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Experiential Learning

A signature program since the school’s founding in 1982, the ACDS Experiential Learning program is a hallmark of our cultural identity, promoting confidence, joy, and growth in children at every grade level which includes enrichments, electives, fields trips and more.

Enrichment at ACDS includes drama, music, art, foreign language, hands-on science, technology, physical education, athletics, library, service learning, and leadership. Much more than a simple add-on to academic learning, our enrichment program is considered a core discipline alongside traditional academic subjects such as reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies. For example, a typical week for a fourth-grade student includes up to 14 enrichment classes. In middle school, it's student-choice. Middle school students can choose from over 40 high-interest electives, taking up to two electives per trimester.

ACDS also provides a variety of exciting, memorable, hands-on learning opportunities through our supervised field trip programs, offering both on- and off-campus adventures for our students throughout the year. In addition, students in grades 6-8 enjoy EDGE Day every year which enriches and challenges them with activities like trapeze flying, making chocolates, surfing, and more.

With talented specialist teachers as well as targeted support resources, the ACDS enrichment program enables students to experience a wide variety of learning opportunities beyond traditional content areas, helping them to foster their existing talents and to discover — sometimes with surprise— their latent gifts. In our experience, early success with these enrichment activities builds a sense of confidence that readily translates into other areas of a child’s life, establishing the basis for future success and fulfillment both inside and outside the classroom.


Field Trips

Enrichment at Almaden Country Day School reaches far beyond our classroom walls!

Children in all grades at ACDS participate in supervised field trips, including day-trips to destinations such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Spina Farms, the Technology Museum of Innovation, Seymour Marine Discovery Center, and Big Basin Redwood State Park. Starting in the fourth grade, students are also given the opportunity to journey on extended overnight trips that challenge their abilities, strengthen their bonds with classmates, teachers, and parents, and require increasing degrees of independence and growth. 

Chaperoned by ACDS faculty members, our field trips are carefully planned and developed, and have been refined over the years to provide highly stimulating, memorable learning in a safe, supervised environment. Our students take away invaluable lessons about their studies, their world, and themselves, which helps them apply and connect what they have learned at ACDS to the world beyond.

Take a look below to view just a small sampling of the exciting field trips our students take each year.

4th Grade: Coloma Outdoor Discovery School

A trip to Coloma Outdoor Discovery School offers fourth grade students an opportunity to bring their studies of Caifornia's Gold Rush era to life. Students, parents, and teachers take part in a three day, two night adventure that includes gold panning, hoe downs, cornbread making, hike the Monroe Ridge, and more. Food is prepared over an open fire, and everyone sleeps in tents pitched in the meadow. 

The Coloma Outdoor Discovery School's California Gold Rush program is designed for fourth graders and integrates California Content and Common Core Standards. CODS' goal is to celebrate the culture, music, and folklore of the California Gold Rush while using lessons of the past to awaken students' interest and sense of responsibility for the environment.

Coloma Outdoor Discovery School
Science Camp


5th Grade: Science Camp at Web of Life Field (WOLF)

The fifth grade extended overnight trip to science camp offers the opportunity to enhance our on-campus science curriculum focusing on botany, zoology, inter-species relationships, and interdependence in nature. For five days and four nights, participants stay at beautiful Web of Life Field (WOLF), Monte Toyon Campus, for a variety of learning and bonding adventures.  

The Monte Toyon Campus is secluded amidst approximately 100 acres of magnificent redwood forest on California’s central coast -- It’s located just inland from Monterey Bay shores and south of Santa Cruz. The site offers miles of hiking trails that include Monterey Bay vistas, rare albino redwoods, and an abundance of wildlife. Its experience truly befits their name.

6th Grade: Yosemite National Park

One of our nation's natural treasures, Yosemite provides our sixth grade students with the opportunity to learn hands-on lessons in both life sciences and earth sciences, offering a perfect complement to our on-campus curriculum. Over the course of five days, participants explore Yosemite's magnificent winter landscape, applying their science curriculum in geology and wildlife, as well as developing leadership and social skills which are critical Character and Competence goals for sixth grade. Other highlights of the trip include cross-country skiing, ice skating, hiking, and cave exploration.

This trip marks the start of overnight excursions that feature only faculty chaperones (sorry, parents!). Students enjoy their growing independence and build relationships with faculty that foster healthy emotional development that will continue through their middle school experience.

Yosemite Field Trip
2015 Catalina Field Trip

7th Grade: Catalina Environmental Leadership Program

The Catalina Environmental Leadership Program (CELP) provides our seventh grade students with extraordinary access to the pristine natural environment of Catalina Island. This living classroom offers lessons in biological science, environmental science, as well as issues relating to ecosystem interdependency, resource management, and conservation. In addition to their daily activities in the camp's science lab, organic garden, and massive composting operation, participants have the opportunity to hike among Catalina's peaks, explore the shoreline in guided kayaking expeditions, experience team-building and risk-taking activities on the ropes course, and weave their way through the island's majestic kelp forests in day and night snorkel excursions led by the camp's professional naturalists.

8th Grade: East Coast Adventure

After studying U.S. history on campus, our eighth graders have the opportunity to visit some of the most noteworthy and celebrated historical landmarks of our nation's past. This eight-day trip to the East Coast is arranged through a professional school tour company and typically includes visits to Williamsburg, Washington D.C., Boston, Mount Vernon, or Philadelphia. Itineraries vary from year to year, but always create a memorable capstone trip for our graduating class.

Washington DC Field Trip



Edge Day

Middle School students and faculty look forward each year to a very special outing we call EDGE Day.

Expanding a Dynamic and Gifted Education (EDGE)

EDGE Day was developed to expose our older students to a variety of high-interest learning opportunities that are novel, unfamiliar, and often challenging both physically and mentally. Under the supervision of experts in each EDGE area, our students and teachers test their limits and explore new horizons by trying their hand at kayaking, controlled-flight hang gliding, pottery throwing, learning ukulele, fencing, gourmet cooking, trapeze artistry, surfing, and more.

EDGE Day is extremely popular with our sixth through eighth graders, a highlight of their academic year, and a touchstone of the ACDS Middle School experience.

What our students have said about the day …

"EDGE Day was really fun!! I loved being on the San Jose State Campus and working on investigating a crime scene. It was more fun than I expected."
Edge Day Pottery


"I think EDGE day was a wonderful experience because we were able to try new things we normally would not do. I was able to connect with my friends and learn a new skill, pottery making with clay. I had looked forward to EDGE Day since last year and could not wait to try it. It exceeded my expectations!"
Edge Day Trapeze


"The trapeze was exhilarating, and the best part was doing a catch."
Edge Day Surfing


"It is all about trying something new and stepping out of your comfort zone. I did surfing and was afraid of falling off my surf board but I found out you can just get back on after you fall!"