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Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Field Trip to Remember

When everyone else is blogging about tech, apps, and mashups, it seems strange that I'm blogging about a field trip. Not an online, virtual field trip, but an honest-to-goodness, real life field trip. Yes, Virginia, there is a real world beyond the key board!

My recommendation: Native Lands, a traveling program of Green Meadow Farms. Native Lands operates in much the same way as a traveling circus: the caravan arrives in a given location, sets up, and performs a number of times before moving on. But instead of one grand tent covering three rings, Native Lands operates in the great outdoors by setting up a number of stations. Each station is outfitted with sound systems and ample bleachers arranged in a U shape for spectators to take in the action.

But perhaps spectators is the wrong word, because teachers and students alike get to join in on the action: dancing and miming to harvest songs in the African Village, and playing Native American games by the Plains tipis. Other attractions include Animals of the Land and Birds of Prey. All of it educational, and all of it fun! Students can additionally feed a variety of animals at the petting zoo, shoot arrows at the archery range, and purchase food and souvenirs.

I've attended this event in fair weather and foul, and in every case (after a dozen years!) the performers entertain with equal energy and enthusiasm. Like Broadway professionals, they seem to realize that although this may be their 200th show, it is the first for most of their young visitors. And in every case, these same performers have make themselves available to students before and after the show to answer questions, explain their dress, and provide more information about their areas. (Event managers also routinely circulate, collecting feedback from teachers and parent chaperones).

The years that I couldn't attend with students, I've played hooky and taken my own daughters. I highly recommend you visit the site to see if Native Lands is visitingnear you. Definitely worth the trip!


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