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Riding the Chocolate Train

Riding the Chocolate Train

Within a social-constructivist context, shared experiences offer children a chance to build their understandings of themselves, each other, and the world. Earlier this week, the Cedar community visited the Farmer’s Market in downtown Portland. This rich environment — filled with a variety of colors, textures, flavors and scents — provided us with a memorable, multi-sensory experience.


In the days leading up to our first field trip, we delved into what it means to be an explorer. As a community, we cracked open the word and uncovered that explorers use several tools: Their eyes, ears, noses, mouths, hands, bodies and brains to understand their questions and ideas.

We were curious about the children’s prior experiences with Farmer’s Markets too. What did they already know about them? What stories and connections would they share with each other before our visit?

I noticed with my hands I could feel these smooth bark chips on the ground. I felt them with my hands. — M.G.

I haven’t been to a Farmer’s Market for a long time. On the MAX train it was kinda wobbly but it was fun. When I smelled it, it kind of smelled like apples. — T.O.

When I was at the Farmer’s Market I could hear birds tweeting. — T.R.

I have been to a Farmer’s Market before. I tasted something and it was really good. It was strawberries and they tasted like red flowers! — L.O.

When I was at the Farmer’s Market, I really loved the tiny pumpkin that I saw and I really liked the taste of the honey sticks. — Z.V.

When I was at the Farmer’s Market, I heard some frogs croaking. — H.H.

I went to my daddy’s hospital’s Farmer’s Market and I looked for nuts. — I.S.

A long long time ago, before I was in this school, we went to a Farmer’s Market and we bought stuff and we sold stuff to people and I played in the splash pad. — R.H.


Since many of the children had not traveled on the MAX train, we walked to the train station one day and watched several trains arrive and leave. This is what we heard from the children while we were in the tunnel:

I notice it’s a little quieter in here. — M.G.

I hear something! — D.R.

Wow, this is weird. — T.O.

I think it’s coming! — Z.V.

I notice a blue light on. — M.G.

That’s for the trains to go. — H.H.

It’s for just in case the trains are riding at night so they see where they’re going. — O.M.

I went on a night train before. I think one’s coming because I see some lights! — T.R.

I’ve been on train before! — T.O.

I noticed the trains were super fast, they have rockets! — M.B.

They were so noisy! — A.R.

They made noises, ooh-ohh-ooh! — B.B.

(Pointing to the wires overhead) I call that zip lines. — W.J.

I call that MAX line. I hear a MAX line! — A.R.

I hear something! “Para Eschucha!” That means, stop and listen. — R.H.

Hey everyone, PARA ESCHUCHA! — M.G.

I hear something … it’s the train! — H.H.

When are these sneaky trains going to come? — M.G.

Where are they coming from? They’re coming from both ways! — T.R.

I feel air. — A.R.

I hear air! — M.G.

The wind is getting colder until a train comes. — H.H.

It’s the train! — W.J.

Feels good. — Z.V.

(Watching a train that’s brown) It’s a chocolate train! — H.H.

Because it’s brown with white words! — M.G.

Those letters said chocolate! I think there’s another train coming! It’s gonna get cold! — H.H.

I think a vanilla train is coming next. — O.M.

Or a pumpkin train! — M.G.

They’re coming from other directions and they’re going to crash each other! — T.R.

Bye train! — H.H.

On the morning of our field trip, we had a “wobbly” ride on the “sneaky” train. Then the children discovered many treasures, using all of their senses, at the Farmer’s Market. They noticed the shape of “scribbly pumpkins” and the colors of “rainbow artichokes.” They touched “baby pumpkins that felt tickly” and sipped “apple cider that tasted like cinnamon pears.” Their delight filled the air.






We are exploring together. We are cultivating a garden together, backs to the sun. The question is a hoe in our hands and we are digging beneath the hard and crusty surface to the rich humus of our lives. — Parker Palmer

As teachers, we wonder: How will the children continue to construct their ideas of what it means to be an explorer? What evidence will we find that the community has grown stronger after our adventure? What will the children reveal to us as we reflect on this shared experience? What stories from the market will wake up in them while playing with various materials?


First I was walking around the Farmer’s Market and I got the mushroom with a really squishy top. Then I got the pepper, sometimes they’re spicy sometimes they’re not spicy. I tried some samples. The chocolate, it tasted so good. And the pear, it tasted like an apple. It tasted different in my mouth. And then I tasted the sausage. I was surprised, it was a little bit spicy. And then I had a cookie with white stuff, it was lemon. It reminded of the lemon bread I got at Disneyland. I got with my dollar an apple with spots on it. The green thing is the tent that I saw. — Reece, Age 5

What adventures have you shared with your children this school year?  

How have these experiences supported the sense of community and connection among the children and families?

October 21, 2016

One response to “Riding the Chocolate Train

  1. I love all the language! Sneaky train and scribbly pears! If only we had 3/4year old interpreters wherever we go! I’m so curious, did you record this language while at the market, or was it in a reflection meeting afterwards. If so, how did you support them to reflect on the experience? I’m guessing that the look/notice/wonder explorations you’ve been doing leading up to the market trip has supported their relationship with descriptive language. Thanks for sharing!

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