Category Archives: Field Trips

Learning to Give: A Hands-On Way to Teach Generosity

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed. 

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Don’t you just love this time of year? Cider brewing on the stove’s back burner, pies bubbling in the oven, stores festooned with twinkle lights, the Salvation Army volunteer merrily ringing at the store’s front door…it’s all just so cheery. And it’s also the perfect time of year–as we all know–to teach children about the blessing of giving to others. Here is a hands-on way to do just that, as gleaned from Primrose Schools, whose award-winning character education curriculum is all about encouraging little ones to help others.

Beyond the Canned Food Drive

Stashing some cans in the bin at the gym is all well and good. It meets a need. It fills a soup kitchen. It’s a good thing to do. But–what if you took a different approach and got your children (and yourself) more directly involved in giving?

To really drive home the impact of giving to others, Primrose Schools nationwide encourage their private pre-k and kindergarten students to earn money through doing chores at home throughout the month of November, during their Caring and Giving event. The money is brought in to school each day, counted, charted and saved for a class-wide field trip to a local grocery store. There, the children use their own hard-earned stash of cash to select nonperishables off the shelves themselves, which are then loaded into the schools’ buses and taken to local community food banks.

What an ingenious way to make giving relevant to children! And, how easy to adapt with children at home, as well. Here’s how:

Set it up. 

First, designate a special spot in your home to save the money that’s just for giving. A mason jar labeled “Giving” and decorated with a cute ribbon (or decorated by your child) will do nicely. Put the jar in an important place, like on the kitchen counter or your child’s bedside table. Here’s a cute pre-made jar set from Lil Light O’ Mine, pictured right, that could be used year-round:

Earn it.

Then, brainstorm ideas with your child on how he or she could earn money to fill their jar. Explain that the money won’t be for them this time; it will be used to help families and children who don’t have as much food or as many nice toys as your child has.

Ideas might include unloading the dishwasher, vacuuming, picking up toys, clearing the table after dinner, setting the table for dinner, helping cook, raking leaves, taking out the trash, dusting their room, feeding the pets, making your bed or a sibling’s bed as a good deed…and whatever other helpful ideas your child mentions. List the ideas, and then post the list so your child can refer to it if they get “stuck” and need a prod or two.

Set parameters. 

Designate an amount of time (like two weeks), and an amount of money a chore will earn (like $0.25 or $1). You may also want to point out to your child that they won’t get paid for doing the things they’re already expected to do, like brushing their teeth or being nice to their siblings. Together, set parameters for earning that make sense for your family.

Then, sit down together and count the money your child has earned regularly. Not only will this reinforce math skills, but it will also build excitement and a positive sense of pride in your child at the good they’re going to do.

Spend It.

At the end of the set time period, take your child to the store and help them select nonperishable food items with their money. Talk about what they’d like to eat at Christmas or Thanksgiving, and help them make their choices. But, don’t control their choices. As an adult, you may want specific items to be purchased, but let your child do a little leading, as well. Teach them the joy of giving by making the process fun! When I did this with my 4-year-old son, for example, he insisted on adding in a couple cans of Sponge Bob chicken noodle soup. More power to him!

Donate It.

Then, either have your child put the goods in a collection box at the front of the store (if there is one), or find a shelter or food bank in your community and donate the goods there, with your child in tow. If you’re not sure where one is, do a quick Internet search. Key words to try: “food bank + (your city)” or “canned food drive + (your city).”

Some nonprofit resources for the Atlanta area: 

Hope for Christmas: collects new gifts, toys and nonperishable food. Volunteers also needed.

Atlanta Community Food Bank

MUST Ministries

It’s important for children to see the whole process– from earning, to saving, to spending, to giving. Thanks for the inspiration, Primrose Schools! We agree that thankfulness is best learned through giving, and giving is most enjoyed when experienced hands-on, from the heart. 

Elizabeth D. Cossick, M. Ed. has a bachelors in education from The University of Georgia and a masters in curriculum and instruction from Lesley University, Cambridge. In addition to being the editor of A Learning Experience, she publishes Little Black Dress | Little Red Wagon Magazine. She resides in Atlanta with her husband, two young children, and a frisky Westie named Munson.



