So, I have just returned from my second field trip with R’s kindergarten class. Again, I survived and again, I am incredibly thankful for amazing elementary school teachers everywhere. I really don’t know how they do it!! Five year old’s are exhausting but they are also incredibly cute and curious. Today’s field trip was to the Queens County Farm Museum in Queens, New York. For those of you who are not familiar with Queens, it is one of the five boroughs of NYC. The other four boroughs are Manhattan, Staten Island, Brooklyn and The Bronx.
I began the day by stopping at Starbucks and filling up with the requisite level of caffeine and then heading to the school. Now, this was a BIG trip because we were going on a school bus!! Not only that, we had to bring a bagged lunch and the kids would be missing library and recess- a big deal for these K students. We all piled on to the bus, did up our seat belts (yes, there are seat belts on yellow buses in the U.S.) and we began the trek to Queens. The bus ride was filled with excitement as the students quickly realized the suspension on the school bus was like that of a roller coaster and their tiny little bodies bounced and jostled through the streets of Manhattan. Empty bags were handed out to the parent chaperones just in case, but luckily all the children managed to keep their breakfast down. We crossed over the RFK bridge and into the borough of Queens.
Being a newbie to the City, I have only been to Queens a few times. Notably, La Guardia International Airport and JFK Airport are in Queens, so that is where you fly in and out when going to and from New York City by air. I have also been to the NY Hall of Science which is a fabulous interactive science centre for children. What I had noticed in Queens was that there was a serious lack of nature, so I was a bit skeptical as to where we were going to find a farm in such an urban space. But it IS always an adventure, so I sat back and watched the graffiti walls and row of apartments disappear as we went further along the highway. Soon enough we had entered a beautiful area of fall coloured trees and landscaped houses. Just like that we seemed to be in the suburbs and out of the concrete jungle. It was very cool, not that the children really noticed as they were still fascinated by the bus and all of the small cars that we loomed over top of on the highway 😉
We arrived at the Queens County Farm Museum and the children were instantly engaged by their surroundings. There were lots of wide open spaces and beautiful trees. Leaves covered the ground and we all delighted in walking through them. I even felt a little lump in my throat as I felt homesick for falling leaves and then I remembered raking and I instantly got over it.
There were numerous animals on the farm and the representative from the museum took the children to see them and taught them various facts about the animals. She quizzed the students on their knowledge of animals and nature as well as patiently answering their many questions. Some of my favourites include: “What type of meat do you eat at Thanksgiving?” All of the students seemed to yell out at once “Chicken!”. Another question she asked was “What do you think you could make with milk?” More than one student answered “Chocolate Milk”. And finally, “What do you think feathers could be used for?”, the answer-“Crafts”. The students has an excellent knowledge of most things but I couldn’t help but think that some of their answers gave them away as true City Kids!
I think the highlight of the trip for the students was the hayride where they were able to take in the sights of the farm, riding in style.
After lunch, and a few encounters with terrifying and frightening bees (again, showing our city slicker side!) the children were able to help make apple cider by participating in compressing the apples into a pumice where the juice is squeezed out to make the cider. They were suitably impressed although one kind soul did ask at the very end- “How do you make apple cider?”. Ahh… the short attention span of a five year old!! Who, am I kidding?, at this point I had zoned out dreaming of apple pie and ice cream…
At the end of our lesson the mandatory pre-boarding pee break was had by all and then we jumped on the bus and headed back to school. There were a few sleepers on the way home but for the most part the kids were still bursting with energy and song. We arrived at the school and handed off the lovelies to their more than capable teachers.
I was glad to be back on non-bouncy solid ground and enjoyed the fresh air as I walked back to the apartment, reflecting on a great day outside of the hustle and bustle of Manhattan life. While our kids might be turning into “City Kids”, I am very glad they have the opportunity to explore all areas around them, including a little bit of country life.