The 4th Grade History Fair
In recent years, many school systems have embraced place-based education as a way of immersing students in local heritage, cultures, and learning opportunities, while simultaneously encouraging students to work across disciplines in an authentic environment. For over a decade, the Woodstock History Center has supported the Woodstock Elementary School’s efforts of integrating place-based education into its curriculum by organizing and hosting the Woodstock Elementary School History Fair.
For the History Fair, the fourth-grade class is broken into small teams of three to four students, with each team having its own mentor, who acts as a facilitator and guide. Over a six-week period, these small groups and their mentors meet three times a week, with each group investigating a different local history topic.
Unlike many elementary school research projects, the emphasis in the History Fair is to learn by doing. Instead of simply looking up information on the internet or finding a book that has the information succinctly summarized, students learn by visiting sites in their community (such as the town clerk’s office and probate court), interviewing people, and looking at primary resources (such as historic photographs and newspapers) from the Woodstock History Center’s collection. While students learn a great deal about Woodstock’s history, both from their own investigations and those of their peers, they also have a chance to practice many real-world skills like map reading, analyzing photographs, asking questions, working as a team member, and public speaking.
Ultimately, as the name implies, the History Fair program culminates with the students taking what they have learned during the exploratory phase and creating a project that can be shared as part of a History Fair. Projects run the gamut from game shows to plays to more traditional slideshows and presentations.
Hands on History:
With traditional foods, crafts and activities
The History Center is offering a Friday afternoon history food/craft program at the Woodstock Elementary School as an alternative to Ski and Skate Runners (Winter Wellness Program). In this program, K-4 students will explore how food was traditionally prepared and preserved by using historic recipes to make (and then eat!) old-time favorites, such as apple cobbler and corn bread. We will also visit the Woodstock History Center to see how people lived, and then try our hand at making candles, stenciling, beading, writing with a quill pen, playing old-fashioned games, and more.
New for 2017, the History Center has developed an on-line “Question of the Day” program for Woodstock Elementary School fourth graders. Using this digital program, the teachers will pose a new history question each day for children to try to answer/research. The on-line program will provide the answers in an easy-access format. At the conclusion of the program, there will be a Quiz Bowl, where teams of students will review what they’ve learned in an engaging, cooperative game-show type environment.