Filed under Activities, Classroom Community, Extracurricular, Field Trips, Holidays, Service Learning

5 Cheap Fieldtrips for Fall!

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by Rachel Stepp

With cutbacks and limitations to money for field trips, it is easy to lose the desire to plan successful field trips for your classes. Here are few ideas for trips that you might want to use this upcoming school year:

1. Farm

Visit a local farm this season. Usually, farmers are willing to give students tours of their farms and allow students to pick some of their own vegetables and fruits. Also, students love to see farm animals and get to participate in animal care. For example, during the fall, students might enjoy going to a pumpkin farm. This will let them learn about science (vegetables, farming, insects, weather), social studies (economy, careers), and more.

2. Park

Most communities have local parks where students can explore nature while also exercising and playing team sports. By calling your local park services, you can find out whether or not your nature parks have guided tours or nature trails. Parks with archeological backgrounds or monuments add character to park trips. After your students have explored the park and its contents, then they can have a picnic or play sports. A rousing game of kickball or softball is a great class team builder, too!

3. Grocery Store

Most of your students have probably been to the grocery store with their parents or guardians, but they probably have not been behind the scenes. Contact your local store and ask them if they conduct group tours. Students can see the bakery and warehouse areas of a grocery store. Give your students a budget as they learn to calculate money. Make fake checkbooks for your students so that they can practice writing checks after they have collected the items from their grocery lists. Maybe your grocery store will also allow your students to scan their own groceries and pretend to be a cashier! To end the field trip, buy a simple snack to take back to the classroom and discuss the different aspects of the store.

4. Bank

Many young people are growing up without exposure to checks or cash because of the popularity of debit and credit cards. Plan a trip to a bank so that students can learn about checks, the history of American currency, counting money and more. This would be a great trip to take while students are learning about creating their own budgets and how to manage money! This will be a step into the real world that will teach them life long skills and possibilities.

5. Virtual Field Trip

If it is not possible to actually leave the school for a field trip, you can take your students on a virtual field trip! It is simple to find images and videos on the Internet of places around your community, state and even the world. Once you find these elements, combine them into a presentation that you can show students. While exploring images and videos, bring food, objects, or smells that coordinate with your presentation to make the experience more lifelike. If possible, you can decorate different classrooms in your school that students can explore as if they were different parts of your field trip location. In each room, students can participate in various activities such as dances, crafts, cooking and foreign language. This field trip option allows for classes to go further than ever before…you could even go to space!

Ask your students what they are interested about within their community to get ideas. Also, see if it is possible for your class to walk on their field trip to cut costs. These field trips will not only broaden your students’ horizons, but they will also introduce possible career paths…all without taxing your school’s tight budget.

Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at the University of Georgia, currently working on a Masters in Early Childhood Education.


Filed under Classroom Community, Field Trips, Uncategorized

Anatomy of a Creative Novel Study

by Kristin Woolums, M.Ed.

A creative study based on From the Mixed-Up files of Mrs. Basil E. Franweiler

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From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg is a Newbery Award-winning novel about two children who run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The story combines adventure and comedy, and each year, my 5th graders eagerly tell me how much they love it!

Originally published in 1968, one might think that it wouldn’t appeal to today’s youth, but here’s how I foster a love of a novel that’s over 40 years old:

A Virtual Field Trip

Early in the story, the lead characters, Claudia and Jamie, run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I take my students to the computer lab for a virtual field trip to see the sights that Claudia and Jamie would have seen ( The website allows students to see priceless pieces of art that they perhaps would never get to see, so I allow them to browse through the many pieces shown online. Click here for a printable sheet about the virtual tour.

The students supply a few details about their favorite pieces, including a rough sketch, which they record on a note-taking guide (click here to print it). We discuss the proper way to react to art and that there are many pieces that showcase the human body in tastefully, yet unclothed, ways (just a head’s up!).

