Students step back in time

Published 9:46 pm Friday, February 19, 2016

Rainah Abdulbaaqee, left, and Aaliyah Lawrence make candles during Colonial Days.

Rainah Abdulbaaqee, left, and Aaliyah Lawrence make candles during Colonial Days.

Booker T. Washington Elementary School student Kianna Gray repeatedly rolls a sheet of beeswax around a wick until she has crafted her own bright blue candle.

Friday was Colonial Day, an all-day, hands-on history lesson for fifth-graders. The school’s 60 fifth-graders started the day eating a traditional Colonial-era breakfast: Johnnycakes, fried ham and apple cider.

Then teachers — many wearing hoop skirts and patterned, period dress — took students between learning stations to experience a life in the Colonial era. Students baked rosemary cookies, had math and science lessons and made candles.

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“It’s interesting to me because they didn’t have lights … or the technology we have today,” said Gray, 11, as she rolled up wax into a candle. “If they needed something, they had to make it or go somewhere and have it made just for them.”

Jerriamiah Holley, 12, said he had fun making candles.

“If the lights get turned off, I can always do this,” Holley said, referring to storms.

At another station, students made — and tasted — butter by shaking whipping cream and sea salt. That was a history and science lesson, when you look at changing a substance from liquid to solid form, said fifth-grade teacher Rachel Wallace Stansick.

“I wanted to make sure they are having fun and learning at the same time,” said. “I want this to be a memorable day, one that they won’t forget in the future.

“I want them proud to be an American and to appreciate American history.”

Part of the day was still devoted to good, old-fashioned math. Each student had his own board to solve the word problems.

Volunteers from the Constantia Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, in Suffolk, and the Fort Nelson Chapter in Portsmouth taught the students about flags, how to trace their family trees and about the roles of blacks in the Revolutionary War.

In addition, Linda Kennedy, a volunteer at Riddick’s Folly, presented to students.