Field Trip Opportunities
Ellanor C. Lawrence Park is a unique community resource well suited to reinforce students’ knowledge of Virginia history and natural resources. Its 650 acres feature historic structures and evidence of past land use as well as a diversity of natural habitats in which students can observe firsthand the relationships between plants, animals and their environments, human impacts on the natural world and more. The Walney Visitor Center features a live animal display and exhibits on the parkland’s history. Unless otherwise noted, field trips meet at the Walney Visitor Center, 5040 Walney Road, Chantilly, 20151.
Although SOL correlations are noted in the program descriptions below, most programs can be tailored to meet the needs of pre-school through 6th grades with advanced notice. Please discuss your field trip goals with a naturalist when reserving a program date. Programs fill quickly. Reservations can be made beginning the last week in August.
Programs are available Monday through Friday mornings (start time: 10 am) from September until June. Staff permitting, programs may also be scheduled on select afternoons. Students may be divided into smaller groups.
In-county fees are $4 per student or chaperone. Out-of county school fees are $5 per student or chaperone. Teachers and aides are not charged. There is a 15 attendee required minimum. Programs may be scheduled for less than 15 students, but this minimum fee will still be assessed. This applies also to reduced attendance due to absenteeism. Payment can be made at Walney Visitor Center on the day of the field trip program. Checks should be made payable to “Fairfax County Park Authority.” Visa and MasterCard payments are also accepted.
All trip programs take place outside, so students, teachers and chaperones should dress for the weather.
We look forward to your visit!
History and Social Studies Programs
American Indian Life in Fairfax County
One of our most popular programs with 2nd and 4th grades! Students explore what life may have been like for an Eastern Woodland Indian and the relationship which they would have had with the land that is now Fairfax County at the time of European colonization. Students rotate between up to five stations to learn about the uses of fire and native plants and animals, foodways, personal decoration and skill-based games. Activities include a trail hike in search of native plants and animals, corn grinding, a corn dart game and a deer “hunt.” Naturalists will also talk about what material evidence these peoples and those who came before them left behind. The 2nd grade program is 60 minutes; the 4th grade program is 90 minutes. SOLs addressed include HSS 2.2 and VS.2.
Past residents at Walney left a unique record of their lives and how the land was used that we can learn from today if we know how to “read” it. Students visit various man-made features within the park to discern their past functions by using clues from observations of physical features and sample artifacts. Features include remains of a dairy, ice house, tack shed and ice pond. After successfully identifying the uses of these features, students will draw conclusions about what daily life may have been like at Walney farm during the 19th century. Students will also learn about the importance of tobacco and gardening during this time period as well as the role of archaeology in providing us important information about the past. SOLs addressed include VS.1, VS.2 and VS.3.
Look for a Walney 19th Century Farm Life program coming in fall 2013!
Natural History and Science Programs
Reptiles and Amphibians
Students learn about adaptations, habitats, and life cycles by observing reptiles and amphibians and their habitats. Students will have an opportunity to see live native reptiles and amphibians up close with a naturalist and will take a trail walk to explore a variety of habitats within the park looking for other reptiles and amphibians. SOLs addressed include Science K.6, 1.5, 2.4, 3.4, 3.5, 4.5, 5.5.
Trees are Terrific!
Students will learn the basics of tree biology, identification and the important roles trees – both dead and alive – play in the environment through an interactive game, discussions and trail walk. Depending on the season, naturalists will guide students in making tree identifications by examining and comparing leaves, barks, twigs and/or seeds. SOLs addressed include Science 1.4, 2.4, 3.8
Senses and Seasons
Students explore the unique characteristics of the current season by using their senses to make observations on this fun and interactive trail walk. Other activities may include a trail listening exercise and a game. SOLs addressed include Science K.6, 1.5, 2.4.
Students explore the lives and life cycles of ants in this entertaining, interactive program. While a naturalist leads discussion, students act out stages in an ant’s life cycle and perform a skit demonstrating how ants work together in a colony to provide for their basic needs. Afterwards, students will take a short trail walk to look for ants in their natural environment, observe how they forage for food and identify the unique physical characteristics that make ants insects. SOLs addressed include Science K.6, 1.5, 1.6.
Shapes and Colors in Nature
Young learners explore the grounds of the historic Walney Visitor Center to find shapes and colors in nature to reinforce classroom lessons. Students identify shapes and colors and guess what they might find of similar shapes and colors in nature before setting out to explore and discuss the how and why of what they find with a naturalist. SOLs addressed include Science K.4, K.7, 1.4, 1.6.
Students learn about the food web, life cycles and decomposition through naturalist-led discussion and field observations focusing on the life of worms and who depends on them for a meal. Students look for worms in leaf litter and beneath logs to collect and observe before releasing. SOLs addressed include Science K.6, 1.4, 2.4, 2.5, 3.4, 3.5, 4.5.
Insect Safari: Meadow and Stream Habitats
Students compare and contrast meadow and stream habitats and draw conclusions about the general characteristics of the types of insects found in each by making observations through field collection. Students will explore the biodiversity of the insect world and the importance of insects to other animals and plants. (This program meets at the Cabell’s Mill complex across from Walney Pond. 5235 Walney Road, Centreville.) SOLs addressed include Science 2.4, 2.5.
Students investigate the physical and biological characteristics of a pond habitat through hands-on collection (and release) of aquatic insects and other pond dwellers. Naturalists will lead observation and discussion of the interdependency of life found at the pond, habitat characteristics and how human actions affect water quality and life found in aquatic habitats. (This program meets at Walney Pond.) SOLs addressed include Science 2.4 and 2.5. Please note: This program can be modified to address the needs of older grade levels.
Soil and Water
On a short trail hike, students learn about the components of soil and observe soil layers, decomposition and the impacts of erosion in a forest. Interactive games demonstrating the water cycle help prompt discussion of how clean water is a unique resource important to all living things. SOLs addressed include Science 2.3, 2.6, 2.7 and 3.9.
All About Plants
Students learn what makes a plant a plant! During field study, students make observations and draw conclusions by examining plants in different systems, noting animal and plant interactions and looking into plants’ roles in soil building. Naturalist-led discussion includes basic plant biology and reproduction strategies, the role of plants in ecosystems and food webs and why conservation is important. Students also learn to identify, through comparison and contrast, at least three different plant types. SOLs addressed include SCI 3.5, 3.6, 3.8, 3.10, 4.4, 4.5 and 4.8
Animals and Their Habitats
What determines, in part, what animals call Ellanor C. Lawrence Park “home?” Students will use critical thinking and observation skills to answer this question on a guided trail hike by comparing the habitat needs of an assigned animal species with what they identify as suitable food, water, shelter and a safe place to raise young within the park. SOLs addressed include SCI 3.4, 3.5, 4.5 and 5.5.