Outings for Third Through Fifth Grade
The enthusiasm of third, fourth and fifth graders is reflected in the following comments heard on various outings: “This is so beautiful! Are we still in America ?” “I’m going to become a leader just like you!” And the most frequently heard comment, “I’ve never seen the ocean before!” Eight, nine and ten year olds are at a wonderfully receptive age for introducing new activities that involve exploring the out of doors. They’re curious and active and able to do a great deal. They want to learn.
A visit to the classroom by the ICO leader to prepare youngsters for a trip helps them know what to anticipate. A large map that enables them to see where they are and where they’ll be going is useful. The youngsters can volunteer suggestions as to what they might see during the trip. This will often give the ICO leader a chance to allay fears regarding snakes, bears and other unknowns. Ask them to predict what people have brought to the mountains as well as what is there naturally. Youngsters can contribute suggestions as to what rules may be necessary and why.
Youngsters in this age group like to be involved in decision making and understand the reasons for rules. At the beginning of an outing, they need to review any rules that were decided on in their classroom or other home agency. They need to have clear limits and understand the reasons for them. Often there is a contest as to who will walk in front. Discuss the need to take turns. hey are increasingly interested in their peers, but usually continue to relate well to adults and are cooperative.
Sensory experiences and stories continue to hold their interest. Ask them to rub a leaf from a sage and tell how it might be used. Let them wade in a stream or in the ocean. Tell stories about how Native Americans lived in the area. Explain that a specific habitat is a pantry for the animals that live there. Look under rocks for insects. Shake branches over a light-colored scarf to examine what might fall out.
Challenge the youngsters physically and at the same time keep the group together, not always an easy task. The youngsters will compare themselves with others; as adults we’ll support individuality and look for strengths. Ask open-ended questions about what they are doing and their likes and dislikes and then really listen. Share your enthusiasms, and they’ll share theirs.
[Service Group in Sequoia Grove. Photo credit: Rob Selzer]