Stephanie posted this and it reminded me of my 5th grade teacher Mrs. W.
I went to school in St. Charles, Missouri at the time and Mrs. W was known as a "nature freak" by the students. I had only been at this particular school for 4th grade, so I really had no idea what this really meant.
When I showed up for the first day, Mrs. W had made a name tag for each student by pressing leaves and flowers between sheets of tracing paper, writing our names boldly on them and placing them in plastic badge holders.
I immediately thought that Mrs. W would be right on my wave length and I was right.
Mrs. W was a homesteader. She lived on a big farm way outside of St. Charles and she loved all things natural. She was particularly enamored with Australia and the outback (the real one, not the steak house).
Throughout the school year, we learned many things such as how to card, spin and dye wool. I really loved doing that and have often thought of taking it up as a hobby (as if I need another one). She also helped us make an oven using a box, aluminum foil and coat hangers. She was quite the MacGyver! We actually cooked english muffin pizzas in this oven at a picnic at the end of the year.
During a week at the local arboretum, we learned about dandelion salad and wine, how to identify poke berries and other wild plants and how to survive a week in a one-room cabin loft with no electricity. What a tragedy for 11 year-old girls- let me tell you (the boys had a cabin of their own)! We composted our scraps at supper and I got to play a mountain dulcimer. We also did many different experiments and hands-on lessons involving the food chain and making things with the plants in the woods. THAT is a field trip I will never forget!
Mrs. W often took us to the park that adjoined the school yard. The park was located in the middle of a large wooded area. There were a bunch of small, winding paths wrapping through the woods. We'd each tote along a section of newspaper, our journal and a pencil. We'd each find a tree to sit next to, place our newspaper on the ground and write in our journal. I especially enjoyed it when we got to go into these same woods and find a spring wildflower to paint. I remember painting a Jack in the pulpit and Dutchman's breeches. To this day, whenever I see a bleeding heart plant, I think of Mrs. W.
Mrs. W gave us points through the year that we kept in an account. There was a different "banker" in our class each week and that banker took care of deposits and withdrawals. We actually had paper checks and deposit slips that we had to fill out for this. At the end of the year, there was an auction and we could buy items.
The most coveted item at the auction was a trip to Mrs. W's house. You would learn all about her farm and she would teach you how to make fried chicken. I think there were 3 of these trips available. I wanted one so badly, but alas, it wasn't meant to be.
Even though she flunked me in math one quarter (there is still a debate about that grade *wink*), I loved Mrs. W's class. I was sad to go and move on to the middle school the next year. She is one of those rare teachers who made a great impression on her students by implementing real life into her lessons.