Originally Published: June 2, 2014 6 a.m.
Going on a field trip can make learning fun. Having a field trip come to school can make learning come alive.
This was the case recently for fourth graders with Arizona History Day at Del Rio Elementary School in Chino Valley. The year's Arizona studies culminated in a day-long historical extravaganza at school. Teachers set up 20 history stations the campus, with groups of students - 175 in all - rotating among the stations for hands-on experiences.
Many of the students dressed in pioneer clothing or accessories, adding to the experience. The connections between students and community made the day more special with the help of over 40 volunteers including parents, other community members and local historical organizations. Many have volunteered to share their love of Arizona history for a number of years. Special local guests included cowboy singer Mr. Jim Dunham and members from The Arizona Regulators, Arizona Rangers, and Teddy Roosevelt Rough Rider historical groups.
A popular activity station was panning for gold, where students were able to try it themselves in a water trough. They could keep any "gold" found while panning.
With near full-size replicas of a one-room schoolhouse and a Navajo hogan on campus - built by parent volunteers - students crammed on schoolhouse benches and sat closely in the hogan to learn.
At the pioneer women's center, students tried scrubbing laundry on a washboard and making butter from cream. Students watched volunteers make tortillas from scratch before enjoying a taste.
Other popular activities included branding wood blocks and a real cow hide, roping, and barrel races with stick ponies, plus a ranch-style lunch.
The day included a representative for the Cowboy Poets Association awarding prizes to the best cowboy-style poems written by the fourth graders earlier in the week. The winners have been invited to present at the 27th annual gathering of Arizona Cowboy Poets at Yavapai College in August.
Fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Brenda Hubbard was one of the original organizers of Arizona History Day at Del Rio School 15 years ago. She said the idea came from wanting to provide more hands-on experiences for fourth graders to help them understand what shaped Arizona's rich history.