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Living history: Fort Rucker Elementary brings history to life

CW2 Keith Cunningham, C Company, 1st Battalion, 212th Aviation Regiment, and his wife, Joyce, watch and record their son, Zephryn, as he does his presentation as Juan Ponce de Leon during FRES’s living wax museum Oct. 1. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

CW2 Keith Cunningham, C Company, 1st Battalion, 212th Aviation Regiment, and his wife, Joyce, watch and record their son, Zephryn, as he does his presentation as Juan Ponce de Leon during FRES’s living wax museum Oct. 1. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: October 10, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 10, 2014) -- There are many ways to help children learn, but Fort Rucker Elementary School takes the extra step to make sure that learning goes beyond the classroom and into its students’ creative minds.

The elementary school treated its students and family members to a living wax museum Oct. 1, during which parents and children got the chance to learn about different explorers throughout history in an unconventional way, according to Stacey Hogan, fifth grade teacher.

“One of our standards for teaching is to have the children learn about different explorers,” said Hogan. “We decided that rather than dive into a textbook that we would assign each student an explorer and they would do research on their explorer in class.”

There were 17 different explorers assigned to the students ranging from Marco Polo to Christopher Columbus, and Juan Ponce de Leon to Jacques Cartier.

The children had two weeks to work on the project, and Hogan said the main things children needed to know in time for the presentation was the explorers’ names, their accomplishments, the different technologies they used in their time, and the outcomes and obstacles they had to overcome in their expeditions.

“They did most of this on their own, but we gave them some guidelines and they made out little note cards to help them,” said the teacher. “They also had to make their own costumes for the wax museum. We told them just to find things around their house and be creative, and lot of them did a really good job. I love that some of our students actually made some of the things for their costume.”

Throughout the process, parents were also allowed to get involved if they needed any additional help in either learning about their explorer or creating the costume, so the event made for a great family activity.

“I think this was a great idea and I think it really gets the kids involved and they’ll learn more from it,” said CW2 Keith Cunningham, C Company, 1st Battalion, 212th Aviation Regiment, and father of FRES student, Zephryn. “I think it helps them retain the information that they’re learning about.”

Zephryn had the task of bringing Juan Ponce de Leon to life, and his parents said he did a great job and enjoyed the time they had to work with him on the project.

“He did most of the research in school, but if he didn’t finish while in school he got to bring it home, so we helped him out a little bit and helped him do his costume,” said Zephryn’s mother, Joyce. “He did a really good job with his presentation and we’re very proud of him.”

For others, the wax museum wasn’t just a chance for the children to learn, but a chance for the parents to learn a little something, as well.

“I really thought this was a wonderful idea,” said Sgt. 1st Class April Dean, 1st Bn., 13th Avn. Regt. and mother of FRES student, Alayna. “It was nice to sit down and do the research with (my daughter) and have it not only enlighten her, but enlighten me, as well. I truly enjoyed it.”

In addition to learning about the explorers and creating the costumes, the children also had to create a map that outlined the trek of their explorers.

Hogan said the wax museum was more than about just learning, but making things interesting enough that they would retain the information that they learned.

“We discussed ways to make it fun, so we thought, ‘Why not have the children do some research, dress like the explorer and do a presentation?” she said. “This is something they are going to remember. When they’re in college, they are going to remember that time in fifth grade when they did a report on their explorer.”

This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/135992/

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