“Look at the giant bird!” squealed a four-year-old girl from the backseat. She had just laid eyes on the towering metal structure of a great blue heron holding a fish in its mouth. The children at the Greenhouse Preschool were on a field trip to the Oso Bay Nature Preserve and Learning Center. Their teacher, Christy Zamora, is a firm believer in letting kids learn through being in nature. Sara Jose (aka Ms. Sara), the recreation coordinator at the center must be a believer, too, because she gave the little ones a day of learning they won’t soon forget. It quickly occurred to me that the best way to see the new park is through the eyes of a child.
Ms. Sara led the little ones to a shady spot just beyond the play area for a little story time. There she read What Kind of Turtle Am I? and talked with the children about looking at characteristics of animals to group (classify) them.
Then, Ms. Sara had the children pick a partner. She gave each pair a color card. “You and your partner will be on the look out for your color in all that we see today,” she said. Then, they set out on their hike through the park. How excited they were to see every shade of green, purple, red, yellow, white, and brown as they looked at plants, flowers, insects, and birds!
The children followed their leader down a winding path that made them ask, “Where are we?” “Where does this go?” Just as they were certain that they were lost, they spotted the long wooden and steel walkway leading out to the hawk watch area. Suddenly, the hot, thirsty, tired tykes had a burst of energy. When their feet hit the walkway, they could not help but run all the way to the end. There, Ms. Sara had them act like the birds they observed, classify wildlife from the area by playing a classification game, and waddle like ducks as they left the hawk watch.
The next part of the field trip led them to the play area. There they ran up the hills and slid down them on the giant, blue slides. They spun on cattails, climbed into a birdhouse, walked on lily pads across the pond, and had lunch in the bright sunshine. It was a wonderful day for all!
Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day. She also writes and edits for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper.