Hands-On Experiences at Johnson Nature Center Log Cabin

Kindergarten classes from across Bloomfield Hills Schools traveled to the Johnson Nature Center to experience daily living from the late 1800s. They did chores in the log cabin that children would have helped with 150 years ago and explored the outside property to see what nature can give them as they prepared for winter (food and firewood).  

Finn Cooper (grade K) from Eastover said seeing the log cabin building at the nature center was a new experience. “I saw a building that was a different kind of building like a museum,” said Finn. “It had not usual pictures. And some walls are bricks, but the log cabin is made out of logs.” 

Eastover kindergarten teacher Jamie Goldschmidt said the children are guided by teachers and nature center staff to think about their lives now as compared to life in a log cabin. “Here are some overarching questions the children think about,” said Goldschmidt, “How did people from 150 years ago get their food? How do we get our food? Are there any similarities?” 

Aven Banton (grade K), also from Eastover, made a connection between the log cabin baking activity and a family tradition. “I made a ball shape. It became stuff that you eat, and it’s not dough anymore. It made me think about the bread that my Nanny (grandmother) always makes for me when I go to her house. My favorite chore was doing the butter because you shaked it in the jar.”

Goldschmidt emphasized the students learn a lot from their hands-on experiences. The activities include those that children would have done as part of the household tasks 150 years ago. The students then compare the lives of children 150 years ago to their lives today. 

The list of chores was long, according to Finn. “I made bread, I cleaned clothes, I made a bed, I ironed the clothes, I sweeped the ground, and then I made the butter. They are chores that a kid would have done a long time ago.”

Also as part of the field trip, the children discuss where families from 150 years ago get resources to help them survive and look around the Nature Center for items such as nuts, berries, sticks for fire, etc.

Certainly, the students enjoyed the experience. “I would want to live a long time ago because it is fun!” exclaimed Aven.


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