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Learning in the field – kindergarten visits the orchard

photo of hayrideIn October, Fisher kindergarten classes and parent chaperones took a field trip to Sand Flatts Orchard in Fonda. It was a perfect, sunny fall day to be outdoors. The children enjoyed apple cider and donuts, took a hayride, walked through a corn maze, picked three apples and a pumpkin to bring home, and saw pigs, goats, chickens, dogs and a cat.

But is a field trip to an orchard learning or it is just fun?

“A field trip is all about learning,” said Director of Elementary Education Fran LaPaglia.

Learning, especially for small children, is about information, relationships, experience—and fun she explained.

The lesson began in the classroom where students learned about the life cycles of apples and pumpkins. Had it stopped there, important parts of the lesson would be lost. The trip to the orchard let children see, touch, taste, smell and hear, relating what they learned from books and videos back at school to the real world.

“Young brains look for patterns, ways to connect information that make sense. The orchard trip helped them connect classroom learning with their hands-on experience, making it easier to remember,” said Mrs. LaPaglia.

“The same applies for adults. I could show you pictures of the Eiffel Tower, have you read books, even show you movies, but you will only remember so much. But if I took you to Paris where you could see the tower in person, you would remember much more.”

She also said that having fun learning is critical.

“You can’t make students learn; they have to want to learn. They are too young to grasp the idea that this is important for their futures. Instead, you make it fun—and fun doesn’t mean foolish or wasteful, it means making it appealing and interesting,” said Mrs. LaPaglia.

As valuable as these experiences can be, the school has limited funds for field trips. It is the PTO that often steps up to underwrite the cost. In this case, the trip was paid for by a BOCES grant (80 percent) and a PTO donation (20 percent).

“Thanks to Fisher Elementary PTO for helping to fund our trip and making it possible for us to go,” said kindergarten teacher Martha Higgins.

Photo of two boys with pumpkins

photo of students and adults on hayride photo of girl and parents on hayride