Official Blog of the Education Exchange Corps

Sunday, July 21, 2013

First Field Trip: Soulard Market

Sorry for the late post. We've been working hard to get ready for our Shakespeare scenes we're putting on in the park this Friday. More posts about that coming soon.

On the way to the market
Two Fridays ago, the EEC had its first field trip. We packed the kids in the bus and headed over to Soulard Market. A few days before our trip, I saw our partners at Gateway Greening teach our kids about the different food groups. Once the bus stopped, we divided the kids into four groups, gave each group pencil and paper, and had all of them participate in the Great Foodstuff Scavenger Hunt. 

Each group had to find as many food items as possible and organize them by food group. Whoever had the most foods in each food group would get points.

Hopefully now, having charged the children with a purpose, we could unleash the groups into a crowded space and expect more than aimless wandering.

Apples and melons and pears, oh my!
We could hear the hum of undifferentiated noise up ahead, a mixture of boxes dragging and being emptied, shoppers talking and buying, sellers shouting out prices and explanations. As we turned into the first lane, created by a row of vendor stands on either side, there was an explosion of color and excitement. Fruits and vegetables everywhere! 

The Scavenger Hunt was on.

The older kids needed more motivating and the younger kids needed more reminding, but the game channeled the kids' excitement and gave them a reason not to run too far off.

Some serious learning going on in the background
Some kids brought money with them to buy food, and maybe a few kids got a dollar from a teacher or two. I eventually realized that some of my kids were getting discouraged by the price signs, not understanding the difference between price per unit and price per weight. 

I tried to explain it to them, but then I decided it would be better if they figured it out in practice. Some very patient vendors introduced our kids to the foodstuff marketplace with great success.

This required a rock to open

As much as Soulard was a treat for our kids, I think it was great for the regulars there too. Many of the vendors enjoyed being teachers for a few minutes. Several patrons smiled as kids mispronounced new vegetables they had just discovered. One man asked me what grades of kids had come (to which I responded, "All of them!"). 

The trip became more than a learning experience for our kids. It was a moment of inclusiveness in which our community came together to educate children. That's what our program is all about.

As my group of kids got to the end of the first row of food displays, there was mumbling of joining the other kids on the playground. 

I reminded them of the Scavenger Hunt, of how champions pay the price now, of how victory would taste as sweet as the peaches some of them purchased. And so we continued on, finding the mother lode of dairy products attended to by a vendor who explained how mold is used to make cheeses.

Champions did pay the price. We had close to 170 different food items on our list. And we still got to play on the playground.

Play time

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