Do you remember when I said last week that it wasn’t all about the destination, but the journey? Yea, well I can now speak from experience that those words were never so true. Everyone said that the museum would be crowded during community days when admission is free. That never scared me away. I am not afraid of crowds. My husband and I could double-team the girls. What never occurred to me is that we may not even get INTO the museum, and that is precisely what happened. When we arrived there was a line out the door and down the museum campus. It must have been a quarter mile long and a 2 plus hour wait. That was not an option. But our day in Chicago was a spectacular one none-the-less. It was filled with all kinds of real life experiences that my girls may be called upon to access some day in class or while they are reading a book. Good ol’ Background Knowledge is what we were building that day. Let me give you some examples.
First, the train into Chicago was a highlight. We pointed out many things such as a baseball field, large planes landing and taking off at O’Hare, and the largest cemetery we have ever seen. Questions were posed, pondered and sometimes answered. We also noticed a stop on the train line called “Mars”. We began speculating why it was called “Mars”, made some predictions (some of them pretty silly), and then we continued talking about life on the planet mars. As it turns out, there is a Mars Candy Bar factory off that stop. Who Knew!? That is one prediction we did not make, but we were using a great reading strategy!
After arriving in the city, walking a few city blocks among the skyscrapers, we took a bus to the museum campus. Eating lunch was next on the agenda and we sat on the picnic blanket next to a harbor and ate lunch. The girls got an up-close view of boats of all sizes. Questions were asked, answered or pondered. When we discovered the line from eternity at the museum, the girls found a hill that many children were making good use of, rolling down on their sides. They had a ball and with the skyline behind them, it was quite the backdrop. Later the girls were all about feeding the birds at another picnic stop on the museum campus. There were three types of birds and they began to realize that the seagulls were loud, bullies and would eat pretty much anything. We talked about the word scavenger. They fed the different birds for over an hour!
Finally, on the way back to the train, my husband picked up a free newspaper and completed the crossword with my older daughter during the ride home on the train. A lot of new word exposure for her during that exercise.
These experiences were just a tip of the iceberg. So much more went on, much of it I don’t even realize. The point here is that the day was about the day and not about the museum. So much experience learning went on that day, much of which my girls will use in the classroom or reading books in their future. That was not lost on me that day.