I VAGUELY RECALL a field trip I took when I was in kindergarten - to a grocery store three blocks from my elementary school. Two by two we went, with Miss Midall leading the way. I remember that all the cars stopped for us on the wide boulevard we had to cross and that the butcher was very, very tall. That's about all I remember.

When I taught pre-k in Boston, I also took my class to a grocery store. The criteria? With no money for a bus, this was a place we could get to on foot. And one of the children's dads worked there. I prepared the children for the trip. At the store, we looked around and went behind the scenes to see where food was trucked in and meat stored. We talked with the store manager and watched a man stacking the produce. Back in the classroom, we talked about our trip at group time, and then we created a bulletin board, loaded with drawings and quotes from the children, that showed what we did on our trip.

The class trip I led was probably an improvement over the one I took with Miss Midall - at least as I remember hers. But it nowhere near stacks up to the trip Lynn Cohen recently took to Cafe Rustica with her kindergarten class. From planning to execution to follow-up, Lynn's trip was well thought out, prompted initially by the children's interests. She used the participating parents as more than shepherds or chaperones. At the restaurant, the children really got the cook's tour after they performed the tasks they'd decided upon beforehand. And back in the classroom, the excitement and learning continued for weeks.

We asked Lynn to write about community field trips (page 30) because we know how well she integrates children's interests and the importance of community with the rich learning possibilities field trips afford. From the interview questions for the chef to the documentation panel, she does it all so well - and I bet her trips are ones her children will long remember.

There's much more in this issue, including our interview with Barbara Bowman on creating community, our staff workshop based on a Lilian Katz article on the project approach, and exciting news on the special-needs front from Stanley Greenspan. Dig in and enjoy.

P.S. A special cover-story thanks to Dr. Sheila Terens, assistant superintendent of Great Neck Public Schools; Ronnie Shulman, director of the Parkville School; and Robert Hoffman, who took the classroom photographs.