School got out a month ago and I still feel like I’m playing catch up. Looking back at these pictures, it seems like a lifetime ago. Hallie is so done with 6th grade – she’s ready for Junior High – her friends are equally excited to be moving on.
The last day of school they had a special assembly/graduation for all the 6th graders – a special send off from elementary school.
Sidenote: I grew up in a school district where 6th grade was part of junior high. I thought it was weird when we moved here and they had the 6th graders in elementary school, but I have loved it. There is something about keeping them in elementary school that keeps them young. They don’t grow up as fast and I’m okay with that. But they are ready and I’m excited for all of them.
We surprised the kids when they got off the bus with a water balloon ambush. It was fun watching the kid’s surprised faces as they rushed to coolers filled with balloons. I think my favorite part was watching Steve soak each and every neighborhood kid and then watching them work their hardest to get him back.
We followed up the water balloon fight with a swim party late into the night at a neighbor’s house.
The last day of school is just the start of road trips, family, adventures and lots of swimming with friends and neighbors. It’s good to be a kid in the summer.
Two weeks ago, I was on the sixth grade science field trip to San Diego. And as much as I loved being there with Hallie – it was really quite eye opening. Here’s a few take aways from the trip:
1. I was surprised how many kids had cell phones (most of them) and how many were on them a good portion of the trip. I sat on the bus near one boy who was on his phone the entire time. He didn’t talk to anyone. He didn’t participate in the games they played on the bus. He had his head down and I can’t even tell you what his face looks like because I only saw the top of his head. One girl was reading text messages to me from girls from the other bus who were being mean to her. Have I mentioned I’m not a fan of smart phones at such a young age?
2. The majority of the trip was paid for before ever loading the bus. The kids had to manage money for one lunch at Sea World, a dinner at a fast food restaurant on the way home and any souvenirs they might want, they recommended about $30. They even had a log at the beginning of their exploration book to keep track and budget their expenses of the trip. Some kids brought well over the suggested spending money – and spent all of it at Sea World on over priced trinkets. One girl in our group spent all her money at Sea World. Then borrowed $6 to make sure she had enough for dinner on the way home. However when we went to Seaport Village after Sea World she just had to have the small glass full of pink sand and sea shells, so she spent the $6. She was out of money. She thought it was unfair that she couldn’t buy anything at the aquarium, it just wasn’t fair that every one else seemed to be buying the things they wanted and she couldn’t. I was a little confused and frustrated. I don’t expect 6th graders to manage money perfectly – there is definitely a learning curve. But they were given tools and as chaperones we continued to remind them and help them along and some were just oblivious. But I want it. You don’t have money. That’s not fair, I want it….it made me really stop and evaluate how we teach about money at our house.
3. It’s interesting to watch your kids with their peers. I often see Hallie spending time with her close friends but I haven’t really seen her outside of that small peer group. This trip I was able to observe from afar how she interacts. She’s quiet and reserved. She doesn’t seek attention and doesn’t want attention. She’s a rule follower and it makes my mom heart proud to know that. She is helpful without being asked.
4. Like Hallie, I’m a rule follower and I expect others to do the same. What I recognized on this trip is that we don’t always expect kids to follow the rules that we set. For example, as we were nearing the end of our trip, we made one final stop to eat dinner. Before unloading, the guide set down some rules. One being, the kids absolutely could not have soda or ice cream on the bus. She reiterated this rule several times. By the time we got in line there was a large group already in line placing and receiving orders. Every one of them had soda or ice cream. The guide was in line and the kids behind me asked her why everyone was getting soda. The guide made an announcement and reminded everyone they couldn’t have soda. But the kids behind me noticed that she wasn’t taking the drinks away, so they ordered drinks as well. Hallie wanted a drink, but also wanted to follow the rules, so she went without. One of the few who went without. As I watched all the kids walking to the bus, I pointed out to the guide, that she was going to need a large trash bin for all the drinks, but she insisted she would make them throw them away. She didn’t. 80% boarded the bus with the sweets and drinks and the kids that followed rules looked at them with envy, probably thinking to themselves they should’ve broken the rule too. It made me realize, we’re not doing our kids any favors by making rules and then not following through. Either don’t have the rule at all, or follow through. Kids shouldn’t get used to breaking rules because they don’t apply to them or because they’re the exception. They will always want to be the exception.
5. Spending almost 20 hours on a bus full of 6th graders is not my ideal mode of transportation – but I had a great time and I would love to go again with my boys.
We made it to the last day of school! And these photos are evidence that a year of school makes you grow up just a little bit. These photos are also evidence that it’s time for summer haircuts! We are stocked with sunscreen and swimsuits that fit – we’re ready for a summer in the sun.
