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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sensory Deprivation as a Writing Tool!

     I went on an interesting overnight field trip to YMCA Camp Bernie two weeks ago with a fifth grade class from our school while their teacher taught my class for two days. We had many objectives. The first was for our school to mix with another in the district (there are 11 elementary schools) to get the kids ready for middle school. Other objectives were to help the kids gain confidence and self esteem with a night away from their parents, plus awareness of themselves and their surroundings. 
     Each day, our meal wastes were separated into liquid waste, food waste, garbage, and compost. Students soon realized just how much food they were wasting and promised to watch what they threw out in the cafeteria back at school.
     Students challenged their fears through rock climbing and a walk in the woods in the pitch black. I consider myself to have great eye sight, even in the dark...and I had a tough time! We had to use our senses, especially hearing and touch (through what we stepped on) to find our way to a clearing and back. I was so proud of the kids for having done it because I know I was spooked myself! 
     The next day we had several activities, including a sensory development walk. Students were blindfolded and put on a rope course that had them walking deep into the woods. Once they reached the end, we walked them around by the hand, then led them to a tree. They had to keep the blindfolds on and explore the tree so that they knew it well and would be able to find it later. Once we removed them from the area, they'd have to find their way back to it using their senses of touch and smell. 
 noticing a decline 

 a parent chaperone makes sure no one gets hurt

 our camp guide giving directions

 using the senses

 talking to themselves about the tree's attributes (felt sticky sap, smelled and felt pine needles, scars in the sap, a cut limb, etc.)

feeling around the tree, including the roots

    Students were brought back to a clearing to take off their blindfolds. We walked them around in circles so they had to rely on their senses to find the tree instead of memorizing the path we walked them on. It was really interesting hear them describe their trees and even more interesting to listen to the descriptions they had written once we returned to school! I know they'll never write just "a tree" again!

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