Saturday, January 20, 2018
Education

Students learn about colonial times through period clothes and games

SPRING HILL

Bob Sager, Nicole Camano and Katie Pullen, all 6 years old, sat on the floor in Margie Yurtinus' Challenger K-8 kindergarten classroom playing marbles. Across the room other children were playing checkers, dominoes and cards. Outdoors, more students played hopscotch and nine pins.

Some of the girls were dressed in long dresses with aprons and mop caps. Boys wore tri-cornered hats.

All were experiencing life in colonial times.

"We've been doing this for about three years," Yurtinus said. "It's hands-on, and they're doing the things that the children and adults did then."

The games and dress-up were the culmination of a unit on colonial America.

"We learned a lot about our founding fathers," Yurtinus said. "It's part of social studies."

The unit included writing, theme-related math and music.

"We also made candles and we made soap," the teacher said.

Parent and grandparent volunteers were on hand to help with the "lunch at the tavern" after the games. The menu included recipes from a colonial cookbook: hearty soup, creamy chicken on homemade biscuits, apple cheddar muffins and cranberry apple crisp.

At the entrance to the classroom, Yurtinus had a table displaying some of the items that might have been found in households during early American days: a cornhusk doll, an iron, a pair of children's button shoes, a wooden spinning top, a tin whistle, a Jacob's ladder and currency.

Katie Pullen shared some of what she now knows about those days.

"I learned about Ben Franklin. He wore glasses," she said. "And George Washington, he was the first president."

Olivia Matles was a grandparent assisting with marbles. Her grandson, Camden Matles, 6, is in the class. She took note of the contrast between the games of long ago and the video games children play today. Bob Sager was sitting with her and admitted he liked marbles, but really preferred video games.

The visitors and kindergartners weren't the only ones learning new things about colonial times. Kayla Magrini, 12, is a seventh-grader who helps in Yurtinus's class.

"I do teacher's assistant here for second period," she said. "Ms. Yurtinus was my kindergarten teacher, too."

She said she found out a few things about colonial times and how to teach.

"I learned how to make candles and soap by hand," she said. "It's important to be able to do hands-on stuff like they used to. That way they understand better."

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