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School Notes: Hall students settle into the colonial life
by Jessica Garcia
Sep 13, 2009 | 2348 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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<a href=>Tribune/Nathan Orme</a> - Lonnie Ford, a fifth grade teacher at Jesse Hall Elementary, goes over a lesson on Friday in full costume for Colonial Day.
Kyle Andelin takes his candle-dipping seriously. On Friday, he folded his long wick in half to begin his creation of two candles and dipped portions of both halves of the string into colored wax for one second, then into a container of water for three seconds, back and forth, back and forth.

The 10-year-old said his candle-making, one of many do-it-yourself jobs of the colonial times, was one such exciting aspect indicative of the 1700s.

"I really like how we get to learn what life was like back then and people did things we do today," Kyle said. "You would get to make more of your own things and to make a living you would make more of those things than you would make for yourself."

Sparks' Jesse Hall Elementary School's fifth grade students were all engaged in recreating the daily lives of the members of the American colonies on Friday's Colonial Day as they wrapped up a six-week unit with a rotation of activities among several classrooms. Teachers and volunteer parents helped the kids relate to the routines of kids from three centuries ago with "Johnny cakes," or pancakes as today's children know them, practicing their penmanship with paper and quills and weaving. They also made toys that often involved no more than a few pieces of wood and some string.

"They have this ball attached to a string on wood and you have to try to get (the ball) on the stick," said Ilyana Hobson, 10. "It's really hard. I'm wondering how they got really good at that."

The students also received further instruction about the life and times of colonials through just a handful of interactive white boards available to Hall Elementary at this time. Teacher Lonnie Ford was able to go onto a Web site and find activities and led kids in discussion as he used his pointer to play games and offer fun facts.

"Instead of reading about history, they actually do it," Ford said. "They are able to compare their lives now with what lives were back then."

Hall students dressed up as authentically as they could in dresses, aprons, loose-fitting shirts, vests, breeches and stockings. Girls learned how to make their kerchiefs or hairpieces with round pieces of cloth and ribbons and boys put together their own tri-corner hats with black construction paper.

The teachers say Colonial Day helps put the unit into perspective for their students while teaching a districtwide standard.

"They learn what were the southern colonies like, what were the northern colonies like, what were the middle colonies like, what were the New England colonies," Ford said. "Then they start checking out books and reading diaries and starting writing and it's a great way to engage them in literacy, engage them in reading and helps engage them in mathematics. It's another way instead of just test, test, test, to assess what they're learning."

The tradition for the year-round school in its fourth year is becoming a favorite for teachers, who spend a year planning in advance to come up with new activities and concepts. It evolves as needed and not all activities work as anticipated. Ford, who was teaching penmanship, had a student spill a bottle of ink onto the carpet and had to call in a janitor to clean it up during a rotation.

The kids all glean a little something from their activities and generally say they would have liked to lived the life of a colonial child, if only for a short bit.

"It's really cool because we're getting to experience what it was like back then when all they had was stuff and they had to actually make their clothes," said Hobson, who was keen on the fashion of the day. "They had a ball gown and an everyday gown."

Kyle also likes a seemingly personal connection to the colonial unit as well. His predecessors on his mother's side were the Chandlers, which, by trade, meant “candle maker,” so Kyle's mom, Natalie Andelin, told him the story of how it was possible that's what his ancestors did for a living.

Natalie was helping and observing the kids as a parent volunteer.

"I love this hands-on learning because they can read out of a textbook, but when they get to do these activities, it just makes them have a better learning experience," Natalie said. "Kyle was really excited about today. He put together his own costume.

Natalie also said Kyle loves to learn.

“He reads a ton,” she said. “He's like a sponge; he just soaks it all up."

But there is one deterrent that would most likely keep Kyle from wanting to live in the colonies – another favorite hobby that wouldn't exist in the 18th century.

"(There were) no video games," he said.
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