Having a blast in the past

JOANNE DEGNAN/The Robbinsville Sun Third-grader Tyler Whitman (left) plays an 18th-century game called hoop-and-stick with his classmates in the hallway during Sharon School’s Colonial Day festivities on June 7.

JOANNE DEGNAN/The Robbinsville Sun
Third-grader Tyler Whitman (left) plays an 18th-century game called hoop-and-stick with his classmates in the hallway during Sharon School’s Colonial Day festivities on June 7.

Wobbly wooden hoops chased by exuberant little boys in 18th-century breeches and frilly neck cravats careened into visitors at Sharon School’s recent Colonial Day celebration, a daylong event aimed at showing third-graders how kids in a technology-free world lived 250 years ago.

The spirited game of hoop-and-stick, as it was called centuries ago, was just one activity children enjoyed in a day packed with Colonial-period pursuits that included schoolyard games, square dancing, spinning wool, quilt-making, scrimshaw and silhouettes, the popular shadow profiles of a person’s face that artisans created in the days before photographs.

“The kids enjoy it because it’s just so different from anything they’ve done before,” third-grade teacher Brenda John Goodstein said. “They’ve been studying about the time period, but these activities help them make more connections about how Colonial people lived.”

Costumes were optional, but the vast majority of the third-graders got into the spirit of the occasion with authentic-looking period clothing. Girls wearing long dresses and white Colonial “mob” caps square danced with boys in knit stockings and black three-sided hats in the gymnasium. White wigs and oversized aluminum foil shoe buckles completed the ensemble for some of the boys, while girls accessorized their outfits with white aprons and wicker baskets.

JOANNE DEGNAN/The Robbinsville Sun Students in Cathy Zahn and Shirley Little’s third-grade classes faced off in a spirited game of “Jeopardy!” where all questions were related to American Colonial history and trivia.

JOANNE DEGNAN/The Robbinsville Sun
Students in Cathy Zahn and Shirley Little’s third-grade classes faced off in a spirited game of “Jeopardy!” where all questions were related to American Colonial history and trivia.

In the “recess” room where students played marbles, jacks, checkers, pickup sticks, and “Graces” (a game that involves tossing and catching a small hoop with a stick), 9-year-old Jasmine Sirangelo and 8-year-old Anasha Qaisar, both gave Colonial Day an enthusiastic thumbs up.

“My favorite as been the square dancing,” Jasmine said. “Back when they told us we would be doing square dancing I thought I really wasn’t going to like that at all, but the more I practiced the more I enjoyed it. I even started square dancing at home with an invisible partner!”

Anasha said she enjoyed the Colonial schoolyard games the most, especially pickup sticks.

“You need to have very steady hands to pick up a stick

JOANNE DEGNAN/The Sun Third-grader Patrick Murtland brought a distinctive Ben Franklin vibe to the “Jeopardy!” game.

JOANNE DEGNAN/The Sun
Third-grader Patrick Murtland brought a distinctive Ben Franklin vibe to the “Jeopardy!” game.

without moving any of the others,” Anasha explained. “It’s a lot of fun and I’m getting pretty good at it.”

Most of the boys gravitated to the hallway game called hoop-and-stick, which required them to roll a hip-high wooden hoop by pushing it along with a ruler.

“It’s a lot harder than it looks,” one boy said sheepishly after his hoop rolled a few feet and tipped over for the third straight time.

In the gymnasium, Kim Day of Red Rope Farm used a spinning wheel to show the students how wool was spun in Colonial times. Then each student received a tuft of gray wool and a dowel with a hook so that they could stretch and spin the wool into a bracelet.

Parent volunteers helped teachers prepare the various crafts, supervise the activities, as well as bake and serve a Colonial-style feast for the 284 children in the 12 third-grade classes.

“This is a huge volunteer operation and the response this year was amazing,” Goodstein said. “We really depend on our parents to help make this a success.”

JOANNE DEGNAN/The Robbinsville Sun Third-graders Katelyn Haegley and Nicholas Savoca wear period costumes for a square dance in the gym on Colonial Day at Sharon School.

JOANNE DEGNAN/The Robbinsville Sun
Third-graders Katelyn Haegley and Nicholas Savoca wear period costumes for a square dance in the gym on Colonial Day at Sharon School.

Colonial Day may have been a blast from the past, but it wasn’t completely devoid of technology. In Cathy Zahn’s classroom, students rotated in at various times of the day to form teams for spirited games of “Jeopardy!” on the classroom’s interactive whiteboard. All categories had a Colonial theme (“By George!” and “Martha, Martha, Martha!” for example) and many of the questions with seemingly obvious answers weren’t so simple after all.

“I’ll take ‘Martha, Martha, Martha’ for 40,” a boy in Shirley Little’s class said confidently.

Zahn read the question. “True or False? Martha Washington missed George’s inauguration.”

“False?” the boy asked tentatively.

“No, that is incorrect,” Zahn said as the room erupted into loud groans. “The statement is true. Martha did not go to his inauguration because she didn’t want him to be president.”

As the game went on, the students began listening to the questions more carefully, their radar up for potential tricks.

“Here is the Final Jeopardy question,” Zahn said. “How many states were there in Colonial times?”

“Zero!” someone shouted.

“You are absolutely correct!” Zahn replied, as the room erupted in loud cheers. “There were no states in Colonial times. There were only colonies!”

JOANNE DEGNAN/The Robbinsville Sun Sharon School third-grader Luke DiMascio practices spinning wool with a dowel after watching a spinning wheel demonstration by Kim Day of Red Rope Farm in Douglassville, Pennsylvania.

JOANNE DEGNAN/The Robbinsville Sun
Sharon School third-grader Luke DiMascio practices spinning wool with a dowel after watching a spinning wheel demonstration.

JOANNE DEGNAN/The Robbinsville Sun Aiden Weil, 9, tries out a Colonial game of ring toss, called Graces.

JOANNE DEGNAN/The Robbinsville Sun
Aiden Weil, 9, tries out a Colonial game of ring toss, called Graces during Sharon School’s Colonial Day celebration.

 

 


Warning: file_get_contents(http://graph.facebook.com/comments/?ids=http%3A%2F%2Frobbinsvillesun.com%2F2013%2F06%2F12%2Fhaving-a-blast-with-the-past%2F) [function.file-get-contents]: failed to open stream: HTTP request failed! HTTP/1.1 400 Bad Request in /home/content/85/10397585/html/wp-content/themes/robbinsvillesun/functions.php on line 524

Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/content/85/10397585/html/wp-content/themes/robbinsvillesun/functions.php on line 529

Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/content/85/10397585/html/wp-content/themes/robbinsvillesun/functions.php on line 534

Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/content/85/10397585/html/wp-content/themes/robbinsvillesun/single.php on line 277