One of the fondest memories of this writer was a bus ride to a forest area outside of Houston. It was a field trip taken in elementary school. Special memories of every step walked along those colorful, leafy footpaths evoke happy sentiments. The smell of the soil and plants still alive in the senses, even what the guide had said. This writer will guarantee to anyone that school trips are the best way to create knowledge that will be long-lasting. What better way, therefore, to teach so many wonders of nature than on a trip to a farm?
Modern day society is submerged amidst traffic noise, machine sounds and everything comes about through the touch of a button. This may be modern-day norm but can one honestly say that it is normal? Man was meant to be a part of nature, for the human being is a part of nature. The sooner youngsters are associated with and understand the functions of plants and animals, the more responsible adults they will turn out to be.
Plants & nature
Being outdoors rejuvenates the soul and creates the ideal atmosphere for learning subjects that deal with the sciences. While this is a practice associated more easily with elementary school students, it is ideal for all ages. A part of nature, man has the innate need to be near it. Thus, when among trees and plants, everyone is at peace. In such surroundings, children may be taught about how the trees and plants surrounding them grow, how photosynthesis occurs, how oxygen is emitted into the atmosphere and how everything is interdependent. Being outdoors encompasses ideal learning for the kinesthetic learner, the visual learner but is good for the auditory learner as well.
When out in the farm’s field, the teacher may ask one group of students to observe the course of ants: where they go and what they do. This may be then written down on paper and presented the next day to the class.
Another group may be given binoculars to seek out the various birds in the area. A description of the ones spotted should be written down and then in school or at home through the help of books or a computer, the group should decide the species of the birds and find further information about their life habits.
A third group may be assigned the task of distinguishing the variety of plant life. With the permission of the owner, samples of the plants may be taken (a leaf or two) and research be done in the library. Perhaps the group would like to ask the farmer to elaborate on a few.
They would be acting as the modern day Darwins, observing nature.
Animals & crops
Nothing can be more exciting than being near animals. The children will have the opportunity to be near animals they otherwise would not have the chance to see; from the smallest hen to the noblest horse. With the farmer’s permission, a demonstration of milking the cow, feeding the farm animals and the upkeep of the barn may be shown to the class. This would bring about a greater appreciation of a farmer’s job and the importance of animals. After all, it is necessary for children to learn that certain animals (if not all) have the need to be with other animals close to their own habitats and not kept inside a home as a pet.
Here groups may be assigned to interview the farmer (if possible) and enquire about the needs of each animal. Then they may write about the care that each animal requires, the feeding habits and what they eat, what they produce and how soon people must consume it. In this process, the students will also learn how demanding such work is.
In retrospect, visiting a farm would make for better understanding of nature in all aspects. And since children learn and retain what they learn when excited and happy, visiting a farm would be an experience by which they will gain valuable knowledge and one which the entire class will cherish for years to come.