SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. – Meadow Pond Elementary School teachers and parents didn’t have a time machine to take students back to 1776 and experience the American Revolution first hand, so they did the next best thing.
With the help of costumes, demonstrations and reenactments, last week the fourth graders at Meadow Pond took part in the school’s annual American Revolution Encampment Day, where they were afforded an opportunity to learn more about the war and late-18th century life.
Students learned drill techniques, donned costumes provided by grants obtained by the PTA, and read articles loaned to the school by the Living History Education Foundation. Fourth and fifth grade teacher Sharon Longobardy has taken courses through the Foundation and has participated in American Revolution re-enactments. Her uniform was actually worn in the Mel Gibson movie, “The Patriot.”
The day began with the “militia” marching with “fife and drum,” followed by a troop inspection, musket drill, and salute to the flag. After the opening activities, the fourth graders rotated between five stations. The first station involved quill writing. The young revolutionaries practiced calligraphy using quills and ink, and signed an “Oath of Enlistment in the Continental Army.”
The event also featured an herb medicine/planting station where students tasted dandelion salad and drank mint tea. “Creating Fire” was also a popular attraction. After the demonstration, students were given flint, a piece of metal, black charcoal paper and flax. Once all the materials were utilized, flame and smoke were evident. Students also took turns churning butter using an automatic churn at another station.
The students became tinsmiths at another station. They poked holes according to a pattern and created design on the “tin” surface. The special games section was another highlight of the program. Students learned that many of today’s games originated long ago, such as naughts and crosses (tic tac toe), nine pins (bowling), tug of war, battle door and shuttlecock (badminton), and quoits (horseshoes).
“[The students] look forward to this every year,” Longobardy said. “The marching and making fire are probably the favorites.”
Lisa Valdes, PTA co-president, said a lot of work goes into get ready for the event.
“There were four weeks of preparation,” she said, “including the organization of the clothing, cooking and tent construction.”
The day also included a lunch of stew and cornbread (with freshly churned butter), which was prepared by parents.