Here are some of the things a group of Governor Mifflin fourth-graders shared about the customs and traditions of Colonial times during this year's Colonial Day celebration on Thursday, May 24.
'Before you were ten, you knew how to work.'
'There weren't any cars.' 'Electricity wasn't found.'
And my favorite nugget of information…
'They had to use the bathroom outside.'
For more than 25 years, the fourth grade classes in the Governor Mifflin School District have spent time learning about Colonial times in the classroom, before joining together for Colonial Day. This year was no different, as fourth graders from Cumru, Mifflin Park, and Brecknock elementary schools converged on the intermediate school (since rainy weather chased them in from outside) to learn more about life as a boy or girl in the 1700's.
According to Mifflin Park Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Cyndi Stevens, 'Colonial Day offers students an authentic learning experience.'
The day's program began with a performance by the Brandywine High School Fife and Drum Corps. Dressed in authentic colonial soldier uniforms the group marched into the center of the gym and played Colonial music, as the group of fourth graders - many of the girls in bonnets and aprons and the boys in knickers and jabots – watched and listened.
After the musical performance, the students broke into three separate groups – some to the story teller, Jacob Schoener; some to basket making with retired teacher, Denise Sharp; and some to learn about dance with the Governors and First Ladies, a group of Governor Mifflin High School students.
Jacob Schoener, dressed in period costume – complete with a horse whip, told the students what it was really like to live during Colonial times. He said in 1751 a tavern wasn't a place to go to drink, but a place to vote and pay taxes, the place where a judge would hear your case if you got into trouble, and a place weary travelers would spend the night. He said, 'It was absolutely the center of your town.'
The Governors and First Ladies began by teaching the boys how to bow and the girls how to curtsy; then walked them through a basic minuet.
Sharp showed the students some of the materials colonial people used to weave baskets – from leaves to vines to even pine needles – and showed them different types of baskets Colonial children would have used. The students were temporarily stumped about the use of a tall basket with an attached lid. They eventually figured out that it was used to collect feathers. 'And why would they want to collect feathers?' Sharp asked. To make pillows of course. She said, 'They did everything because it had a purpose.'
In the afternoon the students enjoyed hands-on crafts typical of colonial times, such as stenciling, tin punching, making apple sauce, tussie mussies, soft pretzels, and more. The day ended with a group of Cumru parent volunteers and the Cumru Fire Department participating in a bucket brigade.