Field Trips aren't taken as frequently as in the past, so it's necessary to pick worthy locations and connect direct learning to them. The Pioneer Living History Museum field trip is the focus of this lesson plan, but this theme transfers to any school experience the kids have off campus.
It's worthwhile to prepare the kids ahead of time. For this one, I take them to the Pioneer Living History website and bring up the "town map" for an overview tour. We click around on the sites then zero in on the Blacksmith Shop. There is a working blacksmith in the village and the students are always intrigued by the nails, cups, and horseshoes he makes right in front of them. I tell them that this will be a highlight of their trip.
As with many field trip websites, there's a Teacher Resource section. In this section is what the kids will see as well as some puzzles, a Scavenger Hunt, and an informative page about the Blacksmith Shop. During the field trip, each group will have a copy of the Scavenger Hunt- a great way for the kids to focus on what's at each of the historic locations. As students locate answers, a parent fills out the papers.
Next, I show them a 10 minute Youtube video of a man demonstrating how to make a hook via blacksmithing. The kids are interested and it gives them a visual to help with the informative text they'll be examining. They take notes as they watch the blacksmith video. I purposely picked an example of a man in a modern setting so the Blacksmith shop at the field trip will look even better in comparison.
Blacksmith Shop Youtube video:
I start the next section of the lesson by giving each student a copy of the Blacksmith Shop text, Meet Pioneer's Blacksmith. In the Warm Up they watched a blacksmith on the video, so the informational text will be less difficult to read.
We read as a class, taking turns with the paragraphs, Reading "Meet Our Blacksmith". Then students complete the "Examining the Text" worksheet. This worksheet is generic and can be used with any informational text. Upon their return from the field trip students will also use this paper to compare what they read to what they experienced while observing George the Blacksmith. Additionally, this page, and examining the text will give them ideas about what to ask questions about during the field trip.
I remind them that they will be using the Scavenger Hunt to look for important places and items as they move around the Pioneer Village. They are also reminded to pay special attention to their experience in The Blacksmith Shop because they'll complete the activity we started the day before, when we read, Meet Pioneer's Blacksmith.
I've been to the Pioneer Village many times, but this is the first Blacksmith who wasn't dressed in the typical Old West garb. He is a full time Blacksmith in Phoenix, and volunteers his time here and there at the Pioneer Village. I guess part of the deal was he didn't have to wear old fashioned clothes, so he dons a bandana. The kids were fascinated by him, however. He was great at answering questions and keeping them interested in his projects. Here is the Brilliant Fire!
We're home after a successful field trip and the students return to their Meet Pioneer's Blacksmith page. I won't sugarcoat it and say they're excited about this part. In fact, as much as I wanted to bring the activity full circle, next year we will do this part the following day.
First, they complete Venn Diagrams (Student Example Venn 1) that compare the blacksmith from the video to the blacksmith they interacted with on the field trip. (Student Example Venn 2) They do this individually. Next, we complete a Class Venn Diagram with the students coming forward to contribute components. I enjoy hearing the reactions when something completely different is written on the Class Venn Diagram.
Once we've completed the comparisons, it's time to fill out the Field Trip Feedback Form that we utilize for every field trip. I found it in a teacher's resource book many years ago, but I like the way it makes the kids think back on their day, then contribute opinions, and insights from the experience.