Fifth-grade students from Thrasher Elementary School did a fantastic job presenting a Civil War Living History Museum on McCoy Farm last weekend.
They encircled the property with 16 exhibits that followed a time line before, during, and after the Civil War, according to fifth-grade Social Studies teacher Amy Garvich.
They started with the Antebellum period with students representing slaves and general populace, then moved on into the Civil War period with students acting as soldiers, generals, spies and such, before ending with the Reconstruction period that included students as carpet baggers, sharecroppers, and such from that period.
A group of “Porch Singers” provided background music as visitors moved through the living history museum.
Third- and fourth-graders were brought to McCoy Farm for dress rehearsal and to get a first-hand look of the project they’ll participate in fifth grade, while family and friends were invited the following day.
Tours began and ended with student groups acting as McCoy Farm historians who introduced visitors to the property that just had a log cabin and was used by Union forces for storage of livestock and other purposes during the Civil War. At the end, another group of historians then shared how McCoy farm evolved and was used after the Civil War through today.
The project was introduced in early fall with a lunch at McCoy Farm, where Thrasher parent and McCoy volunteer Kim Fookes shared the property’s history.
Students then had to submit up to three applications to teachers about which roles they’d like to present and how they might depict each of those roles during the living history museum. Once roles were assigned, students had to research them and gather or make appropriate clothing and accessories.
Ms. Garvich emphasized the living history museum was part of the school’s project-based learning and thus was incorporated into several classes outside social studies.
It was easy to incorporate into language arts, where students had to research, write and present speeches for their assigned roles and characters. Students also had to make signs to advertise the living history museum and post around town.
Students were graded on their research, rough drafts, speeches, and their actual presentation before then writing reflections on their experience at the living history museum.
When asked about the best part of the project, Ms. Garvich replied that “the kids were the highlights.
“When you walked that lane (at McCoy) and see all the kids dressed and go into their speeches, it was just great,” she said. “They do such good work.”
Other fifth-grade teachers involved with the project were Tracy Crosby, Karen Simpson, and Wes Wood.