Homma elementary school walking field trips
This post is written specifically to support colleagues and visiting TTOCs at Homma elementary school. Teachers from other schools are encouraged to make a similar document specific to their own walkable spaces and places for outdoor learning. The following is a list of recommended walking field trips we have visited with students. Please check with Sarah or I if you’d like to double up on your walking first trip to gain confidence or experience travelling to these spaces.
Preparation for teaching outside
Be sure to consider what you might need while away from the school. Always leave a plan with the office with your destination and estimated time of return. Carrying your supplies in a backpack, or a wagon with younger students, is also recommended.
Reminders for what to pack in your teacher go bag, wagon, or backpack:
- cellphone with school number programmed
- first aid supplies (bandaids, disinfectant wipes)
- epipens or any other necessary student medication
- class list
- hand sanitizer and a few extra masks in case they get wet or lost
- high visibility vest (recess duty vests available in the office if you don’t have one in your classroom)
- seasonal personal sun protection: sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, lip balm
- seasonal extra layer of clothing: dry socks, warm vest, wool hat, gloves and a few disposable hand warmers
- full water bottle
- kleenex, or tissue paper squares, or wet wipes
- a small towel
- personal snack or lunch
- extra school supplies (extra pencils, extra paper, extra clipboards)
- a tarp for creating a shared gathering space
Students should carry in their personal backpacks (with younger students, bags can be carried in the wagon if they are too heavy):
- hand sanitizer and an extra mask
- ziplock bag of school supplies (nature journal, pencil, colouring materials, a clipboard)
- seasonal personal sun protection: sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, lip balm
- seasonal extra layer of clothing: extra socks, bread bags or grocery bags (if boots get wet), hat, gloves, disposable hand warmers, etc.
- full water bottle
- personal snack or lunch
- change of clothes (extra socks, change of underclothes for young ones)
The community garden (Homma elementary old school outdoor classroom)
Time to destination: Approximately 2 minute walk each way with small children
What to expect: Stay on pathways and discourage any stepping into garden spaces. If the community garden is empty of gardeners feel free to let kids explore and look at other gardens, avoid wandering if community gardeners are present. Stay as a group if community gardeners are tending their gardens.
Directions: Leaving the school, have the students line up at the “waiting tree”. Cross Brunswick Drive together and enter the garden at the fence opening. Crossing the road at Brunswick Drive can be unpredictable, be aware of careless drivers. Remain in the road while children cross.
Destination need to know: KEEP CHILDREN’S FEET OUT OF GARDEN BEDS, particularly community garden beds that are inviting with stepping stones through them. Children must remain on pathways and are not to run, jump over garden beds, or play chase in the gardens. If there is snow on the ground, beware of low garden bed edging. Best to keep children out of the garden when there is snow in the ground.
Closest bathroom: Homma elementary school
The school-yard garden and loose parts play area
Time to destination: Approximately 1 minute walk each way with small children
What to expect: Community members use the public path often. Expect fast moving bicycles and runners. Frequent gatherings of picnickers in the field on warm days. Teach children to be aware of their place in space, and to share the path if they are using chalk on the sidewalk, for example.
Teaching tips: Establish boundaries for your group to avoid drifting into other class spaces. Lay out a tarp as a boundary marker to establish freedom within limits and define a clear home space. Trees can provide shade, pop up tents can provide shelter from the rain. Slow down, chat with your kids. Use a pool noodle to reinforce physical distancing.
Closest bathroom: Homma School
Time to destination: Within the school
What to expect: Mostly quiet area for reflections and quiet learning activities. Be mindful of classrooms that face into the courtyard. When their windows or doors are open, the sounds are amplified.
Directions: Access the courtyard from the door in the EAST hallway across from room 112
Destination Details: The courtyard is in the centre of the school east of the gymnasium. It can be accessed by any of the classrooms that face onto the courtyard, or from the gymnasium, or from the east hallway. Currently, we are only using the door across from Room 112 for access in and out of the courtyard. The door LOCKS from inside the courtyard and closes automatically. Bring your inside master key! You can prop the door open with a chair or a wedge if you don’t have a key. Students can sit on the logs or along any edge of the raised garden beds.
Teaching tips: This is a great space for quiet reading and writing. There are plenty of work tasks to do in this space as well. Pulling weeds from the cracks and sweeping the courtyard are always appreciated. Brooms are by the shed. The mural on the wall can be painted and coloured. feel free to use chalk or non-permanent paints to brighten up the forest outlines. It can be hosed off if necessary. Think of the walls as a giant colouring book! From May to October watering can also be done in this space, please check with Sarah or me for a quick tutorial on how to water without harming the plants first.
Closest bathroom: Student washrooms in the east hallway.
The forest behind Steveston Community Centre (SCC)
Time to destination: Approximately 15 minute walk each way with small children
What to expect: Rarely used by the public, path off Railway to the forest can be well travelled with sometimes cranky bikers and walkers, no car traffic. Teach children to walk single file and share the path.
Directions: Leaving the school, walk north along the pedestrian pathway by the garden. Cross the road at Moncton and take your first left at Branscombe Court, walk along the sidewalk and the path to SCC will be visible at the end of the cul-de-sac. Go West along the path until you reach the forest.
