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History comes alive at Madison elementary

Albert Einstein and George Washington Carver were among the historic reenactors for the Living History Museum at Madison Elementary School. CONTRIBUTED
Albert Einstein and George Washington Carver were among the historic reenactors for the Living History Museum at Madison Elementary School. CONTRIBUTED

MADISON – Students and teachers had to do double takes when fifth-graders assumed new personalities for the Living History Museum at Madison Elementary School.

Fifth-graders researched historical figures and then dressed in period clothes to discuss their new persona’s life. Parents and all students — kindergartners through sixth-graders — visited the ‘museum.’

“This museum provided these 73 fifth-graders the opportunity to read biographies about different people and become that person for the day,” fifth-grade teacher Karen Hartselle said. “The students became more motivated to read because it was about a person they were interested in.”

Some of these students at Madison elementary chose individuals they were unfamiliar with so they could learn about that person, Hartselle said. The goal was for the students to tell the points of view and experiences from the perspective of their historical personality.

The fifth-graders had no restrictions on time periods in history from which they could choose. “A broad range of individuals were chosen, from the time of Cleopatra to the present with Barak Obama,” Hartselle said.

The project required students to find 10 facts or details about their person from the biography they chose, make a tri-board display depicting different events in that person’s life and dress as that person would have dressed. “Each child gave an oral presentation about the person they chose, creating a timeline of their life,” Hartselle said.

Izzy chose Walt Disney “because he was fun. I liked all his movies, and I wanted to wear a mustache.” Portraying Albert Einstein, April found “lots of history behind him.”

Skyler chose Anne Franks. “I wanted to learn about her. Anne was very interesting,” Skyler said. Another fifth-grader depicted Casey Jones because “Casey was a train engineer and I like trains.”

Shirley Temple was another character. “Shirley was very talented, and I wanted to know more about her life,” her ‘actress’ said.

“Even though they were nervous at first, the students enjoyed their day of portraying someone in history,” Hartselle said. “They said they would do it over again if they could, in order to be someone else.”

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