Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer Learning: Rocks and Trees

I’m always looking for local field trip opportunities and when our local museum advertised summer learning opportunities, I knew I had to sign Ethan up!  His first class was about rocks and trees.  The classes were in the evening and Ben and I both went to his first one.  Our museum is a renovated three story hotel that was built in the 1930’s.    It is beautiful and the third floor is scheduled to become an interactive children’s museum some time soon.

In the basement level of the museum, there is a large hole in the floor dug down through the ground below that opens up into a cave.    This was where we started and Ethan’s favorite part of the evening.  We have heard stories in the past about how the hole was opened up when the museum was built and fans installed and the hotel was air cooled by the cool cave air in the summer.  Pretty cool, huh?



The man teaching the class on rocks talked briefly about the different kinds of rocks and then let the boys (there were only boys there that night) each hold a piece of conglomerate and sedimentary rock.  Then the very nice teacher handed Ethan a very large piece of slate.  I thought in my mind, “Um, not such a great idea..” and as soon as I thought it, a little piece of the rock broke off near Ethan’s hand causing him to drop it.  On the concrete floor.  Busting the rock to a bunch of tiny little pieces!  What you can see in the photo is about 1/4 of the rock shattered on the floor. 

And yes, he is wearing rain boots.  In my defense, it was raining earlier that day.



After learning about fossils and different kinds of rocks, we headed up to the 3rd floor where a nice lady talked to the kids about different kinds of trees.  She had samples of white oak, red oak, sasaphras, pine, cedar, maple and a few others.  She explained their differences and let the kids feel and smell each of them. 

Then they closed their eyes and had to guess which one she handed them.  Fair warning, I may brag a bit here.  Ethan was the youngest there and he guessed the two she handed him on the first try.  He had pine and white oak.  He was very happy he got those right.



While they were playing this guessing game, Ben wondered across the hall and was looking at some antique toys and I couldn’t help but snap this picture of him. 



The kids then went to another room (like I said, this used to be a hotel…meaning lots of little rooms) and they did leaf rubbings and made it into a little book.



They also gave the students a baby tree to take home.  Ethan loved this and took his time picking out his tree. 


On the way back down to the first floor, I took a detour to the 2nd floor where a lot of the local museum exhibits are.   There is one particular little room I love to visit.  It has a few things my Grandpa made before his death.  There was an event at the museum the summer of 2005 and we went.  That was the last time I was at this museum and on that day, Grandpa demonstrated how to cane bottom chairs.  This is the one he was working on.  It always gets me emotional to see.




Before we could leave the museum, one of the nice men who works at the museum insisted Ethan get up on the carriage.  Ben had to lift him up there and at first he was really scared, but he got to where he loved it and didn’t want to get down.  This carriage used to run between the town we live in and one that takes about 20 minutes to drive in by car. 



On the way out, the man that allowed Ethan and another boy up on the carriage tapped be on the shoulder and said, “Grandpa is smiling down tonight!”  He also told a group of people standing around that the museum wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for my Grandfather.  I got a little misty because we had just passed up the 5 year anniversary of his death and he had been on my mind so much.


All in all Ethan had a great time, learned a lot and I really enjoyed it too!  The next class is tomorrow and it is about Bats and Bees.  Oh my, he’s going to love it!

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