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Social Studies Lessons Come Alive for Students at Greenburgh Nature Center

Fourth grade students at Washington Irving soaked up the sunshine at the Greenburgh Nature Center, along with the experience of returning to field trips after a two-year hiatus. In their social studies class, students have been learning about Native Americans and the settlers during the Colonial period, and the trip to the Nature Center allowed them to see and experience how these people lived.

At the longhouse station, for example, guides showed students how Native Americans built their homes (called longhouses), slept and stored their food, started and tended to the fire and which animal skins they used for clothing and warmth. 

One student named Ellis said that she was impressed by how well the Native Americans used the resources they had but added, “I still think it would be hard to live this way, with no privacy and no bathroom.” A classmate named Sebastian commented, “I’d kind of like to live (in the longhouse) because I’d be away from my Nintendo and learn more about nature.”

Another important lesson was about an invention called a Yoke, two buckets connected by a thick stick that one would put across their back, to carry water and other heavy objects long distances.


Then, in what several said was their favorite part of the trip, students learned about how and when sap could be taken from the sugar maple tree followed by a blind taste test of pure and imitation maple syrup. The majority of students were able to discern which was real and most said they preferred the easy that one tasted. Because the Native Americans had no way to store maple syrup they made concentrated sugar from the sap, allowing for another taste test, which brought smiles to many faces! 

Teachers Jamie Stasuik and Cathleen Caroleo agree that it was wonderful to be back on a field trip and to see how excited the students were to extend their learning beyond the classroom. “Field trips are such an important part of a hands-on learning experience that we have been missing for a long time. Greenberg Nature Center was the perfect outdoor setting for us to get back a piece of normalcy and bond together as a class,” said Ms. Stasuik.