By Keysha Drexel
Students at Cherokee Bend Elementary School recently had a chance to gain a new perspective on old-fashioned living.
The school’s fifth-grade classes participated in the annual Colonial Fair at the Mountain Brook school on Nov. 12 – just in time for Thanksgiving.
The Colonial Fair is held each year as a culmination of the students’ lessons on the colonization of the Americas after the Age of Exploration, said fifth-grade teacher Rollins Thorpe.
Before the Colonial Fair, Thorpe and the school’s other fifth-grade teacher, Hannah Peters, taught students what life was like 300 years ago as they studied government, trade and geography of the colonies.
At the Colonial Fair, students went outdoors and rotated between stations that reflected different aspects of early American life.
Parent volunteers manned stations where students learned how to make butter, taste traditional Colonial-era foods and make lanterns out of metal cans.
The students also could see what life was life before smartphones and video games at a station where they learned to play games that were popular with colonial children.
Thorpe said the engaging activities at the Colonial Fair help bring history to life for the Cherokee Bend fifth-graders.
“As educators, Hannah and I both believe that authentic, hands-on experiences are invaluable for student learning,” Thorpe said. “We try to implement reenactments, use primary historical sources and actively engage students in the learning process as often as possible in our classrooms.”
Events like the Colonial Fair offer students a more in-depth look at history, Thorpe said.
“An event like the Colonial Fair really brings the history we are studying to life and engages the minds of our students much more than simply reading about it in a book,” Thorpe said.
New to the event this year, students heard about the history of the first American colonies from Harold Batey, who donned a replica of a Revolutionary War soldier’s uniform for his presentation at the school.
They also learned about the techniques of early American quilters and the quilting tradition from a volunteer from the Birmingham Quilters Guild.
Thorpe said the annual hands-on history lesson would not be possible without the support and help of parents and administrators.
“We are lucky to have teammates, administrators and parents who are on board and agree with our philosophy,” she said. “They not only support us but help organize learning events like the Colonial Fair. The kids and the teachers all had a great time and learned so much.”