Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Field Trips the emergent way; difficult, but worth it!

One of the most challenging aspects of emergent curriculum’s spontaneous nature is the planning of field trips.  It is much easier to plan a trip months or even weeks in advance.  However, when you do not know the exact path that your learning journey will take you, this is not possible. 

When you are able to find a venue that will support the learning and discoveries of the children, it is well worth the effort and scrambling that will be needed to pull it off.  Here is an example of such an adventure.

My class has been interested in beds.  When we listed our wonderings, several of the children were very interested in hospital beds as they, themselves, had been in the hospital.  When they told the others about the moveable beds with all the buttons, the entire class wanted to see them move.  Thus began my quest for a hospital that would let a group of four year olds visit and would let us see, touch and “play with” a mechanical bed. 

When I tried my local hospital I was informed that they did a standard tour for first graders, and I loved this line, “hopefully they will all make it to first grade, and can come on the tour then.” Nice!

So then, I put my class parents to work.  In fact, I put a call for help out to any parent in the school who was affiliated with a hospital in any way.  People talked to neighbors, friends, etc.  They were really trying for us.  Finally, one day I received a call from a woman who was willing to let us tour the school of nursing associated with the hospital, and they had a slot available the very next day!  When she described the various beds she had to show them and the robot patient, I knew this was the trip for us.

  I didn’t want to risk waiting the three weeks for the next available slot, as by then, our learning may have taken another turn.  So I made several phone calls, gathered parent drivers together, had a few parents switch cars so we could fit more children in and we were at the school of nursing by 10am the next day. 

It was an amazing trip!  We saw many different beds; a bed that weighed patients, a bed that became a chair, a bed on wheels, a bed with weights and pulleys and a baby bed (incubator).  The nurses talked about what nurses do, let the children try many of these jobs and showed them the robot: George Cloney, who talked and breathed.

We came back to class wanting to experiment with weights and pulleys and with many nursing tips to add to the hospital that the children had been creating in the dramatic play center. 

Use your community resources, ask parents for help, be willing to be spontaneous and the learning opportunities are incredible!!


  1. I loved reading this - and I love that they are still into beds :)

  2. Kudos to you!! This makes me think of my daughter's interest in hospitals when I was expecting her baby sister. We made three excursions to hospital nurseries to look at babies, ate lunch in the cafeteria, talked about and inspected scrubs and gurneys, and collected face masks and syringes (clean and unused!). I have no doubt that her understanding of hospitals skyrocketed beyond what would have been possible with books and play acting alone.