Arbor Creek welcomes historical figures

Pioneer author Laura Ingalls Wilder, aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, Native American Pocahontas and British explorer Captain James Cook stood very still as they waited for visitors to come press their activation button (a mark on their hand). Photos by Marlene Colgan

Pioneer author Laura Ingalls Wilder, aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, Native American Pocahontas and British explorer Captain James Cook stood very still as they waited for visitors to come press their activation button (a mark on their hand). Photos by Marlene Colgan

From the Olathe School District

History came to life at Arbor Creek Elementary School when Pocahontas, Jackie Robinson, John F. Kennedy and Clara Barton visited as part of a fifth-grade research project. The annual historical figures wax museum was a chance for Carrie Hoffman and Bryon Autrey’s fifth-graders to share what they’d learned about notable people with their parents and younger students at Arbor Creek.

Autrey provides a list of these figures to his students and then draws numbers to see which student gets first pick, etc.

“The list has plenty of people to choose from,” he said. From United States presidents to aviation pioneers to scientists and explorers, the list has something for everyone.

Civil rights activist Rosa Parks, Native American Pocahontas, aviatrix Amelia Earhart, Major League Baseball’s Jackie Robinson and American Red Cross founder Clara Barton waited in line with other historical figures before the wax museum began. “The kids really had a good time,” fifth-grade teacher Carrie Hoffman said.

Civil rights activist Rosa Parks, Native American Pocahontas, aviatrix Amelia Earhart, Major League Baseball’s Jackie Robinson and American Red Cross founder Clara Barton waited in line with other historical figures before the wax museum began. “The kids really had a good time,” fifth-grade teacher Carrie Hoffman said.

“We have worked with librarian Christine Walker on putting the list together over the past six or more years. And we’ve expanded the list to include any historical figures we have research materials for,” he added.

Starting in early November, Hoffman and Autrey’s students visit the library to begin researching their historical figure.

“This is part of their fifth-grade curriculum for library in doing a research paper,” Hoffman said. “We use the historical fiction character as the theme.”

Hoffman gives her students about a week of total classroom time to prepare the paper and make a notecard for use in the wax museum. Many students work on this project and the costumes at home as well, she said.

“I told the students to find pictures of their character and then try to find things around their house they can use for the costume,” Hoffman said. “It’s amazing what some of them come up with.

“Many of the parents and teachers told me they really enjoy coming to this and the kids looked great. A first-grade teacher told me her students were really engaged. Many teachers enjoy seeing their former students who are now in fifth grade.”

In the spring, Hoffman and Autrey’s classes team up for a Cool Scientists Research Project in which students research scientists and dress up to share the information they’ve learned about the person.

“The students are always exhausted afterward, but they have a lot of fun,” Autrey said. “I believe dressing up is their favorite part.”

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