Field trips and hands-on learning are an essential part of our academic curricula and our social curriculum at all grade levels. Here’s just a sample of the experiences Co-op students have had this September to facilitate their learning.
Early Ages Butterfly Study
Our Early Ages classes began the school year by watching Monarch butterfly caterpillars munching away on their milkweed leaves. They watched then as the caterpillars transformed themselves into their gold-flecked cocoons and finally into Monarch butterflies. They ended the month by watching the Monarchs fly away.
Kindergarten Spearheads the Collection of Items for the Food Pantry
Kindergarten launched their year-long collection of food and supplies for the Human Needs Food Pantry. The kindergarten students make monthly deliveries (on foot pulling along their big red wagon) to the Food Pantry in Montclair.
Fourth Graders Sail with the Hackensack Riverkeepers
During their first semester, fourth grade’s integrated Theme/Science curriculum will be exploring geography and mapmaking, focusing particularly on the history and ecosystems of the New York/New Jersey estuary. They will be doing extensive fieldwork in, on, and around the estuarine waters, saltmarshes, and coastal areas of the Hudson, Hackensack, and Passaic Rivers, as well as the lower end of the bay near Sandy Hook.
They had their first experience on the water last week when they set sail with the Hackensack Riverkeepers. The fourth graders learned about the different types of grasses and the wide variety of birds that live along the Hackensack. They were thrilled to get an up close view of an osprey flying with a fish in its talons, cormorants diving underwater, and a great blue heron taking off right in front of the boat! Captain Huey helped to answer many of their questions about the Meadowlands and inspired many more questions that they will explore this fall.
7th Graders are Farmers for a Week
The weather couldn’t have been better for our seventh graders who spent a week at Springbrook Farms in Vermont. Their long, full days began at 6:30 am learning about the farming industry through workshops and hands-on farming responsibilities that included farming Jersey cows (calves, heifers and cows) and small animals. Students also experienced first hand how cheese and maple syrup is manufactured.
8th Grade Students’ Connecticut River Expedition
Barely back to school in September, the 8th graders headed North to New Hampshire for the annual 8th grade river canoe expedition on the Connecticut River. A 6-day experience that challenges the students to perform at their personal best under unfamiliar and demanding conditions. The experience is designed to kickoff the school year for our eighth graders preparing them both individually and as a group for their last big year at the Co-op. Some examples of what the experience meant to the students:
- “…… was an experience that will probably impact and influence the way I think about nature for the rest of my life.”
- “The experience transformed me to accept every challenge that came my way.”
- “I worked really hard, while bonding with my friends, laughing, and learning about myself.”
Forced From Home – 8th Grade Learn More about the Refugee Crisis
Montclair Co-op’s 8th graders also traveled to New York City to learn more about the global refugee crisis, a subject they will be studying in their Theme class, a year-long examination of global issues. “Forced from Home” is an exhibition presented by Doctors Without Boarders (MSF/Medecins Sans Frontieres), and is an unflinching and informative look at the parts of the world currently in turmoil for many different reasons. As our students went from tent to tent and from country to country they learned to appreciate the depth of the problem, the sheer numbers of people involved and what help – for example, medical treatment, food, water – could be given by organizations such as MSF. The doctor who was the Co-op’s guide had just himself returned from Afghanistan and could report first hand what life was like for volunteers in the field. He heaped praise on our 8th graders – the only group that day who had been able to name all the countries he pointed to on the world map.