Grade 5 field trip to explore Chennai’s heritage buildings

In connection with the unit of study, ‘My City’, learners of Grade V were taken on a field trip to explore the various heritage buildings around the city. Ms. Thirupurasundari, a subject expert prepared the route map, the itinerary for the day and guided us through the trail.

The focus questions for the trail were as follows:

1) What was the purpose behind the construction of the buildings under study?

2) How the buildings and their use have evolved over years?

3) How have these building been conserved?

Our first stop was the Madras Literary Society, located on College Road, Nungambakkam. The one feature that stood out for most learners at first glance was the intricate logo of MLS. Learners observed that the design of the logo seemed to have a Victorian influence. Here their attention was also brought to the structure, colour, texture, shape and other elements of a building like the doors, windows, roof etc.

Learners were informed that the building was established in the year 1812, with the purpose of promoting the study of regional languages. Ironically, the library doesn’t house books in languages other than the English language currently. Learners were enthused by the prospect of browsing through first edition books like, ‘The principles of Mathematics’, written by Sir Isaac Newton and through prized letters written by Annie Besant to the library wanting to renew her membership.

They observed the Georgian Iron framework that housed 75,000 books within the building. Learners were quick to point out that the design of the framework had an industrial influence.

Next, we walked to the first ever college built by the British, in erstwhile Madras, located within the same campus. A tree dotted with numerous parrots caught our attention. Here our guide informed us of the various other birds unique to the campus.

At the site, children attempted to compare and contrast the college building with that of the library building. They were questioned if they could guess how people found their way to the college. On learning that people used a ferry for transportation, children were curious to see the water archway. The enclosure surrounding the water body had a fort like structure with a face motif at its helm. The building next to it is now used as the office space for the Physical Education segment of the Education Board.

Learners wanted to know why the water way was no longer functional. They were informed that irresponsible garbage is what came in use of efficient use of the water ways. We then made our way to the Egmore Museum and observed the structure closely, going by the markers pointed out by the subject expert.

Agraharam in Triplicane:

A family opened the doors of their 180 year old Agraharam to us. Children learnt that the Agraharam is used as a wedding hall now and the fact there are very few agrahramas left in the city. Learners observed that the living spaces in Agra harams are larger.

Community dwelling in Triplicane:

The visit to the community dwelling was a first for Grade V learners. We learnt that 17 families lived there. One thing that stood out was the fact that the community space was much larger than their individual living spaces.

Learners then prepared a report based on the guiding questions posed prior to the field trip.

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