Make your own first and last day photos with this tutorial.
Our second day in San Diego was spent at Sea World. Of course, this quickly became the highlight for the week. It was informative and interesting – but more importantly it was fun (mostly because of the rides and we rode them over and over again). You know what was not so fun – trying to keep track of 9 girls with different interests at Sea World! But we didn’t lose anyone or even misplace anyone for that matter.
The kids had a book they were required to fill out while they were at Sea World. They could ride one ride upon arrival, but then they needed to complete their packet before riding other rides. The girls were so excited, they wanted to ride the biggest and scariest ride. At least some of them did. Hallie did not. She is not a thrill seeker, she likes to feel safe. But I love roller coasters and I figured she would love it once she tried it (space mountain was her favorite ride at Disneyland when she was 7).
She sat in line watching others ride the ride, paralyzed with fear. A friend next to her in line bailed and Hallie was ready to walk out with her. I did my best sales pitch. She was convinced she would fall out of the ride when it went upside down. Yet, the whole time she watched, miraculously no one fell out!
I decided to sit next to her and hold her hand throughout the ride and I will be the first to admit – it was more intense than I was expecting and even more intense for Hallie. She swore she would not ride the ride again. A couple hours later after our books were complete, her friends were all jumping back on the ride and she was timid as could be – and they convinced her to ride. Something clicked in her and her fear was suddenly gone – she went three more times after that because it was just that fun. I was happy to see her face her fear and really enjoy it. At that point – she was ready to ride every ride in the park.
One ride – the Manta – had no lines and we would get off the ride and get right back on. I think we ended up riding it 11 times total for the day. 6 times were one right after the other. After the 6th time, my head started feeling a little light and we made that the last run of that ride for the day.
Our final destination on the last day was to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. This was my least favorite stop. It probably didn’t help that we had to drive over two hours to get to it (add that to our 8 hour drive home and it made for a long day). Once we arrived, we had two hours to see everything. Unfortunately, it was packed with other school groups and it made it a mediocre experience.
They’re adding on to the aquarium so perhaps one day it will be amazing, but it was just a basic aquarium. I think we could’ve had the same experience at the aquarium 30 minutes from where we live. I think the kids liked it – but most were just asking to go to the gift shop so they could buy souvenirs. I’m suggesting they find another oceanography experience or perhaps a closer aquarium!
After the aquarium it was back on the bus for the long ride home. The company that manages this field trip did a great job at entertaining the kids on the bus – I was impressed with their bag of tricks. And all was well…until several kids started throwing up when we were a half hour from home and then I was done and ready to get off the bus and wash away all the germs!
I am so happy it worked for me to go with Hallie. I’m grateful she still wants me around and was really excited to have me with her. I loved spending time with the kids and the other parents. I enjoyed learning right alongside the kids – there is always so much to learn. I’m grateful to teachers who organize this trip every year. I’m grateful we were riding on charter buses and not school buses. 🙂 I look forward to going again with my boys!
At our elementary school, every year, the 6th graders go on a three day science camp adventure to San Diego and study oceanography. Hallie has been looking forward to this day for two years. This whole year has been a build up to this adventure – and I was lucky enough to accompany her as a parent chaperone. Spending three days with her and her friends (and friend’s parents) was awesome – I could do without the 20 hours in a bus full of 6th graders – especially when kids started throwing up!!
We participated in three main activities: A floating lab (fishing boat), Sea World and the aquarium.
After riding for hours on a bus, our first stop was the floating lab – a fishing boat that took us out to the open ocean. The kids were instructed to stop eating hours before this and then most took motion sickness pills and I think all of that was good advice. There were only a few who started to feel queasy. I think most were unprepared for how cold it was – even though they were instructed over and over again to dress warm. I suppose its hard for someone packing a bag when it’s 97 degrees out to think they would ever need a coat. Hallie and I were prepared and I was so grateful to not be cold.
After trawling the ocean floor, the nets were pulled in and the findings were examined. Hallie was probably sitting a little to close to the bucket for her comfort and I have several pictures of her with curious/disgusted faces!
After they explained what was in the nets, they kept a couple species (that were safe for the kids to examine up close) and put them in the touch tanks for the kids to touch and feel. Then they examined the microscopic particles of the ocean water. Hands on learning is so valuable and even I learned so much on this excursion.
The next morning we ate breakfast at Children’s Pool in La Jolla. We learned that this seawall was erected to create a safe place for children to wade and play in the water. However, over the years, more and more seals have inhabited the area and have had their pups on this beach. They even had the beach closed off when we were there because pups had been born the week prior. They said its still open to the public for swimming and wading but the seals have first priority and they do shut it down!