“How does the hill become a hill?” “Does Bigfoot live in the park?” “Why are all the flowers different colors?” the first grade students of Lazear Charter Academy asked, their eyes wide with excitement as they bombarded their teacher with questions. They were on a field trip to Joaquin Miller Park, a 500 acre park located in the Oakland Hills, and for some of the students, it was their first time ever being in a forest.
With many of these students living in highly populated cities with more buildings than there are trees, they often have a hard time connecting references about nature and the outdoors with their daily lives. “When we speak of dirt, worms, grass, trees, and clouds, my students have a rough understanding, but they sometimes lack the hands-on experience that 6 & 7 year olds so much benefit from,” first grade teacher Alejandra Rodriguez explains.
Thanks to an Ed Fund A-Z Fund mini-grant, Alejandra Rodriguez, and a handful of chaperones, 50 first grade students from Lazear Charter Academy were able to gain some of that hands on experience at Joaquin Miller.
The young students were taken away with the beauty and vibrancy of the nature surrounding them. They went on several hikes and had a picnic surrounded by trees. They played amongst the redwoods, and spent over half an hour playing in a circular cluster of them that they ended up naming their castle. Students leapt back and forth across a creek and gathered pinecones to bring home, thanks to a book they read in class earlier in the year titled Penguin and Pinecone.
Rodriguez was also able to weave math and ELA into their field trip. They learned how to add, subtract, and measure using natural objects. They also wrote stories, read books, and built their literacy through this amazing visit to their local park.
Do you want to give more Oakland students opportunities like this Joaquin Miller adventure? Make a gift to the A-Z Fund here and show your support for our Oakland educators and youth. Thank you!