As we approach the end of the school year, some of our favorite end-of-year events approach. Two of them are Grade 3’s State Fair next week and Grade 4’s Wax Museum in early June. There are many similarities between them. Each student chooses a state (in the case of Grade 3) or a famous person (for our Grade 4 students), and does a deep research dive on their topic. After weeks of work, both events culminate with an event in the Multipurpose Room where each student presents for approximately two hours. All of that time is spent explaining their state or person to a series of students and parents who are invited to tour through. There is no telling what sort of question may arise from an inquisitive attendee, so our students have to be well-versed in their subject.
The students gain confidence when they have a depth of knowledge in what they are presenting. In order to give them the best opportunity to acquire this knowledge, both of these projects are what we call “cross-curricular”. This means that multiple areas of our program work together during this preparation period to help the students deepen their learning about the state or the person.
For instance, in art class, the Grade 3 students have each crafted and painted a model of their chosen state’s bird to display. In both grades, students use social studies and geography to locate either the birthplace of their person or the location of their state and investigate the economy of the location, its major industries, its natural resources, and its connection with neighboring states or countries. Library class time is used to help the students do research and understand the difference between primary and secondary sources. Technology comes into play, too, because all students are expected to use the iPads to create a slide show or iMovie to illustrate key facts about their chosen state or person.
This approach is important to helping deepen the understanding of the subject of their research and allows the children to make connections. “Students gain such pride in their state and begin to identify with it. We often hear, ‘Oh look what I found!’ as the students get very excited when these connections come to light during their State Fair research,” says Anne Craig, Grade 3 co-teacher.
The learning goes beyond what our program normally covers as well. It has become traditional for Grade 3 students to augment their display with a traditional or famous food from their state. This leads to delicious learning by all the State Fair attendees who may enjoy Texas chili, Maine blueberries, or Hawaiian pineapple slices. Our Grade 4 students fashion costumes which mirror the clothing of the era in which their famous person lived, and they use their performing arts skills to assume their subject’s persona in this living Wax Museum.
Be sure to mark your calendars to attend both of these events and celebrate the deep cross-curriculum connections these young students have made. The Grade 3 State Fair is on Tuesday, May 23 at 9:30 a.m. and Grade 4’s Wax Museum is on June 1 at 1:30 p.m.