Waldorf Field Trips – The Inside Scoop

||| What our teachers have to say:

Gr 3 visit Napa Valley’s Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park

Field trips at Berkeley Rose allow students to explore aspects of the curriculum they are studying by immersing themselves in that world for a single day, a few days, or even a week. Children learn best by doing and experiencing rather than by just talking and reading about the world, and we as teachers find ways to bring a hands-on curriculum for our exploration of topics we are studying.

– Nicole Mathers, First Grade Teacher

At our recent field trip to the Bale Grist Mill, the children were completely immersed in the history of the mill and process of making flour. They could smell the old wood, hear the creaking and groaning of the great water wheel, and could see the path of grain as it was cleaned and ground to flour. The experience went far deeper than what I could achieve talking about it in the classroom!

– Momo Sakai, Third Grade Teacher

Day trips widen students’ horizons and give them experiences in the “real world”. It is one thing to build a model house in third grade and another to visit a construction site over a period of time to see the stages of laying a foundation, building the frame, putting on a roof and then siding.

Today’s students benefit greatly from camping trips given our city lifestyles which often only widen the nature deficit of modern life. The students have a chance to interact with the natural world, to observe it, to be challenged physically, and to exist in it without all the comforts of home. This builds resilience, character, and ultimately, confidence in their own abilities.

– Sylvia Hurdle, Second Grade Teacher

Gr 3 field trip to Three Springs Biodynamic Farm

For me, field trips offer practical experiential learning beyond what the classroom can offer. For example, if you are in a Geology block, few things can beat the bonding experience of going to the beach together and identifying sources of erosion right in front of you. In addition, actually seeing places where the earth has bent in upon itself representing a fault line, or digging for crystals and finding them in the earth, makes the students really feel the reality of the subject. Sure, you can grow salt crystals in your room, but finding quartz in some old mine on your own with your classmates? This is a memory that will never be lost, filled with joy and wonder.

– Remedios Loosli, Sixth Grade Teacher

Field trips don’t have to be far away or complicated to be effective. In Business Math, we walked along College Avenue. What does this business sell? … What does this business sell? …  Storefront retail is easy. But then we walk into a bank, cavernous, silent, like a church, no shelves with items for sale. What does a bank sell? …  It really made the students think.

– Henri Ducharme, Math Specialist

Gr 4 visiting a state park
Gr 6 visit the laundromat

Field trips can be valuable ways for students to experience service learning and work by engaging with their community and helping to care for it. On a trip to the Alameda Food Bank, my students spent the morning sorting and packing food donations. We made a point of going after the holiday season, when the number of people volunteering drops drastically. After our shift, we were able to see actual numbers – how much food we prepared, how many people would benefit from our work- that gave us a much clearer picture of what effect our volunteering had. On our 8th grade trip, we spent a day in Shasta, helping to clear trails- it was a fulfilling experience not only to be out in the beautiful landscape of Northern California, but to be able to help keep it beautiful.

– Sean Chiki, Eighth Grade Teacher

Gr 7 visit the local fire house
The pedagogy of Waldorf Education puts a lot of value on rhythm and routine, which provide a soothing, stabilizing environment in which to learn, especially for the younger child. Punctuating that routine with deliberately chosen exceptions to the rule generates an element of excitement and introduces our students to new cultures, people and experiences. Learning together outside the classroom keeps students engaged and involved in each particular subject block. Because these excursions are unique, they are among the things students remember most about their time in primary school.

At Berkeley Rose Waldorf School, field trips begin at the end of Second Grade, with a teacher-led family camping trip. This trip helps students orient themselves to sleeping in a tent, supporting the class with chores, and following their teacher’s lead during activities while also having the comfort of a parent at the end of the day.

Gr 7 orienteering field trip
Day trips are also an important piece of field trips offerings, with off-campus hikes happening weekly as early as Nursery. In first through 8th grade, day-long trips are undertaken to supplement the classroom curriculum. These include visits to museums, libraries, the local fire house, or a biking expedition which is part of a wayfinding/orienteering block in Seventh Grade. 

In Third Grade, students will take their first camping trip away from parents, and for many children this is the first time they are sleeping away from home without a parent nearby. Our school makes annual trips which students look forward to as they rise up the grades, such as the farming and building trip to Three Springs Biodynamic Farm in Third Grade, and a trip to Mount Lassen in Sixth Grade, focusing on geology. In other cases, teachers discover new places to take their students to enrich their particular teaching; these include day trips to  Napa Valley’s Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park, Café Ohlone, Coyote Hills Regional Park for its rich Native American heritage, the Rosicrucian Museum, and less majestic venues such as our local library, and the laundromats, grocery stores, banks and retail shops within walking distance of our school during the business math block in Sixth Grade.

Gr 3 building project at Three Springs Biodynamic Farm
Some students traveled as far as the Waldorf School of Mendocino County or to Summerfield Waldorf School to participate in the Fifth Grade Pentathlon. Eighth graders work hard and are proud to raise their own funding for their end-of-year class trip. Our two graduated classes made educational explorations with Kroka Expeditions<, whose trips are designed to challenge students in the areas of self-reliance and transcending their limits. One graduating class backpacked in the Lost Coast of Mendocino and the second rafted the Eel River the next year. The students report that these enlivening experiences are indeed challenging, and ones they will not soon forget. 


The class of 2021 shares from their experiences backpacking on the Lost Coast.

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