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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

Kelly Elementary students relive days of the pioneers

Friday, January 31, 2003

A Kelly Elementary kindergartener pumps water from an old rain barrel.
BENTON -- Kindergartner McKenzie Roth pulled what looked like a wadded ball of paper towel out of her pocket. "I've got gold," she whispered, as she opened the little ball.

McKenzie had been panning for gold (pyrite) in a tub of water and rock. During the panning, she found three tiny pieces of gold -- and it was all hers to keep.

McKenzie and other Kelly Elementary students traveled back in time Thursday as they relived the pioneer days.

"I think the kids are having a great time," Becky Roth, McKenzie's mother, said. "I just think it's really neat for the kids to see how it used to be."

Roth was one of a handful of parents volunteering to help throughout the day during the Pioneer Living exhibit. She was working in a booth where children learned how wool was carded to brush the fiber straight. Then the children twisted the wool into a piece of yarn and made a friendship bracelet.

Journey Back In Time, a 13-year-old organization based in Portland, Ore., is a traveling hands-on museum that visits schools, providing them with the chance to experience "pioneer living." Seven different learning centers with historical displays and hands-on stations were set up for the students in the Kelly High School gym.

"Children really enjoy it," said Britnie Westbrook, Journey Back In Time representative. "They get to see how much we've progressed over the years. I've had some parents tell me it shows how spoiled we really are."

Children were able to play with over 40 handmade wooden folk toys including pecking chickens, a whimmy-diddle, iron cabin fever puzzles, acrobats and yo-yos.

Students experienced using a lather brush to "shave." They also pumped water from an old rain barrel, scrubbed clothes on a scrub board, and wrung them out through a 150-year old washing machine. Children were given the opportunity to grind wheat into flour and roll out the bread dough.

Artifacts were also on the display tell the story of a great westward movement. A child-sized Sioux tipi was set up as well as the Native crafts such as tools, a rawhide drum, a talking stick, even trade beads from the 19th century so children could learn a little more about Native Americans.

After traveling to Indiana, Illinois and other parts of Missouri, Westbrook must have an idea which station students normally give most of the attention to. "It's funny," she laughed. "I had someone from another school tell me that the boys wanted to make the necklaces and the girls liked shaving the best."

Teacher Ellen Grissom said children love to learn by doing things hands-on. She said she thought the kids were having a great time.

Also it was the 100th day of school for Kelly so some of the children dressed up as if they were 100 years old, donning hats and necklaces with "100" on them.

"I thought it was so fitting the exhibit was today and the kids were learning what life would have been like 100 years ago," Grissom said.

All of the teachers integrated the 100-year theme into their lesson plans this week to prepare the children for the exhibit. "They were asking questions like, 'You mean they didn't have a TV or a Nintendo?'" Grissom recalled.

The day-long adventure was divided into 45-minute intervals to ensure each elementary grade would be able to visit each station of the exhibit.

Kelly Elementary Principal Fara Jones said using Journey Back In Time this was a first for the school and thinks it was a success with the students, faculty and parents. It's very educational, she added.

Westbrook briefed the younger children over the history of the 1800s, but with the older kids, she explained more of the history of pioneer living and talked about the Oregon Trail.

Apparently the adults had just as much fun as the kids. Fortunately for adults who couldn't volunteer and children who missed out on a station, the exhibit was open again last night for Parent Night.

Volunteer-parent Julia Long said she didn't know if she was coming back for Parent Night. "But if my daughter wants to come back, then I guess we will," she said. "It was such a wonderful learning experience. I'm having a blast!"