Taking a virtual tour

A piece on the news caught my attention last week. A teacher in Texas was featured for an activity that she did with her class. They took a day away from their studies and “visited” Mexico. She had travel documents for each student as well as a passport. The children were really enthused about their trip.

My mind traveled back nearly forty years ago. I was teaching at a small school with only one of every grade there. We planned a day to explore the countries of the world.

I chose France for the second grade. I took French in high school and I had a foreign exchange student from France one year. I taught the children to count in French. I taught them the words for the colors. I also taught a couple songs. We discussed French pastry. Our presentation included the things that we learned. My students were really proud to be able to count in French and say the color names. We also discussed a little about France’s part in WWII.

Before we could begin all of the teachers chose a country to study. Much teaching took place prior to our day of the trip. Each class learned about customs, foods enjoyed, language, and how the people in their country lived. Geography also played a part. We used maps to locate the countries that we would be traveling to. We learned about the flag of each country.

I prepared the format for the passports. Luckily one teacher had a passport that I could use as my pattern. I used the copier to produce the documents. I remember that I had help with that process.

The copier I used was the old one that produced those purple copies. I ran everything off and then my committee got together to put the passports together. Each student had a sticky photo attached to theirs. The secretary provided those.

We used the paper cutter- I am sure those are no longer used either. I worked with the cafeteria ladies on the menu for the day. We featured dishes from each of the countries that we would visit. Each class made a flag of their country. We made enough for the whole school to use as placemats.

Travel groups were formed with students of different ages put together so there was help for the younger students. Incidentally, this also cut down on disciplinary measures since everyone wanted to have a good time and were willing to help the younger students.

I worked out the schedule. Each classroom was represented in each group. They were the presenters when the group got to their room. Every minute of the day was used for this activity.

The day of travel finally arrived. Students went to their home classrooms to leave their belongings, then reported back to the cafeteria to be assigned to groups. I had the passports for each group for the teachers to help pass out. They were color coded with all of one color together.

Passports were checked at the doorway of each classroom and stamped for their country. The first lesson was that at that time no passports were needed to enter Canada. The teachers remained in their own rooms to supervise each group as it visited. Lunch was served in two groups. While one group ate, the other had outdoor recess. Then we switched. We shared what was to be served in the cafeteria that day. We did allow students to pack their lunches, but most were eager to try the new offerings.

At the end of the day each student returned to get their belongings. Although they were tired, they were energized. The day of travel proved to be a popular event. The next year when the new students came through my door, they wanted to know where we were going to travel that year?

The activity could not have been completed without all of the teachers being on board. It took the effort of everyone to pull this off. Everyone worked hard on this project. New frontiers were forged, but that proved to be a good thing.

I believe that a lot of good came from this activity. Even those reluctant students enthusiastically participated because it was a different type of activity.

I was able to document this activity with an article in “Instructor” magazine. I wrote up the activity and submitted it for publication.

We were all delighted to get to see it in print.

I was pleased to know that type of activity could still be done. With all of the regulations, it is tough to fit in things that do not fit the mold.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell. Email her at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.


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