Toronto Special Needs School Trip
As a teacher at Kohai, as school for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, I am always looking for teachable moments. A few weeks ago one of these moments occurred during snack time. While we were eating, one of my students held up his apple.
“What is this part for?” he asked, pointing to the apple stem.
“Well,” I replied, “Where do apples grow?”
“The grocery store!” He answered enthusiastically.
As usual, my students always let me know when there is something that they could benefit from learning. In this case, it was learning about where food comes from. We began a unit on farming, livestock, and crops. An enriching unit learning about these topics culminated in a trip to the Royal Winter Fair.
While at the Royal, students benefitted from hands on interactive demonstrations about growing crops. We saw an enormous pumpkin and got a chance to visit with an apple farmer. He reminded us that apples grow on trees, not at the store! At the petting farm, students had an opportunity to feed and pet cows, goats, and even llamas. At the animal theatre, we saw horses do tricks and goats jump through hoops. While the horses and goats put on a show, we cheered and danced in the bleachers. One of the students volunteered to ask the riders a question. (He decided to ask if the horses enjoyed the pop songs as much as we did).
On top of all of the excitement at the Royal Winter Fair, a highlight of the trip was getting a chance to take the TTC. Although some students ride the subway to school, it is always a thrill to get a chance to take public transit with their friends. Students practised paying for their fare at the collector booth and transferring from the subway to the streetcar.
Outings like this one enhance what students learn in the classroom, putting into context information taught through speech, text, pictures and video. Kohai has always put a strong focus on building skills for independent living. Experiences like these are especially valuable for developing skills in our unique population.
Jessica Wesley, Room One teacher