City Explorations Fuel Gracias Art Projects
Exploring Equals Education
Creativity can be sparked anywhere. Getting outside of your typical surroundings opens your mind to new and exciting possibilities. You experience unfamiliar things and expand your horizons, allowing you to go beyond what you thought your capabilities were. Pre-K 4 SA’s City Explorations were created to give our children the opportunity to explore new things and see all that the City of San Antonio has to offer.
Explorations are trips to different parts of San Antonio that display the culture and diversity that makes it the unique and vibrant place that it is. They differ from the typical field trip format. Instead of being highly structured with a set itinerary, these trips are led by the children. They explore the chosen site and go where their curiosity leads them. It is an extension of how classroom instruction is implemented, where the children drive their own learning. This organic format is beneficial and allows them to find the things that interest them instead of being told exactly what they should be focusing on.
Explorations Expand Family Engagement
Pre-K 4 SA believes that family engagement is one of the key elements to supporting the whole child. We know that learning does not end when children walk out of our centers and that parent and guardian involvement translates to increased academic success for the child. Families attend these events with their children, giving them the chance to see their child’s educational opportunities outside of the classroom. The trips take place after school hours, giving our parents that work full time the chance to participate in the explorations. Parents can also meet and build relationships with their child’s classmate’s parents, strengthening the Pre-K 4 SA community.
Each year, teachers at all centers prepare a proposal for two explorations, one in the fall and another in the spring. Fall explorations intend to inspire art projects that the children create for Gracias San Antonio: Children Are Citizens.
Gracias San Antonio is a six-month project where children have the opportunity to vote for a nonprofit, explore the best of San Antonio’s landmarks, and bring their inspirations to life through art right in their classrooms. All classes then create a unique piece of art that is auctioned off in the spring, with the proceeds going to the non-profit that the children selected. This goal of Gracias is to give the children firsthand experience with civic engagement while giving them the opportunity to explore and connect with their city.
“Our city exploration was to the Landa Library. Some of the children noticed the detailed patterns of the tiles on the library’s staircase, and we used that as a springboard for our Gracias project. The students created wall art using different colored mosaic tiles,” said Mark Martinez, a Master Teacher at the West Education Center.
The Japanese Tea Garden, Elmendorf Lake Park, and the Good New Church Pumpkin Patch are a few of the sites that were visited this fall by our classes. The sites chosen are open to the public and free for our families to visit. “City Explorations are unique because teachers and our families are able to share that outing experience together, enjoy the great parks San Antonio has for our community, and then families can go back as often as they wish because they are free public areas,” said Manuela Haberer, Head of School at Gardendale.
City Explorations encapsulate what Pre-K 4 SA is all about. Child-led educational experiences that encourage family involvement. Explorations put the children in the driver’s seat and gives them ownership over their learning experience, all while giving parents an expanded Rolodex of no-cost, family-friendly activities.