BTW steps back in time

Published 11:01 pm Thursday, February 7, 2013

Instructional assistant Patrice Wiggins shows Booker T. Washington fifth-graders how to make a candle during a Colonial Day at the school Thursday. Other activities included making mob caps and cravats.

During a special day at Booker T. Washington Elementary School on Thursday, fifth-graders learned about candle making, the American Revolution and other things that went on during colonial times.

Besides a candle-making workshop with instructional assistant Patrice Wiggins and a presentation by the Constantia Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the school’s third annual Colonial Day also included activities like traditional toy making and colonial dance.

“It’s to immerse our children in history, to give them the opportunity to make the connections,” said one of the event’s organizers, teacher Jennifer Morris.

Email newsletter signup

So much of America’s history took place in Hampton Roads, and even right here in Suffolk, she said, adding, “They need to make that connection and understand that they live in history.”

Teachers came to work in colonial garb, and students were also encouraged to come to school in olden day costumes.

Rooms were decorated to represent the different colonies, with students transitioning from colony to colony.

Some of the activities and lessons included a breakfast of johnnycakes, ham and spiced apple cider in the farmhouse, making traditional mobcaps and cravats in the Massachusetts haberdashery, calligraphy and sealing a letter with wax in the Delaware stationary shop, and picking cotton at the Virginia plantation.

“It’s learning through doing, instead of through lecture or worksheets,” Morris said. “They are learning through being those people.”

Many children don’t understand how things were once different than they are today, said Kathy Walker, another organizer of the event.

“It helps them understand how people lived long ago and (gives them) the chance to experience being an artisan,” she said.

Morris added, “We also don’t have so much access to field trips, so this is (like) a field trip.”

In the afternoon, parents of the fifth-graders were invited to attend the Colonial Reader’s Theater to enjoy reenactments of key events on the road to independence.

Students brought to life on the stage the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, and Yorktown.

One student, Amos Boykin, said he enjoyed learning how to make a cravat. “It was really fun,” he said.

“I (also) learned that one person created a cotton machine and that it was one of the greatest things that he did.”

The school fundraised and relied on donations to fund the event, Morris said.