By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
London Elementary first-graders are taking a hands-on approach to learning the concepts of “then” and “now.”
It centers on the “traveling trunk,” a collection of items that represent what pioneers owned and/or traded with Indians and other early settlers in the 1800s.
“There’s a deer skin, a candle made out of beeswax, arrowheads, a skillet. Kids can take things out of the trunk, touch and feel them, and compare what the pioneers used to what we use today,” said Annette Rhinesmith, the first-grade teacher who came up with the traveling trunk idea.
Outside of school, Rhinesmith is vice president of the Madison County Historical Society. Three years ago, London City Schools cut funding for field trips, which meant no more trips to the history museum. So, Rhinesmith decided to bring history to the students.
Chris Logan, a Historical Society board member at the time, built the trunk. Dorothy Richmond, the museum’s director, helped to gather items to put in it.
“The trunk is the actual dimensions of what a family of four would have carried their belongings in,” Rhinesmith said. “One of the kids’ favorite items in the trunk are the rabbit furs because they’re so soft.”
The trunk not only serves as a creative way to teach the concept of time and history, but also serves as a plug for the Historical Society.
“Any time we can bring the museum off High Street, we might spark someone’s interest in going to the museum,” Rhinesmith said. “I’ve lived in Madison County all of my life and know the museum is a huge part of preserving our history. First-graders who are 6 years old need to know that, too.”
From autumn to spring, the traveling trunk rotates through the first-grade classrooms at London Elementary, returning to the museum for safekeeping over the summer.
The Madison County Historical Society museum is located at 260 E. High St. in London. It is free and open to the public from 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and Sundays or by appointment. For more information, call (740) 852-2977.