Whew what a way to come back from a holiday week! We jumped right into the Christmas cheer this week with our annual field trip to the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum for their Greening!
Every year the museum invites elementary art teachers to bring a group of third graders to decorate Christmas trees that will be up in the museum for the whole month of December. I usually take a small group of my 3rd grade art club which is 16 kids this year however we are allowed to bring up to 25!
The kids spend months making ornaments and preparing for the trip it is so much fun!
This year’s theme was “Louisiana’s Native American Tribes.” Every teacher I know approaches the theme a different way. I like to let the kids decide our direction. I showed them some Native American art, we looked at pictures of different tribal symbols, talked about the areas they are from and lastly read some Caddo Indian folk tales.
They loved the folk tales. We focused our ornaments on the tale of Buffalo Woman and discussed key elements in the story. I wish I had taken pictures of the process of making the ornaments but it was spread out over so many weeks and we were so busy that I forgot! Whoops!
We settled on making four different ornaments. Buffalo of course, some magic herbs, balls of magic mud, and moons.
After weeks of working the day of the trip arrived and everyone was excited!
Follow the link to see the pictures and activities!
When we arrived we were directed straight to our tree and informed our “Elves” would be with us shortly. The Elves are student council members from a local middle school and they came prepared with our schedule for the day. Our first activity was to decorate our tree!
The Elves helped pass out ornaments and the kids were great about spreading them around evenly!
After they were finished decorating we still had some time before our next activity. This is when the Elves truly get a chance to shine! They lead the kids in a variety of fun and safe indoor games around the tree. They played the staples like “heads up seven up” and “Simon says.” They also utilized their surroundings with a clever modification of “I Spy” that made use of the historical documents on display near our tree! Then we got the okay to move to our next event. The hands-on activity!
Every year the students get to make an ornament in the shape of a Fleur De Lis to take home with them. This is a huge hit with the kids because some of them get really attached to the ornaments they worked so hard on for the tree and have a hard time leaving them.
Our Elves helped the kids from one side while a different set of Elves was in charge of the glitter and glue! Once of the “Glue Elves” was even a former Judson student and she was so excited to see some kiddos she knew! They were in first grade when she graduated 5th so they were just little babies when she saw them last.
My favorite part of the hands-on activity is that it takes place in the museum’s West Wing Gallery. There’s something so special about seeing your kids making art while being surrounded by ART! The current exhibit is from The Louisiana Society of Animal Artists and it is fantastic. I took some time while the kids were crafting away to walk through the exhibit they even had ballots for visitors to vote for their favorite piece. I absolutely loved the little painting of the fawn. I can’t put my finger on why I just found it adorable and breath taking.
*Side note there were so many kids I couldn’t get very many pictures of the pieces but that’s just more reason for you to head over and take a look yourself :)!
After the hands-on activity we still had a few minutes before it was time for the last big event so our Elves took over with a few rounds of “telephone” and “red light/green light.” Up next was the skit “A Visit with Aunt Tilde.”
The skit features “Aunt Tilde” telling the children all about Louisiana. She covers animals, products, the founding, the Louisiana Purchase, and the Battle of New Orleans. The kids “ooo” “ahh” and even scream as she discusses Louisiana’s animal life while using real taxidermy animals. She lets them know she’s old and tired and may fall asleep. If she does they are to yell “wake up Aunt Tilde” which turns into just a lot of screaming and laughter. Then she sits down and talks about crops grown in Louisiana, where and when they were most popular, and even who became rich and famous from making products out of them.
The last segments of the skit cover the Louisiana Purchase and the Battle of New Orleans complete with giant cut outs of Andrew Jackson and some of those who helped him. It is a very informative skit and seems to fly by.
The last thing the kids do before winners are announced and we head home is have a picnic on the floor around their tree. This ends up being their second favorite part. The kids either bring their own lunch or purchase a sack lunch at school and the museum provides cookies and capri suns for them as well. After they eat I pass out the little “treat” the museum always includes which is always a surprise. This year it was a nice pen. Last year it was a flash light key chain. The top four trees receive cash prizes for their classroom. First place is $150! Our tree did not win but some of my favorite co-workers that are amazing art teachers did so I was super happy for them. We always get back to school while their classes are eating lunch which gives them a few minutes to sit and recoup before having to return to work.