The Kanabec History Center recently completed another successful three weeks of Old Tyme Country School. This historical program is offered every summer to students in first - eighth grades, taking them back 100 years to give them a one room school house experience. This year they went back to 1919, the year the Grand Canyon was designated a national park, the pogo stick was invented, and Prohibition was sweeping the nation.
Children attending Old Tyme Country School arrive in clothing of the period, boys donning straw caps and suspenders while the girls wear bonnets, dresses and aprons. Parents send them off with a lunch packed in a tin pail or woven basket with a glass jar of water, tea or lemonade. Students learn what life was like in the early 1900’s, especially in rural communities.
The students are given historical lessons that includes learning about Kanabec County and the town of Mora, as well as Minnesota history and United States geography. Students also learn classic poems, writing with calligraphy pens and ink, world events of the time period, and participate in an oral spelling bee at the end of the week.
While students who attend Old Tyme Country School enjoy the learning aspect, what they like the most is the activities. Every year they walk down to the river on a nature scavenger hunt where they learn to identify and search for items such as oak and maple leaves, feathers, acorns and moss.
“We spend way more time outside here than at regular school, and it’s a lot of fun,” said Damian Schmeltzer, age 9.
One day is designated an outdoor cooking day, and they use the stone pizza oven located on the grounds of the history center. Over the last three weeks they made bread and butter, cookies and lemonade, soup with homemade noodles, and ice cream.
At the end of each week students put on a performance for their families, where everyone brings a treat to share and the history center provides ice cream and punch. Students sing “America” and “Whittier,” recite poetry, put on plays and showcase special talents. Noah, Maddie and Liam Stueber said their favorite part was “getting to be in the performance on the last day and meeting new friends.”
Students who have just finished eighth grade then graduate from the program, although many come back to be helpers, assisting the teacher and playing games with the younger children.
“I just like seeing all the kids have a great time and see them electronic free for a while each day, and I’ve really grown to love them all because of how many conversations we have,” said 16-year-old Cordell Vogel, who attended in the past and now comes back each year to help.
Old Tyme Country School offers three one-week sessions, running from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. This year’s season has ended but registration will open again in the spring. Participants do not need to be a resident of Kanabec County to attend and there is a reduced fee for Kanabec History Center members. For more information contact The Kanabec History Center at 320-679-1665. They can also be found on Facebook and the web at www.kanabechistory.org.