I was fortunate enough to tag along with my son's young kindergarden class on their field trip today. We spent the morning visiting the Audubon center in Debs Park. This Center is one of the best kept secrets in Los Angeles. It's both incredibly beautiful and educational. If you live in LA or are just visiting, I highly, highly recommend making this stop for yourself and your kids.
Our family has been visiting often for a few years. They have strollers, and kid backpacks, they have binoculars and field journals all to borrow for free while visiting the center or for going for hikes in Debs parks. There is a small cave to play in, two ponds and rocks and trees to climb on. It's a little paradise for kids. But I had never experienced a field trip or had the pleasure to see their teachers in action.
I was so incredibly impressed by their curriculum that I had to write about it. The kids started off under the pink pepper trees for their bird anatomy lesson. In this beautiful outdoor classroom they learned all the parts of a bird, what they are for and how these parts vary in different kinds of birds. Then they looked at a few taxidermy local birds.
This one is an Oriel. We then explored the indigenous plants in the center and what kinds of birds and butterflies like each plant. The kids could touch and smell. Some of them smelled incredible (the plants, not the kids).
After having a picnic lunch in the shade and playing in the center a bit, we all went on a bird-watching hike. The kids got real binoculars and were given some safety tips about hiking. They were told about how to respect the land while walking on the butterfly trail. We stopped to listen to birds and the kids looked for them in our binoculars. One of the teachers carried large laminated images of the birds we listened to.
We then hiked back to the center. All in all the hike was maybe a mile. The kids looked at all kinds of things with their binoculars, spiders, ground squirrel homes, plants. The kids had so much fun exploring this natural world mainly because the curriculum was so rich, age appropriate and layered.