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Challenger K-8 students learn about life in colonial times


Three boys sprawled on the floor in Margie Yurtinis' kindergarten classroom around a hula hoop that contained the marbles with which they were playing.

Elsewhere, other children were playing checkers, hopscotch, ninepin and dominoes. Still others were trying their hands at improvised cross-stitch, done with markers and graph paper. After a bit, all of the children rotated so each could try everything.

The Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics kindergarteners looked more like children from another era, with their tricorn hats, mop caps, long dresses and aprons. But these modern children were just trying to get a feel for what life was like 250 years ago.

This exercise was the culmination of a integrated unit on colonial America. This particular day was the children's chance to play old-time games and taste recipes from long ago, including creamy chicken and biscuits, peanut soup and shrub, a dessert drink.

The unit incorporated seven disciplines.

For social studies, the children were introduced to the founding fathers and compared modern life to life long ago. The children made soap and candles and wrote with quills.

For language arts, they wrote books, learned vocabulary and read books about colonial times. They sang Yankee Doodle, George Washington and This Land Is Your Land.

"They actually wrote with a quill and paint, hopefully so they could understand more about here and now," Yurtinis said.

Science was incorporated into the making of soap and candles and the cooking. They learned about fire safety.

Yurtinis included economics. She talked with the children about how a sheep's coat goes from the animal to cloth and how cotton from the plant through spinning, weaving and sewing to clothes.

Math was part of the games and crafts. They may not have noticed it, but the children were adding, subtracting, graphing, measuring and analyzing data while they played and cooked.

For physical education, both fine and gross motor skills were practiced while the children hopped in hopscotch, manipulated Jacob's ladder, flipped marbles and scooped up jacks.

The children said they learned a lot.

John Brooks, 6, said he learned that "George Washington won the Revolutionary War. I've been through the battlefield," he said. "Thomas Jefferson got the name Monticello from Italy. I didn't know that."

Nina Swiatek, 5, found out something else about our first president.

"George Washington lost all his teeth," she said.

Lauren Anderson, 6, mentioned yet another presidential fact: "George Washington had to wear dresses until he was 6," she said.

Gianni Labdar, 6, seemed more interested in the country's third president.

"Thomas Jefferson invented the dumbwaiter," he said.

Madison Barrett, 6, was impressed by another invention.

"Thomas Jefferson invented the first toilet in the house," she said.

From Jackson Hoyt, 6: "Ben Franklin proved that lightning is electricity."

Abigail Keister, 6, who was also interested in the first indoor toilet, picked up another tidbit about Franklin.

"Benjamin Franklin made the first glasses," she said.

"They used to call them spectacles," Gianni reminded her.

The parents volunteering during the unit's activities admitted learning some new stuff themselves.

"I didn't know what tricorn hats were . . . (and) all that food is new to me," said Kelly Hoyt, Jackson's mother. "And I didn't know there was ninepin bowling."

Dana Juan, whose son, Aden Juan, 6, is in the class, said she learned a thing or two as well, and commented on Yurtinis' efforts.

"The children learn so much," she said.

Challenger K-8 students learn about life in colonial times 03/13/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 6:19pm]
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