Posts Tagged ‘Rip Van WInkle Gardens’

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres is gathering Saturday Celebration posts on her blog. Click the image above to visit.

Early in October, I had an author visit my gifted classroom. Chere’ Coen wrote the book Haunted Lafayette. When she was talking to the students about ghost stories, she mentioned Jefferson Island, and the students did not know anything about a location just down the road. Rip Van Winkle Gardens located on Jefferson Island is a land of beauty while also a place of historical and geological significance. I decided to remedy their lack of knowledge by planning a field trip.

The weather in November can be iffy. On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, we had a cold front and temperatures dipped while the wind blew hard. All that went away Friday, and the sky opened to the sun. Temperatures rose to a comfortable 75 degrees. The heavens were shining on our day.

I invited some other teachers along, so we gathered 32 area gifted kids from second through sixth grade. They watched a video and learned about the actor Joseph Jefferson for whom the island was named. They learned about the salt dome disaster of 1980 when an oil drill punctured the salt dome causing a whirlpool that closed the salt mine and caused damage to acres of land. The owner’s home fell into the lake leaving only the chimney visible today.

A huge gong hangs from an old oak tree.

A huge gong hangs from an old oak tree.

Lake Peigneur with chimney

Lake Peigneur with chimney

We toured the historical mansion, and took a nature walk along the trails through the lush and beautiful gardens. Even before I told them they could, the students started collecting items from nature. They couldn’t help themselves. They picked up peacock feathers, moss, flowers, bamboo sticks, pinecones, etc. I gave them ziplock bags to hold their collection.

After collecting, I gave the students a Private Eye loupe magnifying glass. The exercise went like this: Look at your chosen object through the loupe and ask the question, “What does it look like? What else? What else?” In this manner, students were able to build a metaphor poem. This exercise worked well for my youngest writers. Here are a few.

emily private eye poem

erin metaphor poem

private eye

Kielan metaphor poem copy

A little lagniappe (South Louisiana for something extra) occurred when the owner saw me and asked how the day was going. I introduced myself and explained how the students did not know the stories of Jefferson Island. He brought me into the gift shop and handed me a DVD and a book. When I introduced him to two of our students, he told them some of the ghost stories. What a thrill for these kids and for me! Today I celebrate the success of our field trip, the learning, observing, writing, and friendships!

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Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Students perch near the water for inspiration.

Our team of 6 elementary gifted teachers took the 6th graders from our parish (district) on a field trip to Rip Van Winkle Gardens on Jefferson Island. If you live around here, you know that Jefferson Island is not a true island. It is one of 5 land masses that rise up out of the South Louisiana marshes. Jefferson Island was once the home of Joseph Jefferson and holds a beautiful antebellum home with acres of tropical gardens.

Reflections on Lake Peigneur

The purpose of our field trip was to introduce our students to a natural place where water is integral to its survival. We will be working with these students once a month for the school year on a project of their choice about water. At Jefferson Island, we learned some history, discussed questions, and enjoyed the beauty around us.

I led the students in a writing exercise from Georgia Heard’s book Awakening the Heart. The pre-writing exercise asks students to use an image. (In this case, the images were all around us.) There are 6 rooms, or divisions on the paper. Each room serves a purpose, such as “describe the image,” “what sounds do you hear,” or “describe the light.” Each room leads the writer to a deeper understanding of the image and often leads to a creative poem. We sent the students off to different areas of choice with a teacher. Teachers wrote, too.

Sharing time

Out at Jefferson Island, among the oaks, bamboo, and palmettos, we became a community of writers and explorers. We set the tone for the project yet to come and generally had a grand time.

Bamboo Poem
by Dustyn

Tall, arching, stalks of bamboo,

Bright and beautiful skies of blue,

Huge structures where flowers bloom,

Trees towering over you,

It relaxes me to feel the bamboo, so smooth,

And I’ll bet you’ll feel the same way too.

Writing in the bamboo forest

Rip Van Winkle Gardens
by Rhyan

We are in a mysterious land,

An enchanted garden,

Where the butterflies roam,

and the dock hangs over the lake.

The lake is screaming “I am a wonderful lake and I shall not be destroyed.”

But now it is silent.

The only sounds are rustling leaves and chirping birds.

Wait, what was that?

Are those the loud blades of a propeller?

Does this man know he is destroying nature?

Eventually this wonderful land will be gone.

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