Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Field Trip to Poe Center

I've always suspected that Raleigh has just about the highest concentration of all things awesome for kiddos out of any place I've been to. The field trip to the Poe Center for Health Education confirmed my belief. Ok, the name sounds boring. It's not even named after Edgar Allan Poe, but Alice Aycock Poe (seems like she was a nice lady, a governor's daughter, but that's that).

But don't let the rather boring name stop you from visiting this awesome center (although I do think you need an appointment and be a part of a group; luckily, we were invited by our friends at the local home school kindergarten co-op).

So first thing first, the kids had a lesson on proper nutrition - the My Plate diagram and all. It sounds boring, but it wasn't. They played a few interactive games and the whole session was mostly in Q&A format. The teacher asked questions and kids answered (and let me tell you, the 5-6 year olds know surprisingly a whole lot about proper nutrition, vitamins and food groups). M kept very quiet during the discussion, but volunteered himself for every single game activity. He was eventually chosen for a "Cafeteria" game. The object was to choose healthful foods in the cafeteria and bring a tray with a balanced meal to the lunch lady. M immediately picked up plastic ice cream because it was green and he said he thought it was healthy. He also picked a baked potato over french fries (just wishing it was so in real life), regular milk over chocolate milk (he's never had chocolate milk), an apple and a banana. No meat (and plastic pinto beans look very unappetizing). Then again, we eat hardly any meat at home.

And that was the game. After some more games and more questions (again, M kept very quiet), it was time for a super cool video called The Brain or something like that. It's shown on two smallish screens inside this big huge head. So when you walk inside (through the ears, of course), you are in a little theater, but it's made to look like the inside of a skull. Awesome! The movie is about what makes for healthy brains - food, rest, exercise, physical activity - and what harms the brain - drugs, cigarettes, alcohol. It also talks a bit about how brain works. So awesome!

There were lots of games and activities to try in the lobby, but by then we all rushed to the playground. It's a really great playground too. It has a maze for kids to run around in and lots of shady spots for parents. Also, all the slides and play equipment is made to look like some body part or other. For example, one of the slides is like a nose, lips and a tongue. There's a rib cage climbing wall, a "neurons" cargo net and lots and lots more cool things.

Finally, when we got home, M said that he wanted to play the Poe Center class. He patiently explained that I had to be the teacher and he would be all the kids. Then he told me that I should conduct the lesson just like the teacher at the center did. So I got out all our plastic food, drew a plate and started asking lots and lots of questions. And guess what? He remembered the correct answers to all of them! Not only did he listen to the teacher, he listened to all his friends as they were answering questions in the real class. He would include their answers into his play and would start with "Do you know that..." for all the friends' answers that were correct and "But some people think that..." for all the ones that were incorrect. Then he kept talking about brain and food for a few days. He still asks me from time to time "Is it good for my brain" about all different foods.

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