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10 Exciting Field Trip Destinations: Exploring Beyond the Classroom at Lorien Wood

June 07, 2024
By Lynnette Fields

Embarking on exciting field trips is a hallmark of the Lorien Wood experience. As a private school in Northern Virginia, we are aptly located to explore the rich history of the greater Washington, D.C. area. With a commitment to hands-on learning, we ensure that every grade level experiences a variety of field trips throughout the year. Each field trip is carefully curated to complement our curriculum and provide an enriching experience for our students. Join us as we explore 10 must-see destinations that combine fun, learning, and adventure!

1. Lincoln’s Cottage

During their unit study on The Quest for Valor, Form 2 students embark on a historic visit to Lincoln’s Cottage. Located on a 250-acre campus in the NW corner of D.C., President Lincoln’s Cottage offers students an intimate window into the life and legacy of one of America’s greatest leaders. Through interactive activities and guided tours, students gain a deeper understanding of the courage and fortitude exemplified by Lincoln during his presidency.

2. Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center

Form 3 students travel to this important cultural center to study Omani Culture during their Unit on Peace and Conflict in the Middle East. The Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center provides a unique opportunity for students to learn about the culture and geography of Oman. Named after the late Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, the center is one of his many cultural legacies, promoting arts and cultural conservation. Their favorite activity includes learning how to write in Arabic, immersing themselves in a different language and script.

3. Wolftrap National Park

Form 1 students embark on a nature hike at Wolftrap National Park, where they explore the forest and learn about the anatomy of trees, photosynthesis, and biodiversity. This outdoor adventure sparks curiosity and a love for nature among young learners. With lovely hiking trails, it's the perfect destination for our budding outdoor enthusiasts.

4. The Bible Museum

As part of their Humanities studies on the ancient Israelites and surrounding cultures, middle schoolers delve into the world of the Israelites at The Bible Museum. Here, they embark on an immersive journey through exhibits that bring biblical narratives to life, enhancing their understanding of history and culture.

5. Mount Vernon

High school students step back in time with a visit to George Washington’s Plantation, incorporated into their Humanities unit on the Founding Fathers and biology unit on Botany. They explore the extensive gardens and learn about President Washington’s innovative farming techniques, connecting the past with the present and gaining insights into America’s early history.

6. Alexandria Archaeology Museum

Watershed (6th grade) students uncover the mysteries of Alexandria's past at the Alexandria Archaeology Museum, where they learn about excavation techniques and dendrochronology- the science of dating events using timber growth rings. Guided by archaeologists, students explore artifacts and delve into the city's history, connecting with the past in a hands-on learning environment.

7. Hidden Oaks Nature Center

This center hosts a myriad of programs throughout the year, each offering unique opportunities for hands-on learning and discovery. Form 1 students recently participated in a program titled "Spring Changes," immersing themselves in the wonders of the changing seasons. Guided by knowledgeable naturalists, they embarked on nature walks, explored the pond ecosystem, and engaged with interactive exhibits showcasing the beauty and diversity of our local wildlife. Through these experiences, students develop a deeper appreciation for nature and gain valuable insights into the interconnectedness of the environment.

8. National Gallery of Art

A highlight for many of our Lorien Wood students is the National Gallery of Art visit. As art enthusiasts, they are eager to explore the masterpieces housed within its walls. This field trip directly ties into our curriculum at almost every grade level. For example, during Form 3's exploration of Old & New in Western Europe, students identify original works in person and take their time to sketch a few of their favorites. Similarly, Form 2 students study pointillism and abstract art as they create self-portraits, gaining inspiration from the diverse range of artistic styles on display. Guided by knowledgeable docents, our students delve into the stories behind the paintings, gaining insights into art history and the creative process.

9. Virginia State Arboretum

Watershed students discover the wonders of nature at the Virginia State Arboretum, exploring diverse plant collections and picturesque gardens. From wetlands to meadows, students learn about native and non-native species and the importance of conservation, immersing themselves in the beauty of the natural world. The Arboretum is one of the few places on the East Coast working to restore the American Chestnut Tree.

10. National Botanic Gardens

Form 1 students celebrate the holiday season at the National Botanic Gardens, exploring Christmas traditions and the legend of the poinsettia. The holiday train show is a highlight, featuring festive displays created by artisans who craft them solely from plant matter. As they marvel at these intricate creations, students immerse themselves in the beauty and creativity of nature.

At Lorien Wood, we believe in the power of experiential learning to ignite curiosity, inspire creativity, and foster a lifelong love of learning. Our field trip destinations offer students unique opportunities to explore, discover, and connect with the world around them. We hope you consider exploring some of these wonderful destinations with your family!

Journeying Through the Chesapeake Bay Watershed: A 6th Grade Adventure

May 20, 2024
By Nic Reynolds

A Year Set Apart

The Watershed Year is a unique program at Lorien Wood that sets our sixth graders apart from others. It is a year-long exploration of the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River watershed region, where students delve into a curriculum that seamlessly integrates history, science, literature, art, music, and geography. Through this holistic approach, students gain a deep understanding of the interconnectedness between land, people, and water.

A significant portion of instructional time in the Watershed Year is dedicated to hands-on field experiences. Students have the opportunity to explore local streams and rivers, studying the ecology of the region firsthand. This allows them to gain invaluable insights into God's design for watersheds and their role as stewards of the environment. Through various projects and investigations, they also explore the historical and cultural significance of the watershed, drawing connections between past and present environmental issues.

Favorite Field Study Locations: Nature Preserves & Shenandoah Hikes

The Watershed Year includes several field visits to nature preserves and hiking trails in the Shenandoah region. These visits offer students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the Chesapeake Bay watershed while learning about its diverse ecosystem.

Virginia State Arboretum
One of the favorite field study locations is the Virginia State Arboretum, a serene sanctuary boasting diverse plant collections and picturesque gardens. It is the perfect place for nature enthusiasts featuring a robust collection of native and non-native species all in one place. There are wetlands, meadows, test plots for the restoration of the American Chestnut, and different types of landscapes that feature a variety of plant and tree species. 

Sky Meadows State Park
Sky Meadows State Park is another class favorite where students can embrace their inner naturalists as they hike through historic landscapes and enjoy breathtaking views of Virginia's Piedmont Region. The park features a Historic estate with a rich colonial and civil war history. Exploring this field excursion offers a unique blend of science, history, and nature, creating a truly enriching experience.

Patuxent Research Refuge
Founded in the 1930s by President Roosevelt, the Patuxent Research Refuge was not only created to preserve a tract of forest and wetlands outside of Washington, D.C., but also to act as a place where wildlife research can take place. That makes Patuxent the only National Wildlife Refuge established to support wildlife research. Studies on climate, endangered species, and habitat are some of the research that happens here. Patuxent serves as an enduring testament to Roosevelt and his "Tree Army," offering students the opportunity to wander its trails and witness the fruits of nearly a century of conservation efforts


Historical Landmarks: Exploring the Past within the Watershed

Exploring historical landmarks is an integral part of the Watershed Year curriculum. Students have the opportunity to visit significant sites that hold both historical and natural importance within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Manassas National Battlefield Park
One of the highlights is the Manassas National Battlefield Park, where students explore Civil War sites amidst picturesque landscapes. This blend of history and nature offers a unique learning experience as students learn about the turbulent realities of conflict during the Civil War. We read about the Battle of Bull Run in an original Harper’s Weekly article and visit the very site of the Civil War’s first brutal engagement. Exploring the battlegrounds where a pivotal moment in our nation's history unfolded is a solemn experience for Watershed students. They come face-to-face with the same fields that soldiers, some not much older than the average 6th grader, encountered 163 years ago, offering a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made in the past.

Alexandria Archeology Museum
In the heart of Old Town Alexandria, lies the Alexandria Archaeology Museum, where archaeologists are diligently uncovering the city's past to this day. Students have the unique opportunity to engage with and tour the museum alongside archaeologists, collaborating to unravel the mystery behind the discovery of an 18th-century ship buried along the Potomac coast in Alexandria. Through hands-on experiences and learning about dendrochronology, the science of dating events using timber growth rings, this excursion becomes an essential component of the Watershed curriculum.

The Piscataway National Park 
Named after the indigenous Piscataway Indians who still inhabit the area, this National Park offers a poignant opportunity to tread upon the ancestral lands of its original inhabitants prior to European colonization. With numerous hiking trails winding through its expanse, students are led along paths affording views of the river, including Mount Vernon, before delving into the woods to identify familiar species like pawpaw, persimmon, various oak, and hickory. As one of their initial outings, practicing species identification remains a fresh endeavor, emphasizing the significance of recognizing common species across different locations.

Our Favorite Overnight Camping Adventure

Sixth Graders participate in three overnight camping trips throughout the Watershed Year. These trips provide an incredible opportunity for students to connect with the environment and learn valuable life skills.

In early Spring, Watershed visits First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach. The crew embark on an adventure through historic Coastal Virginia, where they camp on the historic grounds of Cape Henry, where the Jamestown settlers first landed 415 years ago. Exploring the Bay, our students immerse themselves in the wonders of North America's largest estuary. Students also visit the Virginia Aquarium’s Marine Science Center, increasing their understanding of the Bay’s ecosystem and their role in conservation efforts. 
Continuing the Journey

As our sixth graders continue their journey through the Watershed Year, we are excited to witness their growth, curiosity, and appreciation for the natural world and the rich history of our region. The experiences and knowledge they gain during this year have a lasting impact on their understanding of the environment and their role as stewards of the Chesapeake Bay watershed

Walking for Water: Learning about Abundance & Scarcity in Africa

May 06, 2024
By Megan Kime

At Lorien Wood, we believe in the power of experiential learning to bring curriculum to life. As lead teachers for the Form 3 (4th and 5th grade students), we strive to create immersive experiences that deepen students' understanding of the world around them. In our Unit on Africa, we designed this simulation to give students a glimpse into the daily reality of many children in Africa.

The Experience

We call this simulation "Walking for Water" because it mirrors the daily journey of African children who must trek miles to fetch clean water for their families. As teachers deeply committed to enriching our students' education, we collaborated to develop this impactful experience. Students are briefed beforehand and equipped with flip flops and buckets, symbolizing the challenges faced by those who undertake this journey daily. They walk two miles to a nearby location, experience the physical strain of carrying water-filled buckets, and face the decision of whether to pour out precious water to lighten their load.

Learning about Water Scarcity

Throughout the simulation, students experience the physical and emotional toll of water scarcity firsthand. They learn about teamwork, perseverance, and the harsh realities faced by many children their age. Reflecting on the activity, students gain a newfound appreciation for the abundance of resources in their own lives and develop increased compassion for those living in regions affected by water scarcity.

Integral Learning

The "Walking for Water" simulation is part of our comprehensive study of Africa, where every aspect of the curriculum is intertwined. From studying the continent's diverse cultures and languages to exploring its economic and environmental challenges, students gain a holistic understanding of Africa's influence on the world. Hands-on experiences like creating tribal masks and listening to speeches by African leaders enrich students' learning and foster a deeper connection to the material. They learn about courageous leaders such as Nelson Mandela, who fought against apartheid, and William Kamkwamba, who at 14 years old, built an electricity-producing windmill from spare parts and scrap in Malawi.

As educators at a Vienna private school, we believe in the importance of hands-on experiences that complement traditional classroom learning. Through activities like "Walking for Water," students not only gain a deeper understanding of global issues but also develop empathy, resilience, and a sense of social responsibility. By immersing themselves in the realities faced by others, students emerge with a greater appreciation for the world's diversity and a commitment to making a positive difference.

Learn more about our Integral Curriculum!

Stepping Back in Time: The Lorien Wood Historic Ball

April 19, 2024
By Tacye Clarke

Step into the past with our middle and high school students as they recently participated in the Lorien Wood Historic Ball at the enchanting Old Town Hall in Fairfax City. This experiential opportunity serves as the culmination of our semester's Humanities studies on the Revolutions Era, where students explored pivotal moments in history, including the English Civil War, the American Revolution, French Revolution, and the American Civil War as part of the Watershed curriculum for 6th graders.

Integral Learning in the “Revolutions” Unit

At Lorien Wood, we believe in breaking down the barriers between subjects and fostering a holistic approach to learning. Our integral approach to education shines brightly in the "Revolutions" unit, where students delve into the interconnectedness of history, science, and culture. Through collaborative projects and experiential learning opportunities, students gain a comprehensive understanding of the era's political and social landscapes. From sketching historical figures like Ludwig Van Beethoven and Abigail Adams to presenting their research findings, students immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of history, gaining invaluable insights into the human experience.

