SOUTH WHITTIER – Monte Vista Elementary School was transformed into a colonial-era community on Feb. 24 as teachers dressed in period clothing, students churned butter and made candles, and farm animals took over the campus to demonstrate the life of an early English settler.

The all-day event was part of a hands-on, interactive “living history” lesson for fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders in the South Whittier school who are studying the American Revolution.

“Colonial Day is an excellent representation of the activities and lifestyle of the people from colonial times, making the period more vivid for our students and fostering deeper inquiry through hands-on learning,” Principal Andrea Larios said. “It has prompted students to have conversations amongst themselves and with the engaging presenters while asking higher level questions during these interactions.”

The day consisted of several stations where historical context was introduced, tapping into students’ background knowledge. Students had the opportunity to participate in colonial-era activities, including making buttermilk, creating candles out of strings dipped in hot wax, making fragrant pomanders by sticking cloves into oranges and playing various games.

Led by teachers and volunteers in costume, students saw how food, supplies and clothing were made. Students also met with local ranchers who introduced them to a cow, calf and two horses.

“I liked how the rancher taught us the facts about cow milk products,” said sixth-grader Stacey Samonte. “I had no idea so many things come from cows.”

Samonte also attended the inaugural event last year and enjoyed the candle-making activity so much that she has taken it up as a hobby.

Teachers Marjorie Codding, Carolyn Water-Luis, Danyelle White and Traci Flowers all donned period costumes to help set the mood. Volunteer Tracey Gorin modeled a hand-made, colonial-era dress and discussed various garments worn by men and women in the late 1700s. She also displayed some of the tools, leather pouches, and other items they made and carried with them.

“Today ties back to our lessons in that it fits directly into core social studies standards regarding the daily life of colonists, including the northern, middle, and southern colonies,” Codding said. “Through this activity, our students engage in stimulating academic language, critical thinking and evidence-based inquiry – tenets of the new California Standards.


030317_SWSD_COLONIAL1: Monte Vista Elementary School teachers and volunteers recreated the Colonial period for students at the South Whittier school who are studying the American Revolution. Students learned about the day-to-day-life of early settlers, from candle-making to tool-making on Feb. 24.

030317_SWSD_COLONIAL2: Monte Vista Elementary School students combine cloves and oranges in colorful designs to create fragrant home pomanders as part of Colonial Day crafts on Feb. 24.