A Great Debate

There are several ethical decisions that Claudia and Jamie encounter throughout the story:

o Stealing money from the museum’s fountain so they could eat

o Sneaking around and lying so they wouldn’t get caught living in the museum

o Worrying their parents by running away

Each student chooses whether they thought the action was justified or not, and in a traditional debate setting, we civilly discuss the matter at hand. This makes for some very teachable moments, and the students love this!

A Creative Culmination

To end the study, the students participate in a creative “summary-by-chapter” book report. A post describing all of the details about this creative project, including a rubric, is coming next on A Learning Experience. The best part is that this idea can be adapted to any novel!

This wonderful and timeless adventure about two children running away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art is chock full of adventure, comedy, and a sense of family as Claudia and Jamie learn to survive in the real world. My students enjoy the novel, and I hope Ms. Konigsburg is happy that I’ve taken her exciting novel to the next level by interjecting classroom reading with a virtual field trip, a debate, and a creative book report project!

Kristin’s Chapter-by-Summary book report idea (including a rubric) is coming next on A Learning Experience!

Kristin M. Woolums, M. Ed., teaches fifth grade at a private school in Atlanta and works at The School Box at Southlake during the summer months.


Filed under Assessments, comprehension, Field Trips, Reading, reading aloud, reluctant readers, technology, Uncategorized

Educational Programs at Tellus: Northwest Georgia Science Museum.

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by Anastasia Teasley

“It’s one thing to read about something in a book, but to actually see the bones of that dinosaur, the bones of that sea creature, to see that old car, to touch a geode — that adds dimension to our classroom instruction that we could never replace.” AJC interview with Peggy Cowan , Cartersville City School System

Museums have been a timeless solution to branching beyond the classroom walls, making science and history real in a child’s life. Tellus Museum offers programs for students, and even home schoolers and scouts, to benefit from the number of educational resources they have at hand.

Field Trips

Tellus has developed age- or grade-specific programs for field trip visits. Their Web site provides in-depth descriptions of the programs for each level, as well as the correlating activities that go with the theme of that program. The programs start at the Pre-K level, and extend through college-appropriate programs. Schools are provided with a number of program choices, depending on the level. Each program correlates to specific curriculum needs based on the Georgia Performance Standards.

The choices available to schools revolve around Tellus’s four galleries. It’s Alive, hosted in the Collins Family My Big Back Yard Gallery, for example, looks into insect life with younger children. Pre-K and Kindergarten children spend time in the gallery and in a lab, as well as singing and dancing in a theater and exploring other kid-approved biology topics. More advanced topics in other galleries include matter (which, of course, includes experimentation with liquid nitrogen), energy, magnets and galaxy studies for first through fifth graders. High school and college students can dive into topics like alternative energy, geology and periodic table programs. These programs run between an hour and a half to two hours, and each student takes home a souvenir of their day at Tellus!

Programs and scheduling can be found at

Home School Programs

Two Tuesdays a month, Tellus opens its doors with special programs designed specifically for home school students. The programs are suited for all ages and touch on a variety of science topics. The Web site features a table with schedules of each program. Like the field trip options, programs range from mineral testing to magnets, weather and more! To view the program options for your home school student visit or call 770- 606-5699.

Programs for Scouts

Tellus Museum provides unique opportunities for scouts to get their hands on science…and earn a badge while they’re at it! The museum lays out specific requirements for a scout’s badge or pin and then demonstrates how to fulfill that requirement. Boy Scouts attending the Farming for Fuels event on November 7th will earn their Energy Merit Badge. Also in November is the Night Sky event for the Girl Scout Council (juniors through ambassadors). This program fulfills requirements in meteorology.

Next year’s schedule has already been posted through the month of April. In January, Webelos and Cub Scouts can earn their geologist activity badge or pin, and in March, Brownie Girl Scouts will be able to achieve their Science Wonder badge. There are other events posted online, and Tellus encourages scout councils to check their website periodically to find their upcoming events:

Educational Outreach

Rockin’ Rollers is a program designed for outreach outside of Tellus Museum. Educators at Tellus have put together themed roller suitcases containing special “touch friendly” hand specimens for the classroom. The suitcases are designed to teach students mineral, fossil and rock identification. Teachers can check out the suitcase for a week! To reserve a suitcase (with a $50 refundable deposit per roller), call Kerry Cornwell at 770-606-5717.

