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Work Samples: For Those Out of the Box Activities

Families are encouraged to turn in a work sample during your next learning period that is linked to the field trip that you attended. It helps to insure that Inspire can continue to provide these trips and their educational value.

But sometimes that education value is not so obvious. For example, how do you come up with a sample when the trip to a museum looks like this?

Large popsicles melting out of a wall

Wall plastered with plastic charcoal ice cream cones

Giant Gummi Bears… how giant?

And then there was the sprinkles pool.

These photos were taken from a recent visit to the Ice Cream Museum in downtown Los Angeles. Oh my, did we have a great time. It started off with kids reaching into a cooler filled with Dove chocolates to select two to keep. The child who pulled one in a green wrapper would get a free gift from the gift shop.

There was a banana room with yellow and purple bananas hanging from the ceiling. There was a swing with a seat made to look like a giant Neapolitan ice cream sandwich. And there were delicious samples all along the way; ice cream cups, chocolate mint mochi balls, charcoal ice cream cones, pink pancakes with an ice cream filling and Gummi bears. The screams of delight never stopped. Was this too much fun to have an educational value? Absolutely not.

My understanding is that the educational value is not just about what is in front of the child but what they take beyond what is in front of them.

Sometimes the work sample is easy. As I’m sure with everyone else, we take our cameras everywhere. These provide the best educational photo opportunities.

On a recent Scavenger Hunt at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, fab Family Liaison Nikki Nickila provided a list of activities that ranged from tasting the difference between an organic and non-organic strawberry to questioning the vendors on how long it took them to get their food to market that day.

My daughter and I also discovered a new berry for us, the mulberry. Never heard of it before, looks like worms, tastes like honeydew melon. We bought some, she photographed them in a bowl, researched their origins, uses, vitamin content, wrote a few paragraphs and when attached to the photo, will be submitted as a science sample.

Disneyland’s Small World or Frontierland aside, I learned something new on our last visit. During the tribute to Abraham Lincoln, a song played about the Civil War and two brothers, one in blue, the other in gray. My daughter wanted to know what that meant. She wrote a report about what she found. Online we found photos of the various uniforms and information that when the war first started, no one thought it would last long, so everyone used their own clothing. Of course, that caused confusion because they couldn’t tell friend from foe. The rest is… history.

But what about that Ice Cream Museum? As we do with all activities, I asked my daughter about her favorite part of the Museum. Her answer was to draw a picture of three things: sprinkles, a charcoal ice cream cone and a mint plant.

The first part of her assignment is to research those sprinkles in the sprinkles pool. They are antimicrobial plastic and there are 100 million of them in the pool. The woman who worked at the Museum described them as self-cleaning. She must define that in her own words.

Her second drawing was the charcoal ice cream cone. It was, in actuality, not ice cream but cookie dough without eggs. It wasn’t cold. It made your teeth and tongue black but it was also a cleansing agent, in a few minutes the black was gone. She must describe how that works and why is charcoal edible?

Her third drawing was of a mint plant. In one room of the Museum is real mint plants in soil being harvested for the chocolate mint mochi balls. For this I asked for some info on what mint has to offer.

I ask for complete sentences. She will type up her research, cut it out and paste it next to her drawings. We will submit it as a science work sample. Might even fit into Language Arts.

This is just one approach to finding the educational value in these activities. It’s up to us parents to keep finding and sharing creative work samples so the Family Liaisons can keep planning these delicious trips with big pink Gummi bears.

Janet Jackson is an Inspire Family Liaison serving the Los Angeles area.

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