One-room school adventures let local second-graders step back in time to learn what life was like for students more than a century ago.
The entire month of October was devoted to the Grand Prairie Schoolhouse — an entire day of living history as students step back to a day in 1912 at the one-room schoolhouse at the Brown County Historical Society’s Ag Museum.
Lynn Allen, executive director/curator at the Brown County Historical Society, said each second grade class in the county is offered a day of one-room schoolhouse activities — authentic right down to the curriculum books and the lunch in a pail.
“They get to experience the things students then would experience, from lunch to lessons to recess,” she said.
Classes from Horton, Hiawatha and Everest were each scheduled a day and buses dropped them off in the morning and picked them up mid-afternoon from their daily school activities at Grand Prairie — which is a replica of the original one-room schoolhouse that was located northeast of Powhattan from 1869-1962.
The students are greeted by Allen, along with Mrs. Mary Benson — their second grade teacher for the day. Mrs. Benson is actually a retired second grade teacher from USD 415 district, so teaching students is nothing new for her.
Mrs. Benson gave a tour of the one-room schoolhouse and showed the curriculum for the day, which included arithmetic and reading and writing — using books that are replicas from 1912.
“This takes them back to learning how to write in cursive,” she pointed out, opening one of the books. Nowadays, printing is the main method of writing for students of that age.
Mrs. Benson also showed the schedule for the day, which included reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, recess, lunch, and the various classroom activities — including Memory Gem or a poem life lesson they write and learn throughout the day. The students used writing slates to do their lessons, with a piece of fabric as an eraser. She said each student is given uniforms for the day — pinafores and a small vest.
A cold lunch is carried in a small bucket and the students walked to the Fisher Center parking lot with their buckets. Other activities included music, singing and reading a story and their Memory Gem in front of the class.
“We finish with ciphering matches, which is nothing more than a relay,” she said.
Allen said this is the 10th year for the Grand Prairie Schoolhouse and next year she would like to expand and reach out to schools in neighboring counties, to share the wonderful history that the Grand Prairie one-room schoolhouse has to offer.