Preparation, ongoing conversation, and reflection are the keys in field trip
planning and learning!
the other hand, my youngest son, who is
constantly trying to keep up with his big
brother, was able to identify with another of Longfellow’s main characters, Hiawatha, the little Native American boy
who wanted to be a warrior like those
among his family and friends. Because
the children’s book text was too complex
for my 9-year-old, I first had him watch
Walt Disney’s cartoon version of Little
Hiawatha. Then, I read the children’s
book to my son; he was equipped with
the needed images and ideas to help
him comprehend the poem’s plot; thus,
he was able to understand the children’s
Later, we read Longfellow’s poem,
“My Lost Youth,” which really captured
the essence of what Maine life was like
during the War of 1812. Just by reading
this poem, we ended up going on an impromptu “Internet scavenger hunt” and
found out that Longfellow watched part
of the War of 1812 which was occurring
. . . right outside his window! The British Enterprize and the United States’ Brig
Boxer, both military ships, fought until
both captains died and were later buried
right down the road from Longfellow’s
home. Talk about having history right
at your fingertips! You know, all boys do
love a good war story, and the curiosity about Longfellow had been piqued!
Teacher Mom had scored!
My sons kept a running list of interesting facts about this Maine poet: his
published poetry, both his personal and
public life, and Longfellow’s historical experiences. In the end, my oldest son, who
keeps a writing blog, created a fictional
resumé for Longfellow.
During the Trip
Prior to visiting Longfellow’s home, our
homeschooling group was able to attend
a youth concert titled “Tchaikovsky and
the 1812 Overture.” What was fascinating about this concert was the fact that
the narrator made historical connections between the Patriotic War of 1812,
when Napoleon invaded Russia, and the
United States War of 1812, our second
war for independence from Britain.
Before we entered Longfellow’s
home, I challenged my sons to have
this mindset: Walk away with three new
facts. During the tour, I was pleased to
see that my youngest was asking many
questions pertaining to how different
tools and gadgets worked. Although
my oldest did not speak during the
tour, his “body language” said it all.
When the tour guide mentioned the
wars, poems, and basic biographical
information about Longfellow, I could
tell that my son was making the nec-
essary connections with what he had
After the Trip
We did not have a discussion about the
field trip until the next day. I was rather
amused by my sons’ conclusions as they
both came away with some interesting
facts. My oldest son, who has hit the
6-foot mark, was fascinated by the construction of the small-sized beds. If you
go to his blog, you can read his personal
description of Longfellow’s beds.
My youngest wrote the following entry
in his journal:
I went to Portland to visit the symphony and Longfellow’s house. First,
I learned that there were two wars of
1812. Next, I found out that Longfellow’s kitchen used a very large metal
container to heat up the water. All
the kids took baths in the kitchen.
They all used the same water! Gross!
Finally, I learned that the arm that
held the kettle and pot over the fire
was called a crane. My field trip was
fun and interesting.
Some may be asking, Does she do
this for every field trip? Absolutely not!
Many times life gets in the way; therefore, we do not always invest a large
amount of time and energy in a field trip
or unit study, as we did for this one. Of
course, it does help that I am passionate about English and history because
I taught those subjects for many years.
Though some fields of study are harder
for me to embrace, I still attempt to actively engage my children in discussions
about all field trips—isn’t that how we
Even if you do not do extensive preparation prior to a field trip, reflection
and connection are so crucial. Once a
field trip is over, consider meeting with
other fellow homeschoolers and hold a
chat session about the learning experience. Or . . . have your own children go
home and jot down a list of things they
learned on the field trip or write a short
paragraph in their journal. Preparation, ongoing conversation, and reflection are the keys in field trip planning
Jennifer L. Padgett, M. Ed. has been a secondary educator in the fields of writing
and literacy for eighteen years. When not
homeschooling or teaching a night class,
Jennifer is pursuing her passions: adoption
advocacy and freelance writing. One may
read more about her family’s latest adventures at thewriteheart.com.
cessed November 18, 2012.
www.capjax.com • firstname.lastname@example.org
• Delightful approach
to math basics
• Builds math fluency
• Enriches current math
• Helps with word problems