Thursday, January 17, 2013

Today was our field trip to the Leonis Adobe in Calabasas. This is one of the most historically significant buildings in Los Angeles County. It was originally the home of Miguel Leonis, a Basque sheepherder who came to California while it was still a part of Mexico. He married a Chumash woman named Esperanza. Their rancho was enormous, covering most of the western part of the San Fernando Valley, some 10,000 acres. As a mark of their success, they covered the original adobe building with clapboard and wood filigree in the style of the early Victorian period.

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The trip to the Leonis Adobe each year not only helps our fourth grade students to understand more about California history, but it is a lot of fun. The staff there is great. They divide the students into small groups, each with an experienced and knowledgable docent. They rotate through a variety of activities each designed to help the students understand some facet of life on the ranch. The field trip began with an orientation from "Cowboy Harold."

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Students learned how to lasso cattle from a horse. Many of them were much better at this than their teacher was!

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They learned about how critical water was for the farm, and how carefully they managed their water resources. The students really liked pumping water from the well, though they were not sure if they wanted it as a regular chore like it was for the Leonis children.

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They learned how to grind corn into masa, any how to form the masa into tortillas.

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Probably the best part of all was interacting with the animals. Though only the tiniest fraction of its original size, the Leonis Adobe is still home to a surprising number of animals. The children had the best time observing the sheep who were definitely the friendliest of the creatures there.

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Some of these ewes had recently had babies and the little lambs were sooo cute!

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We also had an opportunity to feed the sheep. They have few teeth since they digest their food in their stomachs. But their tongue tickle when they eat the grass out of your hand. This part was just the best!

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Our trip ended as they gave us hot tortillas with fresh butter. About noon we boarded the yellow bus, and we had lunch at Woodland Hills Recreation Center. That was a lot of fun, too.

Homework:  (1) Write spelling words 16-20 five times each and write a sentence for each one. (2) Do the Equivalent Fractions 4 worksheet. (3) Do pages "Writing to Explain" on pages 243-244 of the math book and Test Prep pages 246-247. There will be a test over topic 9 tomorrow. 

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