Saturday, February 13, 2016

Celebrating Imagination 2/13

It's Saturday and that means it is time to reflect on the week and celebrate things both big and small. Join our community and celebrate this week by linking up or just stopping by the host Ruth Ayres' blog to read others' celebrations.

Field trips are always fun, but they are also the most stressful days for teachers. We worry about whether students will behave and be respectful to the educator at the destination. We worry about possibly losing someone or a kid having some sort of emergency while we are on the trip. We try to contain the unbridled excitement of the students all day. We also worry about what the parent chaperones might be thinking about the job we are doing keeping the students in check (at least I do). This week, on my field trip to the zoo, I had the chance to focus on fun rather than stressing out.

As I sat eating lunch with my students on our field trip to the zoo, I realized much more was going on than just a chance to learn about animals. 

"Mrs. Payan, we found clues!" Nicholas was glowing with excitement and ready to tell me all about it. 
"Yeah, first it was the way the peahen was following us, then the elephant gave us a signal," Moises chimed in.

"Clues for what?" I innocently asked

"We're not sure yet...look there is a birthday balloon. I wonder whether it is his birthday or if he is going to give it to someone. Oh! That's another clue!" Nicholas stopped to take a bite of his sandwich and I turned around and looked where he had pointed. One of the zookeepers had a birthday balloon on his chair. 

"That's It! The animals are planning something. See, there is the peacock and he's acting suspicious. They're planning to get out," Moises was letting the gears turn quickly in his brain. His face lit up and he became quite animated. 

Now, Michael started to join in the conversation. "Yes. I knew it was suspicious when Christopher said, 'Have a nice day' at the end of our program. He was trying to keep us from finding out." 

At this point, I just sat back and continued listening. We had already had a zoo class about endangered animals and had a chance to see the big cats. We were eating lunch and then were going to head out to see as many other animals as possible before our bus came to get us. We had the cafeteria to ourselves, because it was a school day in the middle of February and super cold outside. My fourth grade students were incredibly hyper and excited about the opportunity to see all these cool animals. And this lunch time was a chance to take a small break. 

I looked around the cafeteria and was full of pride about how well my students were behaving. It never stops making my heart sing to see the way these kiddos get along with one another. And now, I was listening to the most imaginative thinking in a place that I didn't really expect to see imaginative play. As I listened to the mystery and the clues unravel at the lunch table, I took a minute to drink it all in. 

Throughout the rest of the day, I heard one of the boys say, "another clue!" every once in awhile. Then, when we were back at school, the boys had the whole conspiracy figured out and told me the whole story (which unfortunately I do not remember to write it here). 

I love how this regular field trip day turned into an opportunity for these students' imaginations to run wild. I love a great mystery and I know these boys had an awesome day full of mystery solving. Now, I need to go find my copy of Chasing Vermeer to give them! 

What do you have to celebrate this week? I would love to hear from you in the comments!


  1. How great that they talked together, adding bits to the story with each other. I know it was cold, but it sounds like it went beautifully.

  2. I do remember field trip days being a little stressful for teachers. ;-) I commented on Margaret's post that we don't take field trips anymore, and I miss them. It's fun to see students enjoying experiences out of school. The mystery your kids were trying to solve makes me think of Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann. :-)

  3. I love the excitement generated by your students, Andrea.

  4. It's so great that they added an extra element of fun to the day.

  5. I commented on Margaret's post that we don't take field trips anymore,