History by the trunk-full
Historical society program teaches about life in 19th century
Students at Mize Elementary had an opportunity to learn about life in Kansas 150 years ago through a traveling teaching trunk fourth-graders opened this week. Inside the trunk, students found artifacts and learning resources to teach about the frontier period of Kansas history.
Included in the trunk were books, activities, American Indian relics and photographs from the Kansas State Historical Society museum. Teacher Jessica Malott learned about a program through the historical society for free teaching resources and checked out the kit. She said the students enjoy it because of the hands-on activities.
"The kids are able to touch and manipulate the objects, which they couldn't normally do in a museum," Malott said. "It gives them a better understanding of something that happened a long time ago."
Inside the trunk are objects representing the time period of the 1800s, which Malott said go along with their curriculum of Western expansion. She said during the four weeks the classes will be working with the trunk, they will learn about Lewis and Clark's expedition, frontier families on the Oregon Trail and local Indian tribes.
"It helps them learn about Kansas history and hardships people faced traveling through our state," Malott said. "We talk about typical families that would pack everything in a wagon and travel across the country in hopes of a better life."
When fourth-graders opened the trunk for the first time Tuesday, Kelly Hyer's classroom learned local American Indian tribes used every part of the buffalo. Students passed around tools made of buffalo such as pelts made into blankets and clothing, bones sharpened into tools, and a canteen made from a buffalo bladder.
After passing around the frontier canteen, fourth-grader Chase Miller said he preferred the modern, plastic water bottle.
"It smelled funny," Chase said. "I think it would make the water taste weird."
Across the hallway, Malott's classroom learned proper flag etiquette using an American flag replica from 1805 with 15 stars and stripes. Malott said this activity was similar to many they will see in this unit.
"The activities have the students split into groups where they role-play as a wagon team," Malott said. "We give them cards that have a scenario or a question, and they discuss it and bring it back to the class."
For Tuesday's activity, students were given examples of "dos and don'ts" with the American flag. Those included do salute the flag when it passes and don't let the flag touch the ground. To end the activity, students learned how to fold the flag.
"It's supposed to be folded into a triangle," fourth-grader Kirsten Knapp said. "It was tough, but I had a big smile on my face."
Students will open the trunk again April 5, 10 and 12 from 11:30 to 12:30 p.m. each day.