History comes alive: Glenshire students go back in time
Lois Moore wanted her fourth grade students to understand what it would be like to live during the days when electricity didn’t exist, when there were no Gameboys to be had, and when baking bread started with kneading dough, not going to the grocery store.
To help her students get the feel for the kind of life California pioneers lived, Moore developed an interactive field trip which fourth grade classes at Glenshire Elementary School have been participating in for 11 years.
On Friday, May 25, one hundred GES students spent the day at Alder Creek Campgrounds taking part in a variety of activities designed to connect them with the pioneer spirit.
“This activity supplements the fourth grade’s study of the Gold Rush and Westward Movement period of California’s history,” said Moore. “We wanted them to spend the day doing what pioneer kids would do … we wanted them to see how different their lives were.”
Students visited stations set up throughout the park where they learned how to pan for gold, make candles, cook bread, folk dance, tinsmith and leather work.
“We have nine stations,” said fourth grader Samantha Marsh. “After each station we write about what we learned in our journal and what we think the pioneers had in common with us.”
Moore and the other fourth grade teachers, Erin Smith, John Deaton and Jan Sturtevant, wanted each student to compare modern-day activities with the activities of the pioneer children.
Kelly Sharp, a parent volunteer in charge of the sourdough on a stick station, thought the children learned a lot from the day’s activities.
“I think this is a good learning experience,” said Sharp. “They get to see what cooking was really like in those days.”
Judy Mathot, a parent overseeing the candle-making station, agreed.
“Guys, listen up. It takes some time to make these candles; (the pioneers) made them two at a time, because they didn’t have the time to do just one … so remember dip, dunk and go,” said Mathot.
As groups moved from station to station, they had the opportunity to earn gold pieces, which they could then trade for things at the Trading Post, a favorite spot in the makeshift village.
“I’m saving,” said 10-year-old Justin Vosburgh. “I want to get something good, that’s unless they come to take taxes again.”
For most students, tax collection was the least favorite part of the day.
“I think I got ripped off,” said Scott Mathot. “It’s just not fair.”
Justin Vosburgh, 10, quickly chimed in, “They just come along and take your gold … and if you don’t give it to them, you get put in jail.”
Moore said that paying taxes was a fact of life for foreign miners and anyone not native to America was taxed on the gold they collected.
After spending the day as pioneers, most of the GES fourth graders said they wouldn’t have minded living without the perks of modern day life.
When asked if she would have enjoyed living in the 1850s, Christine Saunders replied, “Well, it seems like they have really fun things to do and I like the clothes.”
Jordan Jensen wouldn’t have even minded not having electricity.
“It would be fine because we could just make a lot of candles … it’s my favorite thing to do anyways.”
Glenshire principal Danny Hyde said the day went off without a hitch thanks in large part to the support of the parents.
“If it wasn’t for the parents, we could never pull this kind of thing off,” said Hyde.
The 11 years Moore has spent coordinating the activities has also helped get the field trip operating smoothly.
“It all just sort of comes together for us,” said Moore. “Tahoe Donner is kind enough to let us use the campground every year and the parents help make sure things get organized.”
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Xavier Becerra was a candidate for California’s Attorney General in November 2018. Previously he served in the U.S. House of Representatives for Los Angeles.