It was in place before I came to fourth grade and going to a pumpkin farm sounds rather, well, weak, to be honest. Nothing delights me more than to be able to report this was an entirely engaging, hands-on learning experience for our kids.
They listened with rapt attention while Farmer Tom told them about the fishery he runs with over 60,000 rainbow trout. He let the kids look at the babies, the "teenagers" and the "grown-ups," showed them how they are sorted, what they do when they're fed, why they're called rainbow trout, and even let them in on the reason he has so many fish. His answer surprised me! Surprisingly, he even let the kids get up close and personal with fish, being careful to let all the kids examine it carefully and making sure the fish wasn't out of the water too long.
For kids who weren't aquatic animal lovers, Farmer Tom also has some goats and a llama. After a short feeding and petting time, we made our way to the wagons for a nice ride.
Riding the wagon on a "hay ride" (no hay, but who's going to argue this point, right?) was the highlight for many of the kids. With an old noisy tractor pulling us, Farmer Tom would make make stops at various places, pointing out beaver dams, explaining the differences between harvested and non-harvested pumpkin fields, letting kids dig for arrow heads (my kids found eight!) and showing a site where it is believed there was a Native American village.
The end of our wagon ride brought us back to the front of the farm and we thoroughly enjoyed our time with Big Fish, a Native American who is very knowledgeable about his heritage. He kept the kids' attention with his explanation of his clothing, his tools, and his ancestors' ways. He had many authentic baskets, weapons, and animal skins he had hunted, skinned, and tanned himself using traditional methods. The grand finale was when Big Fish started a fire using flint in about ten seconds. He became a super hero in that ten seconds if he hadn't become one already.
With lunch at the tail end of our trip, the kids had plenty to talk about and were ready, with help from Harley, the farm's dog, to pick out a pumpkin and head back to school.
All of that adventure was truly great food for writing so they all wrote about what they enjoyed or were most impressed with from the day. It was wonderful to see a vast array of ideas and to see more of the kids bring details into their writing.
Days like these are worth remembering and writing about.