Destination: The forested area is to the north of the pathway. Great for playing games, exploring, and quiet reflections or observations.
Teaching tips: Take your GO BAG and be sure to place your high visibility vest in a central location. All children are required to stay within a sightline of the vest. Practice return protocols before giving kids free range of the space. Spend time discussing stranger protocols and emergency return expectations if your students have not been here with us before.
Closest bathroom: Behind Steveston Community Centre near the splash park
The Westwater hill beside the river
Time to destination: Approximately 10 minute walk each way with small children
Directions: Leave the school and cross the back field. Cross Westwater Drive behind the school. Watch for cars in the parking area. Crossing the road here includes a blind corner! Watch for cars coming east bound quickly around the corner, stand in the road until all children are across the road. Follow the wooden boardwalk along the river until you reach the hill. Be sure to stop along the way and view the estuary from each of the lookouts along the boardwalk! There is so much to discuss and learn on this walk!
What to expect: Well travelled by the public, walkers only, no car traffic. In the spring and early fall, the field by the Murakami house is often full of lawn chairs and book clubs or other social groups gathering. Teach children to walk single file and not to run between gathered groups. On arrival, the hill can sometimes be frequented by families with small children or dogs off leash playing catch. Any kids who have been here with us before will be keen to roll down the hill, run and jump and play quite freely. Please do allow them to continue to play in this way!
Teaching tips: Clearly defined boundaries exist with the sidewalks that form a triangle shape. Remind students to stay within the sidewalks on the grassy area. Keep kids off the metal climbing structure under the covered area, this is a high touch area. The covered area does provide a respite from the rain if it is a wet day, there are benches here to sit on. The board walk is particularly slippery when wet. Remind kids take small steps, no running. Practice return protocols before giving kids free range of the space. Most kids who learn with us have been here before.
Closest bathroom: Public washroom in the shipyards or back at Homma elementary school
London Beach and Farm
Time to destination: Approximately 30 minute walk each way with small children
What to expect: A mix of busy sidewalks along roads, neighbourhood stroll, and separated pathways along the route. Mostly empty beach area that fluctuates in size depending on how low or high the tide is. Lots of logs and beach combing play opportunities. Be aware of tides and current conditions before allowing children to play on this beach. STAY OUT OF THE WATER. THIS IS NOT A SWIMMING BEACH.
Directions: Leave the school and cross the back field. Walk on the gravel path along Westwater Drive behind the school heading East. Stay on the gravel path that is separated from the road. Cross Two Road at the pedestrian controlled crossing, and stay on the gravel path along the farm fields behind the apartments in London Landing. Once you reach the fork in the path behind the last apartment building (image below), you’ll follow the sidewalk down the small hill that leads you south along Princess Street, which will take you through London Landing to a cul-de-sac.
Follow the path between buildings to the river (Image below). This will take you to the marked cross walk. Cross River Road at the designated cross walk. Crossing River Road can be unpredictable, be aware of careless drivers. Remain in the crosswalk while children cross the road, wear your high visibility vest. The gravel path from London Landing to London Farm can be busy. It is a pedestrian path and separated from cars on River road by posts. Teach children to walk single file and share the path. Walk along the separated gravel path, continuing east until you reach London Farm. The best beach is across the road from the farm, you’ll know you are there because there is a small parking lot beside the beach. At high tide, it doesn’t look like much of a beach!
Teaching tips: Bring a wagon with small children. Potentially ride bikes to this location. There is a large bike rack on-site.
Closest bathroom: Public washrooms located behind the caretaker cottage on the London Farm grounds. Check with Kevin to confirm hours the washrooms are open during winter months. You’ll need to cross the road to access. I recommend taking your entire class with you, do not leave half your group at the beach and some on farm property.
Time to destination: Approximately 40 minute walk each way with small children
What to expect: A mix of busy sidewalks, Steveston village separated sidewalks, and foot traffic only pathways along the route. Mostly empty beach area that fluctuates in size depending on tides. Lots of logs and beach combing play opportunities. There is also a large field to explore that sometimes has kite boarders and large kites flying. If you have a great kite, this is the place to fly it!
Directions: Leave the school and cross the back field. Cross Westwater Drive behind the school. Watch for cars in the parking area. Follow the wooden boardwalk along the river until you reach the Starbucks intersection in Steveston, past the Westwater hill (Image below). Follow the path heading west along the sidewalk and over the wooden bridge. Stay on the waterfront path and walk along the waterfront to the Starbucks plaza. Once here, stay on the left side of the road. Teach kids to walk single file and share the path.
Once you pass the cannery, stay to the left (Image below) and take the back alley pathway all the way to Gary Point. Teach children to walk single file and share the path.
Teaching tips: Bring a wagon with small children. Potentially ride bikes to this location.
IMPORTANT: High tides and Winter storms can make waves unpredictable and unsafe in this area. Be aware of tides and current conditions before allowing children to play on the beach. STAY OUT OF THE WATER. THIS IS NOT A SWIMMING BEACH.
Closest bathroom: Public washrooms located in the Padjo’s building by the parking lot entrance to the park.