SIDNEY — Fourth-graders from every school in Shelby County spent the day at the Shelby County Fairgrounds, Wednesday, to learn about America’s early settlers as part of the annual Pioneer Days event.
Created by Shelby County Historical Society member Tilda Phlipot and Shelby Soil and Water Conservation Education Director Lynda Adams, Pioneer Days was first presented in 2004.
“It’s a hands-on event that was created to give students a better understanding of what life was like for pioneers who came to Shelby County in the early 1800s,” said Phlipot, who serves as the Historical Society’s executive director.
According to Phlipot, ideas for the event came about around the time of Ohio Bicentennial celebrations in 2003. All fourth-grade students within the county are invited, including homeschooled children. Phlipot said the event quickly became a great success.
“We had decided we would do it for a group of children to begin with,” she said. “We never dreamed we would do it for all of them.”
At Wednesday’s event, the children were split into three different “pods,” which consisted of eight groups that rotate through eight stations in 25-minute increments.
One of the eight stations focused on pioneer schools.
This segment was held in the Community Foundation Hall and was presented by Doug Benson, of Sidney, a retired Sidney City Schools teacher.
At the beginning of the “class,” Benson met each group of children at the door of the hall, rang the school bell, and explained the rules of the classroom.
Once inside the building, Benson taught the students about life as a child during the pioneer era. The school day, he said, would consist of recitation, reading, writing, and arithmatic. The children were often required to complete tasks at home, like cleaning or chopping wood.
One student asked about the hours of the schoolday. Benson said school typically began and ended around the same time as it does in today’s schools.
“One thing that was different is that teachers didn’t give homework,” he said. This illicited a universal groan from the class before Benson clarified that time doing homework was replaced with time cleaning and helping out around the house.
A second station focused on Native American culture.
Professional musician John De Boer taught students about Native American culture through stories, legends, sign language, and music.
De Boer has been a professional musician and composer for 30 years and specializes in Native American flute music. His original flute songs are composed and inspired while playing in natural surroundings by waterfalls or a river.
The students were able to join in on De Boer’s performance by using maracas in company with his flute and song.
Other stations included focuses on transportation, family life/quilting, industries/tinsmith, industries/games/farming tools, food processing and wetlands.
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