Friday, May 16, 2014

We Didn't Go Anywhere And We Didn't Do Anything

We try to take at least one field trip a month with our older classes, going to cool places where they make stuff like chocolate factories, breweries, and farms, or where we're exposed to new skills and ideas like School of Rock, the Center for Wooden Boats, or a museum. Whenever possible, we try to use public transportation, usually the bus. The following day, we always discuss our favorite part. Invariably, most kids put the bus trip at the top of their list, so the idea for yesterday's field trip was a "day of transportation." One boy, in particular, was blown away by this concept. It seemed to boggle his mind in a good way. We had a series of conversations throughout the morning. This was just one boy. There were 22 other versions of this happening simultaneously, all asking different questions and noticing different things. It's why we take field trips.


"We have to get going or we're going to miss our bus."

"Where are we going, Teacher Tom?"

"We're going to take a bus to Seattle Center, then we're going to take the monorail to Westlake Center, then we're going to take a trolley to South Lake Union, then we're going to eat a snack, then we're going to take a bus to get back to school."

"What's a monorail?"

"It's a kind of train."

"What's a trolley?"

"It's a different kind of train."

"So, we're going to take two trains?"

"And two busses."

"Two trains and two busses."


"Is this the first bus, Teacher Tom?"


"This is the first bus, then we're going to take two trains, then another bus."


"Where are we going now?"

"Seattle Center."

"What are we going to do there?"

"Find the monorail station."

On the way to find the monorail station, around the interior side of Key Arena, in the shadow of the Space Needle, we found a skate park devoid of skate boarders, so we took it over.


"Teacher Tom, is this the monorail?"


"We were on one bus, now we're on a train, then we're going on another train, then another bus."

"That's the plan."

"I've never been on a monorail before."

"I think it's pretty cool."

"I think it's pretty cool, too . . . When do we get our snack?"

"When we get to South Lake Union. Are you hungry now?"

"No, I'm just making a plan to eat snack when we get there . . . So, one more train and one more bus, right?"

"Yes, and snack in between."

As we waited for the trolley, with the monorail from which we'd recently disembarked passing overhead, we watched a worker use a special kind of power washer to clean the sidewalk.


"I like the trolley!"

"It's cool. It goes right past my house."

"Your house?"

"My apartment. I'll point to it when we go past."

"What's an apartment?"

"I live upstairs in a big building with lots of other people."

"Do you ride the trolley to school?"

"No, I ride my bike."

"You should ride the trolley."

"It doesn't go to our school."

He thought about that for a moment, then answered, "I've never seen any trolleys by the school."


"What is this place?"

"It's South Lake Union. It's a park."

"This is where we're going to eat our snack. I know, let's sit at those tables."

"Good idea."

"After we eat our snack, can we go in that building?" He was pointing at the new Museum of History and Industry.

"That's a cool place, but we don't have time today. We still have to catch a bus."

He counted on his fingers, "We went on one bus and two trains. Then we have to ride one more bus."

While we were biding our time between our snack and our scheduled bus, we rolled down grassy hills, steered around goose poop, took a walk along the moorage to have a look at the vintage boats (including a yacht, a ferry, a light ship, a tug, and a fire boat), made our way across the footbridge to a little beach where we waded and threw pebbles into the water, then had a close-up look at some goslings.


"This is the last bus. We're going back to school now."


"We took a bus, two trains, and another bus. And now we're going back to school."

"What was your favorite part of the field trip?"

He thought before answering, "Right now."

"Me too."

Back at school I opened the gate and stood counting the kids as they filed past, doing one last check to assure myself that we were returning with the same number with which we left. He paused just inside the gate to talk with me.

"We went on two busses and two trains."

"And now we're back at school."

"We just rode busses and trains. We didn't go anywhere and we didn't do anything."

"That sounds about right."

He nodded as if we'd just made an agreement, then ran off to play with his friends.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We have a young friend with a degenerative disease. He adores public transportation! The Make-a-Wish foundation granted a trip to ride the bullet train in Japan. Your field trip idea is inspired. So much of what we tend to take for granted is wondrous to others.