I guess this was the week of field trips or something, since I went along with Zander’s class to Chailluz this Friday. It was just me, the teacher and the kids. If I hadn’t offered to come along, I think she would have been flying solo. Since most of the parents work or have very small babies, coming along on field trips is not usually an option. I find it strange that, in the land of 5 week vacations, more parents don’t take a day to go on a field trip – but I guess it is just the culture.
It was a gorgeous day, and we had a wonderful time. I have now tagged along with this class quite a few times and the kids know me. We met up with Sandra, the maitresse de la foret, and headed out for adventure. The kids were so excited to be in a place where they were free to run around and I loved watching them at play.
The kids are all 7 and 8 years old and are such a great mixture of maturity and innocence. They truly love each other and you see them hugging and hanging out together with heads close and noses practically touching. The photo at right is of Benjamin, Zander’s good friend, with a bouquet for the teacher. On the other hand, they are ruthless in their teasing, are starting to test authority by not listening to the adults and enjoy ‘being sneaky’. They hide behind trees while the group moves on, make little noises during class, etc…. I confiscated a bag of candy from one of them and it was great to see how creative he got in coming up with methods to get me to give it back. “I promise not to eat it.” “I will feed it to the deer” “I will feed it to the pigs.” “I will tell my mother and she’ll be mad at you.” “I will tell my father and he’s a cop, NO, an FBI agent!” Since there’s no FBI in France, I wasn’t moved. I ignored everything, completely wordless, but he was very persistent and kept coming up with them. His friends joined in as well. It was definitely not as easy as taking candy from a baby. (If you were wondering, I did give it back at the end of the trip). Another thing I thought was funny was how, half the time they seemed to be a cohesive, integrated team and other times it was boys vs. girls and they clearly were bitter rivals. We learned about plants and animals and played fun games with blindfolds. Sandra is quite brilliant at her job.
One of the neat games was when she asked them to sit alone and map where they heard bird sounds. I loved how serious they all were while listening (for about the first 3 minutes anyway).
After a picnic lunch, Sandra left us and Madame Faivre and I took them into the forest to find the animals. It took about half an hour of walking before we found what we had been seeking. Active, hungry for dry bread, deer and boars.
Bread tossed, we headed back towards Le Petite Ecole dans la foret. The kids were playing around – you can see the train they were creating at right! When we arrived and had a drink, we realized there was still over an hour until time for the bus to arrive. Well,if you are in the woods with time to kill, there is only one thing to do. Build a cabine (fort). Growing up with a forest in my back yard, being a girl scout for 12 years and attending years of camp have given me some experience in this area. I was happy to help the kids who eagerly worked as a team to go into what they were calling “Le Foret Noir” (The Black Forest), which was a group of pine trees down in a hollow nearby where we were making the cabine.
I was staying near the construction site, showing the kids how to choose the right branches and wedge them into place for security when I heard a faint sound of “Heave, HO! Heave, HO!” coming from the woods. It grew louder each minute and, sure enough, an entire fallen tree made its way out of the wood, carried by at least 6 fiercely proud classmates. It was far too big to be used for any wall of our fort, so the teacher and I worked together to make it the main supporting beam of a heretofore non-existent roof. It was so big it still stuck out about 2 feet on either side!
Here are a couple shots of the completed cabine which was fully big enough to hold the whole class. They did a great job.
We headed back to school, exhausted! I was really glad I had a chance to go along. This should be a required field trip for kids everywhere, every spring!