansion station. Students learned about the founder of the equestrian center, and got to touch the first original buildings that are still at the center today. They were fascinated by being able to touch history and eventually tried to build their own mini houses out of rocks and clay, truly understanding the challenges these first settlers faced.
What a day it has been! The students final writing assessment was an opinion piece about this fieldtrip: Write an opinion essay about the Pioneer's Day to the Air Force Academy . Success criteria are 4 paragraphs, using the writing rubric to accomplish good writing skills.
Let me just post a few of their quotes:
“ My opinion is that it is really fun and I learned alot about who made the air force ranch, even seen pictures who made it. Also many people volunteered and in my opinion they were all really nice and respectful to us. Also my emotions of the field trip is good because nature changed the way I looked at animals. I feel very good about nature now I know how nature helps us not only help us with materials but helps us live two. Also the animals are kind and are friendly so I love the field trip in my opinion. I also learned how they created the ranch and how they built the ranch out of rocks and other materials. Also how people here slamming doors and other noises from the persones ghost who created the ranch. Also I learned alot about horses and the ranch so that was pretty cool. I feel good that I went on that field trip with everyone else because it was really worthwhile. I don't know about others but I had plenty of fun. And liked feeding the goat because it was funny… Last but least in my opinion this was a great/awesome field trip ever.” (I.B)
“It is something every kid should look forward to this field trip. It was exciting, fun, and educational. Which was the best part of all of it. I’m very grateful and happy to go on the adventure we went on. And i believe, in my perspective8 that the 5th grade teachers should do this once more. I think people will love that field trip. It was the best field trip to ever happen to me. I’ve never had as much fun as i did on the field trip to the USAFA Equestrian center. “ (G. M)
“Most field trips are pretty straightforward. Our field trip to the Air Force Academy’s Equestrian Center was very enjoyable, and a bit different. Our field trip was enjoyable because we were learning in a really fun way. We got to do a lot of engineering, we built boats to be water durable, and we also constructed houses out of clay and rocks. We also got to pet animals and try some other new things. I had a wonderful time and I would love to go again.” (Z.N.)
“Most field trips are pretty straightforward. Our field trip to the Air Force Academy’s Equestrian Center was very enjoyable, and a bit different. Our field trip was enjoyable because we were learning in a realy fun way. We got to do a lot of engineering, we built boats to be water durable, and we also constructed houses out of clay and rocks. We also got to pet animals and try some other new things” (A.S.)