History through the Eyes of a Second Grader

By Jenni Dobson, Curator of Education ~

“Grandma, did you go to a school like that in 1800?”
“Honey, I wasn’t alive yet in the year 1800.”
“You weren’t?”

The conversation above was similar to one overheard by a volunteer. It was between a second grade student and his grandparent, and Grandma was serving as a chaperone for her grandson’s class. They had just visited the one-room Lone Tree Schoolhouse. Hopefully Grandma took the comment in stride, as she was out on the town with hundreds of curious second graders who were learning about how their hometown looked over two centuries ago and how it came to be.

While the conch days 1ept of 200 years may be hard for a second-grader to grasp, their energy, curiosity, and sponge-likeness is hard for most adults to grasp. History Day field trip week at the Loveland Museum is like herding hundreds of cats into separate pens, but instead, those cats are 1,000 seven-year-old kids with more stories to tell and questions to ask than stars in the sky.

But, the experience is incredible for Museum staff, volunteers, teachers, and students alike. How do we know? Let them tell you… (please note, comments are written in the manner in which they were received).

“I liked the skavenger hunt the most because you get to explore around the museam.” -2014 Coyote Ridge Elementary Student

 “The museum was a big hit but (the kids) also liked the theater and the park.  A parent’s comment was WOW we learned a lot about Loveland today.  Anotherh days 2 parent said my child has not stopped talking about the field trip!” – 2015 Mary Blair Elementary Teacher

“Thank you for the opportunity to help with the second grade history day.  The kids seemed to enjoy themselves and were anxious to learn more so you can’t ask for better than that!”  -2014 Volunteer

While developing programs to teach kids has always been rewarding for me, I am also a HUGE numbers person. Before the Loveland Museum developed the History Day field trip program, about 1/3 of the elementary schools in Thompson School District (a total of 7 schools) would visit the Museum, Rialto Theater, or Lone Tree School annually for field trips. They would schedule the trips on their own, as an enhancement to their curriculum, and provide the transportation with their own funds. We were only reaching about 400 students per year.

With the hh days 3elp of the Lola Johnson Fund and the Thompson Education Foundation, History Days has hosted 19 of the 20 Thompson School District elementary schools in both May 2014 and 2015.  Meaning we have had over 2,100 second graders visit us in the last two years! Many of these students brought their parents back to the Museum and Rialto after coming with their schools.

“The musum was AWSOME! I know no won thinks it is boring!” -2014 Edmondson Elementary Student

 “I can’t thank you enough for how well received the teachers and students were for this field trip. Every detail was well thought out and planned. Your hard work and dedication really paid off as it was an educational AND entertaining day. The students loved it and are still talking about how much they loved it. They make comments such as, “It was the best day of the year!”” – 2014 Winona Elementary Teacher

History Days is a partnership of the Loveland Museum, Thompson Education Foundation, and Lola Johnson Fund to provide a curriculum-based field trip for second gradeh days 4rs in the Thompson School District. In 2013, the new Common Core Standards, adopted by the Colorado Department of Education, moved the study of local history from third grade to second grade. History Days take place over five days and features several topics that enhance the second grade history curriculum. Common Core requires second grade students to learn from areas of History (local artifact function and significance, timelines, historical people), Geography (map boundaries, natural resources, reasons for settlement) and Economics (local goods and services).

The trip would not be possible for all Thompson School District (TSD) second graders if not for the Lola Johnson Fund. Lola Johnson was not only a teacher and board member for the school district, she was also co-founder of the Lone Tree Summer School program for the Museum and an avid supporter of history education. In her passing, funds in her honor were donated by the family to the Lola Johnson Field Trip Fund, held by the Thompson Education Foundation. The mission of History Days is to provide an annual second grade field trip experience where transportation fees are covered so that each and every second grader has the chance to learn first-hand about their hometown roots!

Our teachers h days 5have been more than thrilled with this experience for their students, many of whom would never experience a field trip if their schools could not afford them on their own.

Enough with the facts and figures! Here is what truly matters about the event… the kids! Hear it from them what History Days are all about:

“I learned that Mariano Medina built a brige across the Big Thompson but I didn’t know that he charched one dollar to cross his brige.” – 2014 Coyote Ridge Elementary Student

 “I lerned that Mareono Modena was short.” – 2014 Edmondson Elementary Student

“I loved the part when you talked about Mariano Medina and showed the beaver skin. That war prety cool.” – 2015 Ponderosa Elementary Studenth days 6

“What I liked most is when I got to go into the school house and sit at the olden day desk and get to see how they got punished.”  – 2014 Coyote Ridge Elementary Student

 “My favorite part was the Lone Tree school. I loved the school rules. I would come agin because it was so cool and fun.” – 2015 Ponderosa Elementary Student

 “The scavenger hunt was relly cool.” – 2015 Ponderosa Elementary Student

 “Thank you for the awesome field trip. I learned that the Arapaho Indians tools are amazing!” – 2014 Ponderosa Elementary Student

“I loved writing wh days 7ith the quill pen.” – 2015 Ponderosa Elementary Student

“I learned a lot. For instins I learned about some of the tools that they had back then.” – 2014 Ponderosa Elementary Student

 “I loved the part when we got to tour the Rialto.” – 2015 Elementary Ponderosa Student

 “I loved going on stage”.  – 2015 Ponderosa Elementary Student

 “Thank you sooooo much for teaching us about history in the 1800’s! My favorite part was the games- sack racing was really fun.” – 2014 Ponderosa Elementary Studenth days 8

 “The field trip totally supported what we taught them about Loveland History.  It brought to life what they had learned by showing the artifacts, playing the games, and seeing the places.” – 2015 Mary Blair Elementary Teacher

Last, but not least, one second grade friend summed up the entire week perfectly for me! Thank you, Bella!

 “I liked seeing the orchestra pit and the dressing room. I liked going to the one room school house. I liked that in the mornings, you didn’t sit down until the teacher invited you to. I liked looking at the stuff inside Mariano’s cabin, like the rug, because it made me think- we have rugs made out of fabric and they had rugs made out of straw and animal skin. I liked learning about how the Arpaho people had different jobs to attend to every day. The women, they had to always stay back. They liked to move around a lot so when they moved the women were in charge of packing up the teepee and taking care of kids. The men had to protect their tribe. I liked learning about the school house that has lasted and is the oldest school house in Larimer County – since the 1800s. And I also liked at the museum learning about Mariano Medina when he settled and what he used to survive.”