River Field Trip
This week I took my children on a field trip to a local river in our neighborhood. The summer has been dry, so much of the rocky river bed could be walked on and explored. We armed ourselves with a packed lunch, a microscope, and a bucket, and off we went. My nephews joined us on this adventure, so I had to have activities ready for athletes as well as my scientist and artist. The expedition team consisted of five boys and one girl, ranging in age from 4 to 10. To make it feel more like a “field trip,” I made a little activity booklet to go along with our adventure.
The first activity was skipping stones. Each child recorded how many skips the stone produced on each of five throws. My nephews, who are naturally athletic, really enjoyed this competition. My son, the scientist of the group, discovered that the shape of the stone was important to the number of skips he could get. Later, the kids (with some instruction) were able to find the mean, median, mode, and range of their throws.
The next activity was perfect for the creative child. We looked for uniquely-shaped rocks. The last time we visited the river, we found a rock shaped like the state of Ohio! We were anxious to see what interesting shape we would find this trip! James (7) found a rock that looked like, well, a rock. Patrick (5) found a triangle. Tommy, the four-year-old, was the most imaginative; he found a rock that he thought looked like a pickle!
The last activity required a little patience from the kids. We planned to look at droplets of the river water through a microscope. While I took the time to prep the equipment, I encouraged the children to do some independent exploration. The kids didn’t mind too much, they found other things to keep them busy. The boys found a frog to watch, and Paige filled a bucket full of rocks so that she could bring them home to paint.
When I finally got the microscope working, the kids collected water samples from different locations along the river. I used a dropper to place a droplet on the slides and then they took turns looking at the samples. They LOVED looking at what was in their water samples. I wasn’t expecting them to enjoy this as much as they did. The samples were not very colorful, nor were the shapes unusual, but each sample was different. The kids each drew a picture of what they saw on their slide.
These are just a few ideas of what you can do on your field trip to the river. Use your imagination to spark some new ideas, or better yet, let kids get in on the brainstorming process; then, the sky’s the limit! Happy exploring!!