As the line from Casablanca goes: "This looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
It's amazing what an old friendship with a former colleague (don't even ask how many years ago we taught together!!), an environmental education blog, Facebook, a school with a river shoreline and a view of the Chesapeake Bay, another school with a year-long study of said-mentioned bay, a hint of inspiration, and two months of prep time can give you.
Pairing up our ECS PreK to 5th graders and GEDS's 1st--5th graders doubled our campus population for a day, giving us six groups of 20 or so kids each to travel through the day together. It more-than-doubled our campus' energy level and excitement for the day!! Here was our day's schedule:
The problem with a day like this is you want to be everywhere simultaneously! I was running the iPad QR Code eco-scavenger hunt which took us from one end of the campus to the other scanning bar codes and answering questions about the "3 Sisters in Native American heritage," finding our on-campus nest for "the fish hawk," and more. Given my lead in this activity, I was only with my own students for about 1/3 of the day. Additionally, I didn't get the pictures/sights I'd have loved to have gotten of the kids who were seining, nature walking, or making paper with the art teachers.
But no matter--there were smiling faces at just about every turn... not to mention new friendships being made. Additionally, there was mutual energy in our multi-modal activities where senses were activated, music abounded, and art surrounded us; where we delved into environmental literature (and writing activities) with visiting author Maryland "Green" author Jennifer Keats Curtis, and we dove head-first into STEM activities surrounding nature studies. The outdoors governed the day and served as the catalyst for collaboration.
Then of course... Let's not forget: The Half Time Entertainment--"Jack and the Green Stalk!!!"
More than a play, "Jack and the Green Stalk" was the brainchild of our science and music teachers--a musical performance complete with guitar and student recorders playing "Stairway to Heaven" as the magic beans grew from the compost heap where they were tossed. The music continued while Jack (short for Jacqueline because her father always wanted a boy) and her musical rendition of a modified version of "Shall I Stay or Shall I Go." Name a better song to sing while trying to decide whether or not to climb a magic beanstalk (which, of course, you know she did).
It was probably what Jack found atop the "green stalk" that was most surprising to Jack... not to mention the captivated audience. The 8.5 foot giant, who was not only super-human (in both size and animation), but was also fiery, fierce, and full of "his" Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum. Did I mention the giant could chase Jack like a pro? Add in the "Magical Golden Bin" (hmmm... looking remarkably like our county's recycle bins)--"if only we ALL had one--look what we could do." Did I mention the Singing Harp? Oh yeah: Our science and music teachers/directors took Grimm's Fairy Tales to brand new heights!!
So: WHAT A DAY!! (Even better--we had a raccoon sighting on our nature trail! Check out the tiny guy in the center of the picture to the right!) Of course the weather couldn't have cooperated more. At the end of the day, we waved goodbye to our new friends, and we also started counting down the days until we meet again. (This, we're delighted, will be very soon as the ECS 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders trek down the Baltimore-Washington Corridor in a few short weeks to continue our friendship and exchange of ideas down GEDS's way.
Yes, indeed... What a day!! Most certainly: It looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship.