KDT! Ithaca

  • Kids Discover the Trail!

    Kids Discover the Trail! (KDT!) Ithaca is a collaboration between Ithaca Public Education Initiative (IPEI), Ithaca City School District (ICSD) and the Discovery Trail. KDT! provides every district student with the opportunity to connect their learning to the rich experiences available through one of the eight Discovery Trail organizations during each year of elementary school.

    KDT! Ithaca Program Goals:
    • Enhance classroom learning through experience-based programs
    • Provide equal access to Discovery Trail sites
    • Promote understanding and respect among elementary students from different neighborhoods
    • Expand community awareness of the resources of the Discovery Trail
    Here’s How Kids Discover the Trail!

    Each elementary grade is linked with a Discovery Trail organization. Individual classrooms from different schools visit sites in pairs. Most also share learning and social activities before and after field trips. KDT! Ithaca curriculum is aligned with current state standards.

    KDT! Books

    Books are provided to all students at all grade levels each year to encourage literacy and complement the KDT! Ithaca curriculum. Books also help connect families with KDT! Ithaca program goals.

    Families Visit

    Take-home materials including free admission passes encourage families to visit sites and be more aware of Discovery Trail resources.

    Classrooms Connect

    Each year pairs of classrooms from different elementary schools are linked for KDT! Ithaca learning experiences according to which middle school they will enter together (except in fourth grade due to site size). Fifth graders have two opportunities with their peers as they transition to middle school.

    Buddy Up

    Teachers of the classroom pairs plan additional activities together that give students more chances to develop relationships with their buddies. Some visit a Discovery Trail site, or each other’s school or school neighborhood, or another cultural or recreational location.

    Grade Level Partnerships:

    Pre-Kindergarten/ Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell: LEARNING TO LOOK, LOOKING TO LEARN                                                                                                              KDT! BOOK:  ART, Patrick McDonnell 
    KDT! BOOK:  Shapes, Education Department interns Bartels Scholar Sammy Perlmutter and Veronica Franzese

    KindergartenTompkins County Public Library: CELEBRATING STORIES
    KDT! BOOK: Interrupting Chicken, David Ezra Stein

    First GradeMuseum of the Earth at PRI: DISCOVERING EARTH’S MYSTERIES
    KDT! BOOK: Fossils, Aliki

    Second Grade/Sciencenter: POWER THE FUTURE
    KDT! BOOK: Energy Island: How One Community Harnessed the Wind and Changed Their World, Allen Drummond

    Third GradeCornell Botanic Gardens: WILDFLOWER EXPLORATION
    KDT! BOOK: Wildflowers: A Peterson’s First Guide

    Fourth GradeThe History Center in Tompkins Count EIGHT SQUARE SCHOOLHOUSE: 19TH CENTURY LIFE
    KDT! BOOK: The Secret School, Avi

    Fifth GradeCornell Lab of Ornithology: BIODIVERSITY ​SURVEYS
    KDT! BOOK: Peterson First Guide to Birds of North America, Roger Tory Peterson

    Fifth Grade/ Cayuga Nature Center: TEAM BUILDING AND LEADERSHIP
    KDT! BOOK: The Climb, Book 2, Gordon Korman

    A Decade of Discovery

    KDT! Ithaca celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2015.”Reflecting on the first ten years of Kids Discover the Trail!, I am so proud of this collaborative effort and the participation of over 25,000 students since it began”, says Don Rakow, former director of the Cornell Plantations. “The KDT! model successfully provides students and teachers with meaningful, hands-on experiences that support classroom learning and engage students’ imaginations.”

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