Knowlton Elementary students have fun learning history

Mar 8 2012 - 10:07pm

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Nick Short
Nick Short
Nick Short
Nick Short
Nick Short
Nick Short
Nick Short
Nick Short

FARMINGTON -- Knowlton Elementary School teacher Kirstin Reed believed she could teach history in an entertaining way.

Reed's idea soon morphed into giving nearly 100 sixth-graders, in three separate classes, some funny songs to sing and dance to, all of which related to their history lessons.

On Thursday, after several months of rehearsing, the work came together as the students performed for the entire school.

The musical production helped sixth-grader Josie Henderson appreciate history in a completely new way.

"I never thought history was funny before," Josie said.

"I've learned a lot about the olden days, with my favorite part being all of the funny jokes in the play," she said. Those included the line she gave as a skeleton meeting two archeologists for the first time:

"I've got calcium deposits older than the two of you, so can we be friends?" she quipped as she began showing them around the dig site, explaining the history behind the items they found.

The students brought history to life as a chorus of skeletons danced around the stage, singing about ancient times; a lineup of musical Egyptians talked about their days; and other students dressed as martial artists sang about the Asian dynasty as a dragon wove its way across the stage.

Hearing her students get excited about the play is worth every penny and all the time Reed has put into the endeavor.

"It is worth all of that to have the experience for the students, and when everything comes together, they always feel so good," Reed said. "They learn so much about working together and being a part of this big production."

One of the benefits of the play, Reed said, is how well the kids come to understand the history.

"I have noticed that after we've learned something in class, when we start learning the song, the kids are like, 'Oh, I get that now,'" Reed said.

Likewise, if they learn the song first and the historical details later on, Reed said, the kids comment on how it makes more sense to them.

"The play is all about reinforcing what they've learned."

Many of the kids said singing the songs is fun, especially sixth-grader Kalvin Stinger, who played the role of Tut.

"The songs are cool because it's about history, but they're not boring, and they don't sound old," said Kalvin, referring to such songs as "Toga Party Tonight," "Greece is the Word" and "In My Tomb."

Stinger said he enjoyed working on the play this year, and even learned a thing or two.

"We learned about all the civilizations (that were) in the world a long time ago," said Stinger. "I think this play is a good way to learn about it because it adds fun."

Reed knew the program would be a big undertaking, but she knew the opportunity would be invaluable for the students.

"If we're going to dedicate this much time, we want to make sure the kids are still learning and gaining, so we really integrated as many things as possible," Reed said.

Even the singing integrated several musical opportunities, including harmonies and counter-melodies.

Reed said, "Not only are we getting music through singing and musical instruments, but we have dance, drama and are getting a lot of social studies curriculum that the students really enjoy."

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