We had a snow day today, and as much as I love being at school with my students, I LOVE a good snow day. This one was particularly good. We got about 10″ of snow which is a record for Richmond in the past 5 years I believe. And, the snow was great. Soft and fluffy and just asking to be played in 🙂 My husband built some huge snow fort structures that we all carved out on the inside to make a snow fort/igloo structure. We did this with Cyrus when we lived in Colorado but that was a long time ago and he was quite young so this was his first snow fort experience. As he and I were digging out the structure, I just started talking about the indigenous people of Alaska and how they often times would build igloo structures for security and warmth in the winter months. He asked lots of great questions (he is 5) and I answered as best I could. Then, when he was having a snack break with his dad in the fort, I heard them talking about trench warfare and what that was like. Brad, of course, left out the violent component of it but explained why the countries used trench warfare and what that looked like. Cy was very interested and had some great questions to ask about that.
After lunch, we went for a hike to look for a good sledding spot. There was a hill that Cy tried to climb up and it was covered in downed trees and plant debris. I saw that he was struggling so I mentioned to him that a lot of times, when you are out in the woods and hiking, you can take cues from animals in terms of finding the most direct and safest route to the top of a hill/mountain or if you are looking for water, you can often times follow animal tracks and they will lead you straight there. After our discussion, Cy came back down the hill and started looking for tracks and immediate found a set of deer tracks about 15 yards to our right (which is why I brought the conversation up in the first place). He excitedly headed over there and seamlessly followed the tracks right up the hill to the top.
As I sit here and reflect on our day, I realized that this is exactly how I want my classroom to run. Full of applicable, authentic, experiential educational moments that the students can grasp on to and find a connection with; moments that get them thinking and questioning and that they will remember as useful later in their lives. The “how” is the bigger, more complicated, piece of this puzzle!! Stay tuned for that one….