Monday, July 8, 2013

School Days, School Days . . . .

Spring and fall are busy times of year at the Museum!  In addition to our regular public and educational programming, the Museum hosts several classes in our one-room schoolhouse building.  Our building was the Hensley Township building, built in 1895, and it was donated to the Champaign County Forest Preserve District under the stewardship of the Museum of the Grand Prairie in 1982.  At that time, the building was lifted from its foundation and carried on a flatbed truck to its current site.  While the Hensley Township building never served as a schoolhouse, many township buildings in the period did; to give residents the most return on their tax dollars, many buildings would act as both one-room schoolhouses and government offices.

We decided to use the donated building to present a historic school program.  This program allows students to "travel back in time" to the first day of school in 1890, participating in lessons appropriate to the period which are taught by a costumed interpreter acting as school marm.  Students are given 19th-century names and use replica slates and McGuffy's Readers to learn their lessons.  If time permits, the children also have some recess time during which they run relays using hoops and sticks!

This summer we plan to open the schoolhouse for public programming, which we hope will allow visitors to enjoy a 19th-century school day.  Our first Schoolhouse Saturday took place this past weekend, and we hope to see more "students" in our school house soon!  Our school marm will be teaching every Saturday in July from 2-4pm.

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