Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Three Year Old Field Trip: Christmas at Ardenwood Farm

H never had a single trip during his three years of preschool. I love him dearly, but I think the preschools he attended understood that part of the reason I put him in school was so I could have a break from him and his frenetic activity. But for some reason, the preschool R attends believes that I put him in school solely for his enrichment, which includes field trips. It never even occurred to me that a preschool would go on field trips so I hadn't asked before enrolling him. I found out the first day of school that he had a field trip the next week (I enrolled him mid-year). Of course, once he started it was easier to keep him in the program as opposed to switching to another school. So far we've done pottery at Color Me Mine, played at the water park, picked pumpkins for Halloween, and this past Monday we went to Christmas on the Farm at Ardenwood Historical Farm.
Anyone who lives in East Bay and wants to visit a working farm should consider a trip to Ardenwood in Fremont. The Regional Historic Landmark opened to the public on July 28, 1985, and includes a farm, a large forest and a mansion now called the Patterson House which was first constructed in 1857 by the farm's original owner, George Washington Patterson. The field trip with R's class involved a litany of activities and a strict schedule that Teacher Grace had us follow. First we toured Patterson House all dressed up for the holidays. They told us before we went in that all the things were old and we shouldn't touch them. I was thinking, maybe ten 3 year olds shouldn't be going in then. I underestimated the power of Teacher Grace. The children were very respectful of the artifacts, even in the toy room. Maybe the scary doll wasn't so inviting to touch! They were allowed, though, to touch and eat the cookies that the volunteer had baked in the wood-burning oven.

Next was a craft in the old granery followed by a visit with Jiggs the horse. Two minutes with Jiggs, then off to the train ride through the monarch butterfly forest. I think the guide was saying that there were 10,000 butterflies there but I couldn't be sure because of course, that's when Baby E decides she needs to eat lunch. The guide on the train ride cut up some eucalyptus for us to smell. It must have had something to do with the butterflies but again, not quite sure. The field trip ended with a visit with Father Christmas. R wouldn't follow my pleas to please look at the camera so there aren't any that I can use for our Christmas card. So I'll share them here. As you can see, Baby E did a much better job!

The park hosts many events, a Celtic festival, an Independence Day celebration, the Washington Township Railroad Fair on Labor Day, a Renaissance Faire in September, The Harvest Festival in October, a Zydeco concert, and many Halloween celebrations, complete with a haunted railroad. It's definitely a place to check out with kids if you are looking for something to do one weekend. Although, chances are, your kids will probably come here on a field trip sometime during their elementary school years.

I think what R likes the best about field trips is telling H about them afterwards. H always gets upset because he wasn't able to do it, even if it's something he's done before. We had a pretty good time even though R couldn't spend as much time as he wanted visiting with the animals because we had to rush back to pick up H from school. I'm seriously thinking of switching R's school next semester, not just because of all the field trips. Right now he only goes two days and I think I need him to go all day every day. Well, at least three half days. Field trips can wait till kindergarten!

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