Adult Education

For adults wanting to expand their educational horizons in science, Tellus offers a lecture series featuring special guest speakers. The lectures are included in the price of admission, and topics in the past have addressed gold in Georgia, geography of the Grand Canyon, and the construction of Tellus’s grand dinosaur skeletons! Speakers have included biologists, paleontologists, geologists and other professionals from a variety of backgrounds.

The next lecture will be “Treasure Hunt”: The Search and Recovery of the S.S. Central America featuring treasure hunter Lance McAfee on Thursday, November 5th at 7pm. For current information about the educational programs at Tellus, check out

For a printable copy of this article by Anastasia Teasley, click here.

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Our Fascinating World

trexaboveCome Explore it at Tellus: Northwest Georgia Science Museum

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by Anastasia Teasley

In 2007, the Weinman Mineral Museum in Cartersville, Georgia, closed its doors to await a monumental reconstruction project. Local schools and community residents waited with eager hearts as an impressive, modern building began to take shape behind a sign that said Tellus Science Museum Coming Soon. Solar panels glistened in the sun next to a new observatory. Science museums of this magnitude seemed limited to larger cities, such as Chattanooga and Atlanta. Though many schools treasured their beloved Weinman Museum, Northwest Georgia was ready for a fun, educational and impressive resource of its own.

Tellus Museum, now a Smithsonian affiliate, is a product of dreams, donations and great expectations of bringing a new level of science and educational resources to North Georgia. In January 2009, the museum opened. The once 9,000-square foot facility of collected minerals had transformed into 120,000-square feet of state-of-the-art technology—with room enough to fit the Weinman Museum in one gallery.

Our goal of this newsletter is to provide information on educational resources that are available to parents and teachers, and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to introduce you to one of Georgia’s proudest accomplishments. Tellus Museum combines exhibits open to the public with specialized education programs appropriate for schools, home schoolers, adult learners and even scouts!

What Does The Tellus Museum Feature?

There is plenty to see and do at Tellus! This museum blends exhibits with hands-on learning zones, showcasing dinosaur skeletons, space shuttle and aircraft pieces, antique automobiles, ancient fossils and gems, star-gazing from a digital planetarium and more. This is by no means a touch-free facility.

One of the main galleries especially welcoming to children is an exhibit called The Collins Family My Big Backyard. Here, young scientists learn about their environment–particularly the physical and biological sciences right in a kid’s own backyard. The Tellus Web site states that kids “will be drawn to an interactive garden created just for them. With magnet games, sorting activities, raceways and more, exploring science will be a fun, engaging opportunity even for these little ones.” This is just one of many unique kid-friendly opportunities.

Every visitor to Tellus, young and old, is encouraged to stop by the Gem Panning and Fossil Dig activity area. Georgia is known for its rich mineral history, which had been an integral part of the Weinman Mineral Museum. This is a way for students to develop a scientific and historical connection to Georgia. Grab up a pan, and sift through sand. Visitors are welcome to take home the gemstones they find! The Fossil Dig is in an adjoining room. This room simulates a real dinosaur dig. Visitors can take a brush, and reveal replicas of many different fossils including dinosaur skeletons! Diggers will even uncover shark teeth, snail shells, and other fossils; they can select one as a souvenir to take home.

Other unique exhibits include the Solar Decathlon House (a solar-powered house built by Georgia Tech students), events and lecture series on topics ranging from paleontology through astronomy, and the Smithsonian affiliation will be adding to displays and programming.

“Even though they’re a new entity, they have a wonderful facility, an excellent staff,” Smithsonian affiliations director Harold Closter said of Tellus. “It’s an asset to the community, something we respect very much for taking that on.”

Visitors are encouraged to check out for updates, events and programs to plan your next visit to Tellus!

Tellus: Northwest Georgia Science Museum, 100 Tellus Dr., Cartersville. $8-$12, free for members and active military. 770-606-5700.

To print a copy of this article, click here.

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Filed under Field Trips, Science