The students in Kita Shalhevet (grades 4-6) returned from a wonderful 3-day trip to Ottawa last Thursday, and they are bringing back more than just great memories of museums, watching the Blue Jay’s game, and going swimming at the hotel. Everybody agrees that the trip was great fun, it was also a learning experience with many opportunities for personal growth. Here are just some of the skills and benefits that MJDS children are gained from this experience.
Research, Planning, and Decision Making
Shalhevet students were involved in the trip from beginning to end, the adventure started a few months ago when they began organizing the whole trip on their own. They set a budget, researched locations, and compared pricing. They prioritized area and amenities, deciding that a swimming pool and suites were a pre-requisite, and finally found a hotel that suited all their needs. Next they set their minds to transportation, which was not an easy task as Via Rail kept providing them with contradictory information. They considered taking a bus but eventually found a way to make travelling by train work. They researched different point of interest in Ottawa and consulted a map for distance and the best methods of transport. There were many discussions about meal planning and the children learned how to come to compromises that would satisfy the group.
Being involved in the process of planning a trip is a huge confidence builder. Beyond researching, Upper El kids gained confidence by calling and talking to staff and booking agents. They had to practice talking to and explaining their needs to people they did not know; an invaluable life skill. In the end, Shalhevet students saw their hard work come to fruition, and knew that they had themselves to thank for the trip’s success!
The trip was packed with activities and the group needed to work together to schedule time for all of the things they wanted to do. This meant that not only did they need to build a schedule, but were responsible for getting themselves up and moving early in the morning so that they would be able to fit everything in. The group was able to make it to every activity, and now have even more knowledge for the future of which locations they would have liked to spend more time at(and this can be factored into research for future trips). Despite the busy schedule, this planning meant that there was still plenty of time for swimming and playing games with friends.
The children needed to budget not only for the price of the hotel, train, and museum, but also learned to manage money for bus fare, snacks, and incidentals. This was a great way for the students to practice their math skills as well as learning to be discerning of how much they really needed to spend. Whenever a child was lacking change or needed help there were no lack of friends to provide loans or figure out the breakdown so that everyone had exact fare for the bus.
Compassion and comradeship
Being together in close quarters for three days meant that the children needed to work together and make sure that everyone felt comfortable and safe away from home. There was a necessity for everyone to get along regardless of friend groups, and this led to further intermingling and bonding between students and staff over games and discussion. The was a warm atmosphere helped ensure these goals, and on the rare occasion a child needed support they were greeted with empathy from both teachers and classmates. Everyone was thrilled to have Benji and Guig on the adventure with them and made sure they felt included whether by reading with them or inviting them to breakfast. Conflicts were quickly resolved between students without the need for adult intervention, and the atmosphere was maintained throughout the trip.
With no electronics used on the trip, Shalhevet students turned to old fashioned means of entertainment. Time outside of the museums was filled with student directed opportunities for creativity and learning experiences. These included drawing, reading, writing, songwriting, hair-styling, card trading,
The benefit of being in Ottawa and visiting Parliament and the museums is that each child was able to have a direct, immersive, and personal experience.
The information gained from the museums and the Parliament tour afforded further perspectives on subjects researched in class, while allowing for new ideas to inform and inspire. Shalhevet students prepared for their trip mentally through a series of projects and class experiences. Weeks before the trip Shalhevet went a trip to the Ontario Provincial house so they could understand government on the local and provincial levels before visiting our capital. Parliament Hill was a highlight, where the children had a tour of the inner working of our government, and viewed the massive and beautiful library which they were told contains the Harry Potter series. They visited the Peace Tower which provided a view across the river to Gatineau,Quebec, and learned that a woman comes every day to play a different song on the bells, with a favourite being the Star Wars theme.
Shalhevet students had also previously applied themselves an entire unit on the first inhabitants of Canada, including doing write ups, art projects and miniature reconstructions of first nation civilizations. While visiting the civilizations museum, the children were able to view life sized reconstructions of some of the projects they built in class, and visual depictions of stories they had read. At they same time, they were exposed to many elements of culture they had not yet explored. There will surely be many more projects to come as the children dive deeper into the subject matter they encountered!