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Early Learning Centre Year 4 Trip to Khao Yai

10 - 12 November 2015

ELC’s Year 4 Trip to Khao Yai was an incredible adventure in which the children challenged themselves – and the greatest challenge was protecting their bags from those sneaky macaques! The trip could not have started better when were greeted with the incredible sight of an Asian Bull Elephant crossing the road just fifty metres in front of us. What a fortunate and incredible sight! The children were breathless and beyond wonder at this amazing spectacle, and what a fantastic beginning to the trip! A grassland trail and hike through the forest all in one day (due to adverse weather conditions the previous day) helped the students learn about the adaptations of the forest - the highly competitive race for the sun, the very important work of decomposers, those perfectly adapted drip tips and sturdy buttress roots, as well as countless others.

The students also had time to take a break within their walks to listen, observe and to reflect. So often within classroom teaching we ask so much of children, and there is often so little time to reflect quietly. Where better to do that than the forest? One of our activities that the students enjoyed is the sound map. By closing their eyes they depend more upon their sense of hearing. Finding a quiet spot in the forest, the students mapped out all the different sounds - the cackling hornbills, a trickling stream, the scurry of ants, the whooping of gibbons and the rustling of leaves within the wind. These sounds were illustrated however the children saw fit - circles, lines, pictures - but all interpreted in their own shape and size. Some of the children put a large circle and were worried that they couldn’t hear anything. But we discussed that rarity. When does that ever happen? When in Bangkok do you hear peace? After this quiet reflection and sharing from some of the children, a new respect for the forest was discovered.

Although at times you may not see or hear anything, isn’t that incredible? Our lives are bombarded with sounds, noises, advertisements and electronic noises, whereas in Khao Yai there was none of that. The park was a place for quiet reflection and a place where the children could be themselves - to ask questions, discover on their own terms and hopefully remember this landscape for years to come.

The children worked well throughout the trip and environmental art featured highly when asked what the students enjoyed. Environmental art encourages the children to use their surroundings (nothing living or moving though!) to create a piece of art drawing on their own imagination. We had a large variety of amazing artwork and even an unexpected guest to the ELC exhibition - a very cheeky Sambar deer. He really enjoyed one the pieces very much and even took a little nibble before disappearing back into the forest! After making some changes and finding some more leaves the artwork was carefully repaired and soon back to its former glory. The magic of working in the outdoors! I know I will never forget that and I hope that the students tell that story for years to come as I know I have many times already: just another event that would never happen in the classroom.

From learning about the magic adaptations of moths, discovering nocturnal animals in the night drive to working as a team to cross a “toxic river” (don’t worry - this is just a team building activity) the students of ELC worked brilliantly. We were enthused throughout the trip by their fantastic attitude towards leading their own learning in an outdoor environment through curiosity and questioning. Thanks to all teachers and students who made it a truly memorable trip and one that we will not forget for many years. We really enjoyed this trip Year 4 ELC and we look forward to working with you on countless more in the not so distant future.

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