Elementary education students in OBU’s social studies methods course recently hosted an interactive children’s museum project for fifth graders from North Rock Creek on the university’s campus. The title for this semester’s museum was “I Survived”, based on the New York Times bestselling series.
The author of the “I Survived” book series, Lauren Tarshis, writes historical fiction about key events through the eyes of a child survivor. The theme was chosen to emphasize that hard times do happen in a nation, but survival is the key.
This year’s interactive displays portrayed four key historic events highlighting the author’s message, “When disaster strikes, heroes are made.” The OBU students created the living history museum displays for the Revolutionary War, Civil War, Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 attack.
The delivery of instruction included hands-on experiences, dressing in styles of clothing that depicted each time period and creating engaging activities to educate the students.
The different displays featured activities such as having tea with the wife of King George, working as a silversmith and making butter. In the Pearl Harbor session, students experienced an enactment of the bombings, studied the timeline of events and discussed reactions of the country regarding the shocking attack.
As part of the setting of the Civil War, the students learned to weave textiles in the industrialized North and enjoyed lemonade and cookies on the porch of a plantation owner. The museum’s display of New York City emphasized the shock and dismay of the Twin Towers attack. Students saw the experience through the perspective of vendors on the street and the reaction of the crowds and country.
At the conclusion of each session, OBU education students helped the elementary students recognize the brave and heroic acts of key people during these difficult times in history. Their instruction emphasized a strong principle of truth and hope that can be learned. The visiting students were instructed to write messages to the heroes from each period and appreciate their bravery, courage and influence.
Sixty-six students participated in the interactive history museum. Laci Copelin, a 5th grade teacher from North Rock Creek said, “We are thrilled to be invited to participate in such an engaging field trip. This experience immerses our students in history in an exceptional way. The OBU students bring history to life with such heart and passion. We can then bring back these experiences to our classroom and talk about them in the future. The excitement from this day lasts for a long time with our students.”
Dr. Jeanne Akin, Mary A. White Professor of Education at OBU, originated the idea of the interactive museum over twenty years ago. She commented, “Our students work extensively nearly all semester on this pivotal project. They create all the curriculum, props and learning activities to make the day a meaningful one for those attending. In doing so, they discover that it is rigorous work to bring social studies content alive and make it meaningful for children.”
The OBU teacher education students that created the interactive museum are Baily Shiflet, Kenzie Murphey, Charlize Chezem, Gracie Pipes, Reagan Tidwell, Grace Morrison, Paige Witt, Britney Mace, Emily Trimble, Emma Carter, A.K. Harris, and Marysa Rake.
Senior teacher education student Kenzie Murphey said, “What I found most rewarding about this project was seeing the students really engage and become eager to learn about history. I was able to see them recognize the significance of these events rather than just reading it out of a textbook.”
Britney Mace, a senior special education/elementary education major, who depicted a British solider in the Revolutionary War, commented, “What I found most rewarding about the social studies project was seeing the history come to life. The students got to become a part of the story and learn through the experience. It was amazing and I have never seen anything like it.”
Gracie Pipes, a senior elementary education major, who participated in the Pearl Harbor exhibit, said, “It was such a rewarding experience in terms of seeing our dreams become a reality and seeing that reality be a meaningful learning experience for students.”
At the conclusion of the event, Akin commented, “The goal is for these future teachers to realize the power and impact that comes with teaching history. I love to see the tremendous growth that takes place in my students from the inception of this project all the way to the culmination of this day.”
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