Springfield Trip 2014
The fourth grade students of Wiley Elementary School went to Springfield today to visit the Illinois State Museum, the Illinois State Capitol, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. This is the second year that I have taken the lead in planning, scheduling, and carrying out this trip. I definitely felt much more confident about what I was doing than I did last year, which was my first time going on a field trip to Springfield since I had been in fourth grade way back in 1993! This trip has been used to kick off our social studies unit on Illinois history, and it was fantastic!
We gathered the students early in the morning, with plans to leave the building by 7:45 am. We actually ended up leaving closer to 8:00 am, but since the bus ride was only an hour and forty-five minutes (due largely to not having any unplanned stops), we were able to get to the Illinois State Museum in time. The students got together in groups of six and, along with their chaperones, were given about an hour to explore the museum, learning about our state’s natural history and the peoples who have lived here over the course of several millennia. I got to travel around from group to group, listening as students eagerly shared what they were learning, pointing out interesting features in exhibits, and grabbing their chaperones’ hands to drag them to the next exhibit!
Visiting a museum such as this was a first for many of our students. We have been to art museums, and some have been to the Spurlock Museum on the University of Illinois campus, but both of those museums are much smaller than the Illinois State Museum. I overheard several students talking about wanting to bring their families to the museum later so that they could see more and share what they had learned in person!
Next we headed to the Illinois State Capitol, where we had a guided tour of the building where our state’s government operates. We got to view the astonishing rotunda, enter the Senate and House chambers, and sit in the old Supreme Court room (now used for Senate committee hearings). We learned that the Capitol cost 4.5 million dollars to build in the late 1800s, and someone was able to use Google on their phone to determine that such a project today would cost over 1 billion dollars today!
Lunch was held in the picnic area of the State Capital Visitors’ Complex. It was a chilly, blustery afternoon, but we were able to eat our lunches quickly and get on the bus to head to our third and final stop of the day: the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. We did not make this a stop last year, and my last trip to Springfield when I was in fourth grade included a visit to President Lincoln’s Springfield home which was, as far as I can recall, the site of the museum and library at the time. The new facility is quite modern and has an amazing assortment of exhibits that help visitors learn more about the life and presidency of our 16th president. One interesting fact I learned was that there have been more books written about Abraham Lincoln than any other person to ever live, except for maybe Jesus Christ! (At least, according to several Lincoln scholars. I did some quick online research and learned there are approximately 15,000 books about Lincoln!)
As with the state museum, the students explored with their chaperones, viewing a multitude of exhibiting and learning more about Lincoln. The museum policy prohibits the use of photography, though, so I didn’t get to capture photos of the students there. I traveled with a group of five students whose chaperone was needed elsewhere for a time, which actually turned out to be quite fun as I have not had an opportunity to get to know them very well. (They are in the other classroom.) We have about two and a half hours in the Lincoln museum and then it was time to head home.
We had a wonderful day at the museum! I took several pictures but my iPad needs to be recharged and the cord is at the school. Come back and check later over the weekend, though, and I will hopefully have pictures posted!