Single digit temperatures and a coating of snow created quite the atmosphere for sixth-graders at Dexter’s Creekside Intermediate School on January 11. They were participating in the annual Creekside Survival Day, a lesson they have been studying since the first day of school that incorporates math, science, social studies and language arts.
Teacher Meredith Nickerson first introduced Survival Day to students in 2011. She had previously worked as an educator and director at YMCA Storer Camp’s Outdoor Environmental Education Program where similar programs were run.
She says the purpose of Survival Day is to provide real life tie-ins to what students are learning in the classroom and to participate in team-building exercises that move beyond their comfort zones.
“Student reactions to the program couldn’t be more positive,” said sixth-grade teacher Shannon Javis. “Survival Day is one of the highlights of sixth-grade.”
Javis was teaching fire building out in the woods (also known as the winter lab) behind Creekside. He built fires at all four teaching stations to help keep students from getting too cold.
“We’re starting fires without matches today,” he told them, explaining the use of kindling, air, and fuel. “We’ve had a 100 percent success rate so far.”
Students Lindsy Hartman and Sidney Hamilton teamed up to start their own fire.
“I like everything that we’ve been learning about survival,” said Hartman.
“You can use these skills when you’re camping and to keep from getting lost,” said Hamilton.
“Survival day is a wonderful opportunity for our students to apply what they have been learning in science to the real world,” said Javis. “Students also use these experiences from survival day as the basis for research on an action adventure paper for language arts.”
Javis and team teacher Christie Newsome sent parents a description of the survival program stating, “The goal of this program is to serve as a form of real-life research that students will then utilize and connect to their reading and writing genre unit in English Language Arts. Students will read various pieces of adventure writing, such as Jack London’s “To Build a Fire,” participate in their own survival experience, and then use their own experiences to make connections in their writing. Students will also have the opportunity to make scientific connections (energy transfer, conduction/convection, earth’s magnetism, rocks and minerals) through fire-building and orienteering activities, and mathematics connections (angle measure activities.)”
Sixth-grade teams will be participating in the survival program during January and February.