Dressed for the Occasion

The Historic Ball isn't just a celebration—it's an immersive journey into the past. Students meticulously research the clothing styles of their chosen historical figures, from the elaborate attire of Thomas Jefferson to the Elizabethan fashion of Protestant England. Donning period-appropriate attire and the requisite white gloves, they step into the shoes of their characters, embracing the formalities and social graces of the era. With attention to detail and a deep understanding of historical context, students get to bring their characters to life.

Dancing Through the Ages

In preparation for the ball, students learn the art of historic dance. Guided by our dedicated music teachers, they practice traditional dances such as the Waltz, Virginia Reel, Quadrilles, and the Grand March. Overcoming initial apprehensions, they master the choreography and come to embrace the joy of dancing with their peers. With dance cards in hand and partners by their side, they enter the ballroom with confidence and grace, ready to showcase their newfound skills and revel in the spirit of the era.

A Feast for the Senses

As the evening unfolds, students are treated to a sumptuous feast that transports them back in time. They indulge in historically appropriate delicacies, from petit fours and macarons to madeleines and ham biscuits. Sipping on spiced punch and savoring each bite, students experience the culinary delights of centuries past, immersing themselves fully in the sights, sounds, and tastes of history.

Developing Lifelong Learners

As a Christian school in Northern Virginia that embraces Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy, Lorien Wood believes that children are designed with an innate sense of wonder. Our curriculum serves as a daily invitation for students to engage all their senses actively. The Historic Ball, marking the culmination of our Revolutions Unit, stands out as a beloved experience for our middle schoolers, immersing them in a sensory-rich journey. As a result, students not only relish the learning process but also cultivate a lasting sense of wonder that accompanies them into their high school years.


Learn more about Experiential Learning at Lorien Wood.


Loaves & Lessons: Crafting Bread and Cultivating Curiosity in Form 1

April 05, 2024
By Lindsey Hinson

Embarking on their journey through Form 1, students at Lorien Wood, a private school in Vienna, delve into a period of holistic growth, encompassing social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development.

Within our carefully structured daily activities, emphasis is placed on fostering independence, self-confidence, and cooperative group dynamics through hands-on, interactive experiences. These pivotal years promise a tapestry of discovery and joy as young learners explore their role in God's world.

Truth & Tales

As part of their exploration within the "Truth and Tales" unit study, Form 1 students delve into the realms of real truth and fanciful fairy tales. In the study of truth, they immerse themselves in the incredible miracles of Jesus, including the profound lesson of faith illustrated through the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 with merely 5 loaves and 2 fish. Students learn about the elements of a story and how stories help us understand real truths.

The Science of Breadmaking

An integral aspect of this unit involves delving into the science of breadmaking. Students eagerly dive into crafting their loaves from scratch, unraveling the mysteries behind bread's rising process. Through hands-on experimentation, they discover the role of yeast in producing carbon dioxide, which in turn creates the bubbles responsible for the bread's rising. Students learn about the conditions necessary for yeast's growth and fermentation, gaining insights into the living organism's requirements for warmth, moisture, and nourishment.

Form 1 students delight in mixing ingredients, observing the dough rise, and kneading with gusto. They learn the valuable lesson of “waiting” for the yeast to do its good work through each stage of the bread-making process. Excitement mounts as they eagerly anticipate sharing their mini loaves with their families at home.

The Importance of Hands-on Learning 

Engaging the senses is fundamental to our approach at Lorien Wood. As a Form 1 teacher, I love to incorporate hands-on activities tailored to the five senses, enriching the learning journey for our kindergarten and 1st-grade students. By infusing stories with interactive elements, we ignite their curiosity and foster a deeper comprehension of our curriculum. Recognizing the importance of play at this developmental stage, hands-on experiences breathe life into our unit material, making learning a vibrant adventure.

For those curious to replicate our experience at home, here's a link to the Breadmaking in a Bag recipe we use in class. Happy Baking!


Learn more about our integral curriculum!