In Jeri Ball’s fifth grade classroom at Newhall Elementary School, Emily Martinez, 10, and Melissa Hernandez, 11, keenly hammered designs into tin cans with nails.
“In the end it will look like a lantern,” Hernandez said.
The craft was part of the school’s first-ever Colonial Day, a half-day assemblage of colonial games, crafts and food as a final lesson to the grade’s five-week unit on colonial history.
“We just finished studying colonial times so we decided to do this as a culminating activity instead of a holiday party,” Ball said.
Students rotated from classroom to classroom creating wax candles, making lanterns, cutting out silhouettes, learning colonial penmanship, making butter and creating holiday ornaments.
Teachers also got in the colonial spirit sporting bonnets, dresses and petticoats that mimicked clothes from Colonial America.
“It was fun. My favorite part was making the butter,” fifth grade student Bryan Mesinas said.
To create their own butter, students shook heavy cream in a mason jar to create buttermilk and then butter. For many fifth graders, the process of vigorously shaking the cream into butter was both amusing and exhausting.
“We shook it all up,” fifth grade student Diego Ceron said. “If we always did it (make butter) the way they did it back then it would take forever.”
Fifth grade teachers found the crafts and project themselves, searching online resources and school books to determine what each classroom would do.
“I looked them all up online,” fifth grade teacher Kara Sparks said. “Some of the games I found in a colonial curriculum book.”
Although the Newall Elementary students enjoyed learning about colonial times, many said they would not want to live during them.
“It would take lots of hard work,” Martinez said. “I would not survive without my TV, computer, phone, refrigerator, everything.”
The activities allowed some students to continue their education through hands-on learning and projects, an element stressed in the new Common Core Curriculum.
“They’re loving it,” Ball said. “I think that this is good for kids who… learn by working with their hands.”
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