Friday, October 1, 2004

Idaho history comes alive

Students experience life on the frontier

Express Staff Writer

Joshua Morell discovers washing clothes by hand is hard work. Photo by David N. Seelig

This week Idaho history came alive for students throughout the Blaine County. Fourth-grade students in the valley celebrated the annual Wagons Ho day with a taste of life on the frontier.

?We?re learning what the pioneers used to do,? fourth-grade student Paige McGregor explained.

The reenactment of pioneer life enables fourth-grader students to relate their Idaho history curriculum to the actual experiences faced by pioneers.

Cal and Marla Clevenger bring the Wagons Ho history lessons to schools throughout Idaho. This week the Cleven-gers stopped at Hemingway Elementary in Ketchum as well as Hailey Elementary to involve students in pioneer life. The couple hopes to give students a greater understanding of Idaho history through a variety of activities. They have taught their hands-on history lessons to Idaho kids for 14 years.

The couple arrives to the schools with a covered wagon they refurbished by hand. Their wagon being over 100 years old brings authenticity to the action. The wagon contains hand tools and cooking equipment that students use for their lessons.

On Wednesday, the Clevengers arrived with the wagon to teach Idaho history at the Ketchum school to give their program to Hemingway, Carey and Montessori students. The lesson involved 12 stations that demonstrated how pio-neers lived. Teachers and parent volunteers spent the day as trail bosses guiding the students through the activities.

At the stations, students discovered frontier life through activities like spitting wood to make roof shingles, washing clothes, roping cattle with a lariat and using a branding iron.

?We have to do a bunch of stuff by hand,? fourth-grader Calder Zarkos explained while using a rock to polish a wooden button he made.

During the rotations, the students also prepared a meal for lunch. The fourth-graders made butter for sourdough biscuits, peeled vegetables for a beef stew and then cooked the meal in a Dutch oven over a campfire.

?It?s more fun than it is hard work,? McGregor said.

McGregor and her fellow fourth-graders took the day seriously, dressing the part in cowboy boots, bandannas and even coonskin caps.

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