Outdoor Education Inspires Young Writers

Every Monday morning the Grade 4 students begin their week with an outdoor learning experience led by Jamie Pope, Ami Gordon and parent volunteers. Destinations since September have included McNeill Bay, Anderson Hill and McMicking Point. Each outdoor education experience builds on the previous week.

For example, one day in the fall found students on Anderson Hill using a plant identification app after learning about the local plants native to the area. Another morning focused on learning about the local First Peoples and how they used the land in the past. This connected directly to their social studies curriculum. An integrated unit at the end of the first term included creating a digital map (created in Digital Skills) to one of the destinations, a descriptive writing piece of the area, a map including the streets and directions to the destination, symbols representing First Peoples’ connection to the land and use of natural resources, as well as mathematical computations calculating the distance travelled by foot to the location. Most recently, the students have been engaged in reading compasses, orienteering and scavenger hunts. Starting this week, they also have the opportunity to participate in a lunchtime survival club with Mr. Pope.

Following the morning of outdoor learning, the students meet in their pods to discuss and recount the events. As young writers, they begin by brainstorming ideas as a group, meet with a partner to share ideas, then go off to their own writing space to start crafting and recreating a moment in time. The criteria includes hooking the reader, putting the reader at the scene, using their senses, showcasing their writer’s voice and including detail to allow the reader to feel that they are there with the writer.

As you can see from the sample stories included below, the experiences ranged from “I Survived the Waves of McNeill Bay” to “The Best Day of My Life!” Our students will continue these written reflections each Monday afternoon. Growth is already evident, as they have recounted three experiences from 2021 since returning on January 4.

Student Reflections

Anderson Hill
by Emma

I felt the cold breeze sting my face. I gazed out at the calm, empty ocean. It was glittering grandly as I gazed at it, breathing deeply. We were at Anderson Hill. I had wedged myself into a little nook in the rock. I broke my gaze away from the ocean. I sighed. I decided to stare at the trees instead. I scanned the little huddle of trees until I spotted a tree with branches sticking out at awkward angles, with a few surviving leaves fluttering bravely at the tips of the branches. I felt the moss below my hand. I brushed my hand against it. I peeled off a bit of the flaking moss. I let my hand drift down to my leg. I gently set it down, and sighed. In, out. In, out. In, out. I let a small smile slip on to my face. This trip was going to be awesome.

I Survived the Waves of McNeill Bay
by Colton

We were walking past McNeill Bay, then Mr. Pope decided to go down on the concrete. I thought, “Oh no!” You might be wondering, “That’s not so bad.” Suddenly a giant wave came thundering up! It splashed everywhere! I got soaked. That’s why it’s going to be bad. We kept walking. Level 1 complete. On to level 2!

The first part of level 2 was where we had to move branches out of our way. At the end we had to do this jump over water. That only meant one thing. FLOOR IS LAVA! I made the jump. Level 2 complete. On to level 3.

I had to sprint across rocks before the water touched me. It took 3 seconds for it to go out and 2 seconds to go in. I had a total of five seconds to run across the rocks. I got across in time! On to level 4.

There was this mud stuff you had to run across before you sunk in the mud. I sunk in the mud. I yanked on it five times and on the fifth time I got it out. Final level.

You had to do this big jump over the water. I MADE THE JUMP! I was so happy to get off the beach! Then Mr. Pope said, “Time to go back to school.” When we got back to school. I was so happy to be alive! I completed THE WAVES OF MCNEILL BAY!

Outdoor Ed Experience
by Anya

“Quick! Get your compasses!” said Abi.

We were on Anderson Hill ready to hide our stuffy, an owl. The owl had a rope tied firmly on it’s leg, making it swing back and forth as I held the rope in my hand. I stared at it in disgust.

“Where should we hide the owl?” said Yingshan, knowing that we didn’t pick the owl ( since it was the only stuffed animal left, after a cute otter had landed in the dirt and launched in the air away from us by Abi).

That’s what happened. Isabel turned the housing of her compass.

“Let’s do…. 200 degrees,” said Gabby, noticing Isabel slowly turning the housing.

“That’ll lead us to the bushes up north,” said Isabel.

Then we started counting paces. “One, two, three, four,” we said in unison.

The Best Day of My Life
by Piper

We were at Anderson Hill when suddenly Daniel shouted, “Found it.”

Then Mr. Pope gathered us all in to take us to Chickawich. When we got there the waves were crashing against the concrete. Just then Mr. Pope said, “Hands up if you are feeling adventurous!” I did not put my hand up but we did something adventurous, all right.

We went down to a path which is closer to the ocean than the sidewalk. We walked along it. You pretty much got splashed every second. It was quite fun so Kayleigh and I stepped in closer to the water and “sploosh,” Kayleigh and I got splashed right in the face. My toque felt like it was in a puddle of water. This is my exciting experience at Anderson Hill and Chickawich.

Walbran Park
by Abi

We were walking up the road to Walbran Park when we stumbled across a huge Douglas fir with seagull feathers and bird bones at the bottom. We all looked up and there, right there, was a huge eagle nest right above our heads! “Look he got a catch!” Mr. Pope said as the bald eagle came soaring above our heads with a duck in its claws. It looked proud of its catch, showing off. It had an estimate of a 9 foot wingspan. It looked so majestic, flying above our heads. It had a white tail and head and had a beautiful dark brown body. It flew out of our view, everybody said “Wow!” or “Cool!” We left the nest and started heading up the road to Walbran Park. We stopped at multiple trees and plants, such as sword ferns, licorice ferns, Scotch broom, Daphne, and trees like more Douglas firs, Arbutus, and cedar.

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