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    Gallivanting on the Great Wall: Upper Primary’s Outdoor Adventure


    16 Jun, 2017

    10 : 00

    • Last week, Year 5 and 6 students at the Yew Chung International School of Beijing went on one of their most immersive, exciting, and challenging field trips yet: athree-day,two-night excursion in the Chinese countryside and on the Great Wall. For many students, this was a field trip full of first-time experiences as well as physical and mental challenges, but thanks to the support of their classmates and teachers, everyone had a wonderful time! 

      Beyond the fun and games, experiences like these outside the classroom are vital for student development in many ways. For enterprising parents who want to provide a similarly enriching experience for their own children during vacations this summer, our educators have offered a few sample activities and tips for how to get your child learning and developing while still having a fantastic time on holiday.

      Liz Ignoffo, Year 5 Co-Teacher and one of the trip leaders, explained what made this field trip so valuable for student development, plus how parents can replicate some of their activities when school breaks for summer!

      What were some of the activities students participated in during this trip?

      The first day we went to Mr Ge’s house in Tianxianyu village. Students participated in rotational activities with Mr Ge and (trip organising company) The Hutong team. Activities varied from making the Chinese pancake bing (饼), part of our dinner, to team building activities, to adventure/treasure hunting around Tianxianyu, with students in small groups leading the way and teachers supporting for safety. Mr Ge was our host in Tianxianyu, where we stayed in village homes that evening.

      The second day was the most physically challenging as we climbed the Great Wall together before lunch. After lunch, we had a short hike to our campsite where the students had to set up their own tents, taught by the Year 6 students who got there the day before. We had a delicious BBQ dinner prepared for us on the beach next to our campsite and hot chocolate next to a warm campfire to end the night.

      The third day, and my personal favourite, was water sport activities in the Olympic rowing park, including paddle boarding, kayak relays, and knot tying activities. Each student left the Olympic rowing park soaking wet and with a smile. I would highly recommend this trip to next year’s Year 5 students!

      Why are these kinds of trips important for student learning?

      These kinds of trips are very important for student learning because it teaches them a variety of skills:

      Responsibility: Students had to encourage friend struggling to keep going. They also had to carry all the bags they brought with them. Too heavy, too bad; they had to carry everything they packed themselves. They had to be responsible for their own things. This aligns with YCIS goals by teaching them to be responsible, respectful, and to embrace challenges.

      Teamwork and Leadership: Setting up the tents at the campsite, students had to work as a team. For Year 6 students, it gave them leadership responsibilities and held them accountable for teaching the younger students.

      Culture and Language: The treasure hunts in Tianxianyu were designed to have students discover the uniqueness of the village. It served as a valuable cultural experience for them, and also was a great opportunity for students to use their Chinese in a practical real-world scenario.

      Encouraging New Experiences: Besides pushing themselves physically during the hike, many students were also pushed out of their comfort zones on the first night. Mr Ge prepared many local Chinese dishes the student (and some teachers) had never eaten before. It forced students to give things a go even when it was new or scary. I’m proud to say that no one left hungry and everyone enjoyed at least one of the new dishes they tried on the trip; some even asked for seconds!

      How can parents plan vacations that are both fun and educational for their kids?

      • Plan a vacation that involves physical activities, like walking or swimming. Getting kids physically active is very important for their health and development.
      • Set rules, like your child need to complete a certain number of “chores”, like reading, reading to their sibling, playing outside, etc., before they can earn electronics time. Set a limit for the amount of electronics use too so that they’re actually up and doing more than staring at their phone or iPad.
      • Do some research on your vacation spot and prepare facts for different areas you’ll be visiting for your child to learn about.
      • Plan scavenger hunts for your kids based on where you’ll be staying and what you’ll be exploring. This can be a great way to get your kids more engaged throughout the trip as they’ll constantly be looking for items to check off their list!

      Learn more about how we inspire our students in Primary school on a daily basis by visiting our regularly updated School News page or our Primary School page.