Friday we took a field trip into Washington, D.C. The original plan had been to walk around the Tidal Basin, as we’ve done for the past two years. Sadly, due to some insane rains earlier in the week, the Tidal Basin was flooded and we had to make a last minute change. We ended up at Smithsonian’s Museum of National History (a museum I love). So there wasn’t a lot of time to prep kids for this trip (as we had spent a lot of time prepping them for a trip that wasn’t to be).
I knew we wouldn’t be able to do too much of the museum in just two hours. We watched this video before going and they talked about what excited them. Based on those conversations and our curriculum, I picked four exhibits for us to hit – and hoped we’d actually make it to all four!
As we made our way through the museum, sometimes at leisure and sometimes rushing, I found myself comparing this experience to taking my daughters to a museum. For our field trip I had a pretty set agenda for us. I talked to the kids about some questions and ideas to be thinking about in each exhibit. We fanned out in exhibits and gathered back to talk about what we had found and what we were thinking. The kids had cameras (one for every two kids) and they took almost 600 pictures. We’ll use those pictures to build on this experience for the next few weeks. All in all, it felt like a pretty successful field trip.
When I take my girls to a museum I do tend to some planning ahead, looking at the layout and possibilities. But we share the decisions throughout. If they see something that interests them, we’ll check it out. If something isn’t as interesting as we’d hoped, we move on. I don’t care if what we see has anything to do with their curriculum at school. I care that we all get to follow our interests and questions.
As a parent, at museums or just in our daily lives, I get to dig deep into questions with my girls (hence recent dinner conversations about the Holocaust and the Challenge explosion). We can get books from the library and look things up online. I don’t have to stop a conversation because we need to move on to our next subject or next standard.
One of my goals as a teacher is to get as close as possible to who I am as a parent (at least in terms of following our passions and interests).