Third-graders get hands-on lessons in pioneer history
Tonganoxie Elementary School third-graders took a step back in time last week at the Tonganoxie Community Historic Site.
Volunteers, dressed in clothing reflecting wardrobes from the late 1800s and early 1900s, provided educational programs in five sessions each day on Sept. 24 and 25.
Helene Miller, school coordinator for the Tonganoxie Community Historical Society, said the experience was a great learning tool for youths.
"We think it's worthwhile," Miller said. "We know our kids are so savvy on computers and iPods. They have no idea there used to be no electricity.
"I wonder sometimes whether they think we're telling them the truth. But they're really good."
During the first session, volunteer Barbara Dale educated students about one-room schools in the Honey Valley School at the historic site campus.
During session two, volunteer George Cooper showed students a silent movie in the upstairs of the former Reno Methodist Church, while the third session also was conducted in the church.
Another historic site representative, Vernilea Fuhlhage, provided a genealogy presentation in the church basement.
Del and Betty Englen, during session four, showed third-graders various artifacts in the Fairchild-Knox Barn before Susy Ross gave students a museum tour. The museum is inside the barn as well.
At noon, students sat on carpet pads and took a break for lunch in the barn before listening to various folk tunes that musician Wayne Davidson performed.
And, to make sure students moved between stations at the proper times, Patti Heubner, Delores White, Janet Moore and Gladys Walters served as bell ringers.
Before the sessions got under way, Miller gave a welcome and handled introductions.
Other field trips are in the works for area schools as well, Miller said.
Genesis Christian Academy students will venture in December to the campus for a program titled "Christmas Long Ago."
Tentative plans also call for some Linwood Elementary School students visit the campus in January as part of Kansas Day.
Preparing for the field trips requires a great deal of work, but Miller said it was worth it.
"I don't think we would spend time doing it if we didn't enjoy it," Miller said.
TES Principal Tammie George said teachers have spoken positively about the field trips. And, she said, the site was an impressive resource in Tonganoxie.
"For a small town and the work that they've put in and effort and energy they put forth, to share history I think is awesome," George said.
The historic site, at 201 W. Washington, is open 9 a.m. to noon Wednesdays and noon to 3 p.m. Sundays.
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