Donum Dei employs a year-round calendar to benefit our entire learning community. These rhythms of learning and rest consist of five, eight-week sessions that are separated by one-week breaks. In addition to regular field trips, our teachers purposely schedule fun outings for the final week of each session that seek to solidify lessons learned during the previous seven weeks.
Our 3rd graders have been reading Charlotte's Web together in Literature. This beloved novel by E.B. White engaged our students imagination about farms and animal life, while expanding their vocabulary in new and fun ways. As I witnessed their enjoyment of this book, I knew I needed to take it to the next level by providing an opportunity to immerse themselves in a farm setting. Enter Borges Ranch, a historic cattle ranch nestled in the foothills of Mount Diablo.
Purchased in 1899 by Francisco Borges for a mere $4.50/acre, it provided ample opportunities for our third graders to experience another time and place just 45 minutes from Donum Dei's campus! Students pumped water, used a two-man buck saw (always pull, don't push!), rang the dinner bell, and hung out with some goats (yes, they were all named in no time). We also toured the various ranch structures which included a blacksmith house, a barn filled with interesting farm tools, and the Borges's family home. We had a fabulous time on the ranch!
Following our tour, we enjoyed our lunches and a short hike. During this hike some of the students began to pray for snow, some for rain. (Sidenote: these sweet third graders are prayer warriors, faithfully bringing their concerns, big or small, before the Father in prayer—it’s beautiful to watch!) Well, following their prayers, the heavens opened, and there seemed to be a mixture of some snowflakes, hail, and rain suddenly. There was a lot of marvel and laughter, and certainly yet another assurance that God hears them. I love that I get to witness these varied moments of learning with my third grade class!