The 5th/6th Grade class at Da Vinci Waldorf School just returned from its class trip to Starved Rock State Park. The class trip in the Waldorf school has several purposes. First, it is an opportunity for the students to understand themselves in an environment that is not their home and where they are allowed to make choices for themselves in a safe environment. This step towards independence is extremely important in the development of the human being.
The trip serves the additional purpose of letting the students explore the world around them in ways that relate the curriculum. Our trip to Starved Rock State Park allowed the students to see the geology, zoology, botany and geography of just one region of our home state.
We also learned quite a bit of history on our stop at the visitor center of the park itself, the Locks and Dam, which is overseen by the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Illinois-Michigan Canal system. From Native Americans who first inhabited this land, to French explorers of the 1600’s, and civilian workers of the mid 1900’s, we learned of the many people who explored, developed and shaped the land we call Illinois. Local Geography and Zoology are part of the Fourth Grade Curriculum; North American Geography and Botany are part of the Fifth Grade Curriculum; and Geology and Astronomy are part of the Sixth Grade Curriculum. These subjects are introduced in the grades mentioned, and carried forth throughout the child’s education. Aside from a lot of hiking, we looked at the wild life around us throughout the parks we visited, including the geometry in nature. We are fortunate, being a private school, that we have the freedom to bring the curriculum in this very experiential way, with class trips scheduled each year and lasting between three and ten days. Class trips are also a lot of fun!