Letting kids get a feel for history

It was all smiles at Peabody-Burns Elementary School last Friday as students got a hands-on history lesson from Pioneer Living.

Pioneer Living is a traveling history exhibit for children that travels to more than 200 schools each year. The exhibit, which has been traveling the circuit for about 15 years now, teaches children about activities at the time of the pioneers, such as baking and washing clothes.

?The big point is to let the kids learn about history in a very hands-on way,? said Tammy Hess, owner and sole host of the exhibit.

?Most museums don?t let kids touch any of the historical things, but this allows them to actually touch and interact with it.?

Stations were set up across the room with different activities at each. A toy table with old-time toys, a baking station, a place to make necklaces and bracelets with beads, a washing pan and scrubbing board, a tub to ?sift for gold? in and even a station to ?shave? at were all available to explore.

Also available was a station about the uses of wool, with Hess adding that the pioneers ?even used it to make daddy?s long underwear.? The comment was met with a hearty round of laughter from the students.

Another draw to the exhibit is the appeal to multiple ages. Preschool through sixth-graders all experienced the exhibit, with the sixth-grade students helping to teach the younger kids.

?This is the only activity we?ve been able to find that?s good all the way from preschool through sixth grade,? said Principal Ken Perry.

This plus the interactivity also impressed the Parent Teacher Organization at Peabody-Burns, who invited Hess and Pioneer Living to the school for her second visit in three years.

?Everyone had such a great time the first time she was here,? said Marcy Ehrlich, PTO president. ?It was so much fun for the kids that we decided we?d like to have her back every two years or so.?

The awestruck look on all the children?s faces indicated the program likely will be returning for several more years to come.

For more information on Pioneer Living, visit jbit.org.

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