Who doesn’t remember the excitement of going on a school excursion! Getting out of the classroom, venturing beyond the school grounds, exploring new experiences and learning about the world around us. Maybe within walking distance, sometimes by bus and occasionally a distance requiring flying. An hour, a day, a week.
I have experienced this wonder many times as a teacher, parent and student. In all three capacities the learning and reward of the opportunity has been obvious.
The choice of destination is enormous, ranging from local community outings (as simple as an Autumn Walk, visit to library, fire station, post office) to nature/environmental experiences (marine programs at beach, farms), museum visits, theatre productions, and much more. Let’s take a look at one…
Sovereign Hill is an open-air museum in Ballarat Victoria which takes the visitor back to the days of the Goldrush. In the education programs children explore the history of the era, re-enact the Eureka Stockade, pan for gold and experience firsthand some of the activities of the 1850’s. A number of programs are available or schools can create their own experience. Excursions provide “creative, stimulating and interactive experiences”, “indoors, outdoors, above-ground and below-ground”. There is a good blend of educator led and independent activities.
All year levels are catered for and it is even possible to participate in a 2 night school camp where children wear costume and attend classes in traditional style.
I accompanied a group of Year 5 students, sharing with them a step back in time. Re-enacting the Eureka Stockade, writing on slate at old wooden desks, ten-pin bowling old style, candle making, horse drawn carriage rides, blacksmiths, underground mines were all exciting. The panning for gold, however, had everyone hoping to become rich!
With just over 2 hours travel time each way it was a huge day (7.30am til 6pm). Despite this teachers, students and parents all agreed a valuable experience.
This excursion meets history and social science curriculum areas. Sovereign Hill also provide activities and resources which link learning to many other areas of the Victorian Curriculum. Their website is comprehensive and informative, very useful in planning an appropriate experience for school’s individual needs.