I was at the Wilson Center, planning the various field trips I’d be leading over the next week, when Nina and Collin both commented on my love and enthusiasm for anything PTM field-trip related. I’ve been a hands-on learner and field trip lover my entire life; while I love school, and I love being a reading teacher and helping our kids in the classroom at PTM, I live for the times where my kids get to try new things and learn outside of the classroom.
Planning and creating field trips has been my favorite aspect of my job at PTM so far. I love the feeling of having something exciting and special planned for our kids to do just for them— whether it’s to teach and learn, encourage them in some way, or just to have fun, field trips provide our kids chances to do new things and be a part of a community beyond PTM.
This week, we had the opportunity to take a group of kids on a new experience— a trip to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) to see a reader theatre’s production of Eric Carle’s classic kids books, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me, and Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See? After reading about the free opportunity (sponsored by TPAC and Regions Bank) on social media, I asked if this was a possible field trip for our students, realizing what a unique and fun activity this would be for our kids. With some planning and coordinating, we were able to make it happen!
Eleven students participated— primarily students involved in reading camps or reading mentorships; they were led by four chaperones. One of my favorite aspects of the night was having one of our high school chaperones, Ed’Neika and her mentee, Makiyah, get to participate in the field trip together! It was awesome to see two of our high school girls, Ed’Neika and Amaya, step up as leaders and influencers of our younger kids on the trip.
Once at TPAC, the lights went down and the stories began springing to life on the stage, courtesy of a theatre/puppet troupe. The kids all watched as the illustrations of Eric Carle appeared on the stage as brightly decorated props, and as the characters moved and seemingly floated through the air. The performers did a separate performance for each show, ending with a life-size bear puppet (among other animals) on the stage for their portrayal of Brown Bear, Brown Bear. They literally brought the books to life! I was mesmerized, and the kids were too— especially our girls. At the end, the performers came on stage and did a Q&A session where they detailed how the different puppets and props were created and orchestrated for each performance.
It was such a fun opportunity for our kids— a chance to go to TPAC and watch a performance of the same books they’ve read at PTM. It took some planning and coordinating to make it work, but it was worth it when the Very Hungry Caterpillar came to the stage and the kids spoke the story along with the narrator. It was a magical night seeing new things and learning about books in a completely different way.
This is why field trips at PTM are my thing— I love helping our kids discover magical things they would not learn or experience otherwise.