The weather has turned cold in Kamloops. I don’t know exactly how cold, but when I go outside, within seconds my fingers and toes feel like they’ve been dunked in ice water and my nose starts running like a tap.
But staying cooped-up all day is not an option either. So, yesterday when my niece, Kelly invited me to join her and her daughter, Emily on the Grade One outing to the Pumpkin Patch, I dressed in five layers (literally) and off we went.
After about a half-hour’s drive we arrived at Pete Murray’s Corn Farm . Wow – I had forgotten that little Canadian kids are tough – the cold didn’t faze them at all. They wanted to forego their cumbersome gloves, hats and scarves. But when the teacher said, “II fait froid” (this is a French immersion class) they allowed her and the rest of us adults to button, wrap and zipper. And all bundled up, out they clambered from the bus and onto the hay wagon!
We jostled along through dried corn stocks until we reached a paddock with dozens of sheep (les moutons) – and those sheep know what a wagon full of kids means for them. Each child had been given an ear of corn each to feed their wooly friends. Ba-a-a-a-a-a – Ba-a-a-a-a-a – Ba-a-a-a-a-a! means, “Watch out for your fingers – I’m hungry!”
Now, on to the main event. Pumpkins of every size lay scattered around, and the kids got to choose one to take home. But there was a catch – they had to be able to carry it themselves. Whooping and laughing, they B-lined to the bigg-est, bright-est, orange-est pumpkins. But when they straddled the biggies with their little legs, and tried to encircle them with their arms, they found out that pumpkins are heavy! All except for one tough little guy, ended up with much smaller pumpkins than they originally chose.
The hay wagon brought us back to the entrance and after eating our snacks, we set off on the nature walk. By this time I was freezing, but the kids were still going strong. We dodged “sheep pies” all the way to the river bank, and there we found piles of dead salmon. The teacher reminded her students that salmon lay their eggs in the river and then die. Eagles swooping overhead were intent on having their fill. The little troopers were fascinated.
For the children, this day was one of experiential learning at its best.
- Bundling-up and constant movement will keep the body warm (thermodynamics)
- The bigger the pumpkin, the heavier the load (mathematics)
- Never let your fingers get between the cob of corn and a hungry sheep (actions and consequences)
- Another thing about sheep – they have “efficient” digestive tracts (biology)
- The life cycle of salmon includes their demise while ushering in new life (ethics)
- Eagles help “clean up” the environment (natural sciences)
- Spontaneous use of French words and expressions (language and cultural studies)
Emily and all her hardy classmates reminded me that FUN and LEARNING are one – and this can happen wherever you are. Looking at life through the eyes of a child is a sure path to joy.