Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Field Trip Back in Time

The Girl's 4th grade class took a walking field trip to the Plains Conservation Center to learn how people lived around 1887 when Colorado was still pretty empty and untamed.  I'd never heard of a walking field trip but I loved the Plains Conservation Center and decided to volunteer to be a chaperone.


As it turns out, instead of taking a bus, we would be walking 3 miles to the conservation center and 3 miles back. We were told to bring good shoes/boots, a backpack, lunch, a couple snacks, water, a hat and sunscreen, and to "dress for Colorado weather". That means "dress for anything". It actually snowed during the Monday group's field trip. Thank goodness the forecast the morning of our walk looked a lot better.

There were enough parent volunteers for this trip that I only needed to be in charge of 5 children this time. There was still snow on the ground when we left the school but the temps were in the 40's and climbing. It would take about 45 minutes to get to our destination.

Since this area is so pedestrian friendly, there were wide sidewalks and paths for most of the walk.


There were 2 classes going and each class was split into 4 smaller groups. Even within the groups, students were assigned their "buddies".

Everything went smoothly until we got to the final 50 yards or so where it was slippery mud and snow, but even the drama during that last 50 yards was just the kids over-reacting to the snow, the mud, the uphill climb, you name it. And then to make things more interesting, they found a prairie dog skeleton in a ditch. If you ask any one of those kids what they remember about the field trip, they're likely to mention that skeleton.


Once we got to the Plains Conservation Center, we formed 4 groups and partnered with a Center Volunteer who would give us the tour and teach us about the Cheyenne on the plains and how the pioneers of 1887 were able to scratch out a living.

First, we learned about the weather and rainfall here on the plains. An average of 12 inches annually. Last year, it was approximately 9.95 inches.

We learned about all the different uses for a Yucca plant - one of the few native plants pioneers and Native Americans would find growing on the prairie.


We hopped on a wagon and took a ride past the Cheyenne Camp (seen above) to the sod village. There were all kinds of animals on the prairie! Rabbits and prairie dogs, even an owl!


The Girl got to take a turn pumping water using a hand pump.


Then she tried hauling the buckets of water using a yoke.


She fed the cattle...


And toured a home built of sod...


There is more about the sod village from our trip to the Plains Conservation Center at Christmas time for Christmas In The Soddies.

Thank goodness The Girl decided to wear her snow boots. After all the recent snows, the ground was really muddy!


Her class learned how to erect a tepee and tie it...


...then learned how to cover it and secure it...


The day ended all to quickly and we soon found it was time to leave. Remember the first picture above with the tepees? This one was taken as we were leaving. All the snow has disappeared...


Gathering to wait for the last group to catch up...


Then we headed back to the school...


That was a great field trip! I'm ready for the next one!

Isn't this a fantastic view?


Yes, it's pretty grainy because I zoomed in so much...but that's downtown Denver in the bottom right corner...



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