Community supports new kindergarten field trip

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 13, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — Local kindergartners are getting a hands-on look at how clay, wood, cloth and paper are used in every day life.
The Rowan-Salisbury School System’s elementary and academically/intellectually gifted (AIG) departments teamed up this year to bring ordinary science objectives to life through the Kindergarten Kaleidoscope field trip.
Every kindergartner in the school system gets to take a trip to the Salisbury Civic Center where four different stations await them.
At each station students explore where clay, wood, cloth and paper come from, how each one is used as well as how it feels, looks, smells and sounds.
The things they learn during the trip tie into the state’s core science curriculum.
Wood work
Grey Calvert, a retired Rowan-Salisbury school teacher, manned the wood work station this week, showing off wood beads, tree bark and a variety of wooden furniture.
“It gives them a lot of difference experiences,” she said. “The most important thing is the hands- on stuff because that’s what they’ll remember … you can talk to them but when they actually have it in their hands it connects to their little minds.”
After Calvert schooled the students in all aspects of wood, she gave them the opportunity to build their own sculptures using up to five wood pieces.
She said that exercise gives them an opportunity to use both math and fine motor skills.
Each class was given a box of work to take with them to make sculptures when they arrived back at school.
Fabric Fun
Jane Creech, the school system’s elementary curriculum specialist, led the fabric fun station this week.
Students had the opportunity to learn how clothes are made. Creech showed them a spinning wheel and explained how machines do the work that spinning wheels and hand stitching with a needle and thread once did.
After learning about fabric, students had the chance to stitch their first initial into a piece of burlap using a large plastic needle and yarn.
Clay creations
The clay station gave students a look at how clay is molded to create a number of objects ranging from plates to beads.
Karen Frazer, a local artist, showed children how a potter’s wheel works before giving them a chance to make their own “pinch pot.”
Each student received a bit of clay, which they sculpted with their hands to create a small bowl-like object.
“There is no technology needed, they just put it in the palm of their hand and go to work,” Frazer said. “It’s easy to handle.
“You can teach so much with pottery, it’s one of the finest materials used by ancient people.”
Paper possibilities
The AIG teacher from every school mans the paper station during each trip to the Civic Center.
Students learned that paper can be cut, folded, torn and drawn, painted and written on. They also learned how it’s used.
They also discovered that kaleidoscopes have a symmetrical geometric design that can be viewed through a small hole.
After discussing all the possibilities for paper, students broke into small groups to create their own symmetrical kaleidoscope design by tearing pieces of colored construction paper and gluing it to a white piece of cardstock.
Endless learning
Before students arrive to participate in Kindergarten Kaleidoscope, the AIG teacher at each school does preparatory lessons with kindergarten classes to set the foundation for their experience.
Teachers from Rockwell Elementary were impressed with the organization and flow of the field trip when their school visited the Civic Center this week.
“I really like that the kids are participating in hands-on activities,” teacher Sandra Hahn said. “It helps stretch their imagination and keeps them engaged.”
Teacher Kayla Jones said she was disappointed to find out field trips to Horizons Unlimited had been eliminated this year, but was pleasantly surprised at the learning opportunities provided through the kaleidoscope trip.
“The kids have been very excited about all the hands- on activities,” she said. “They really enjoy anything they can get their hands in.”
Frazer said as a community member she thinks the trip is a great idea.
“It is very important for children to have exposure to art and culture and to understand what it is,” she said.
The learning doesn’t stop after students leave the Civic Center.
Teachers are encouraged to do follow-up lessons that include writing and using a camera in a scavenger hunt around school to find the different materials, which they can used to make a gallery to showcase their work to share with others.
Community partners
Creech said the Kindergarten Kaleidoscope field trip would not have come to life had it not been for the generosity of the community.
The Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation funded the trips through a grant.
Robert Howard’s woodworking class at North Rowan cut the pieces of wood students use to create their sculptures and senior citizens at Trinity Oaks prepared more than 1,500 pieces of burlap for the children to use when stitching their initials.
Creech said Debbie Snyder, Trinity Oaks activities director, Norma Honeycutt, director of Partners in Learning, the Partners in Learning teaching staff, retired Rowan County teachers, members of the art community and the staff of the Salisbury Civic Center were also instrumental in making the field trip a reality.
Brenda Gariepy and Robert Toth supplied the clay for the pinch pots children created.
“The list just goes on and on and on of people helping people, doing a good turn for others, all to help our youngest learners connect learning in a real life experience,” Creech said. “Once again, when it is needed more than ever, this village is saying ‘yes’ to its children and their education through this kind of support.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.