I love doing big projects with my students. There are so many skills that can be incorporated when the project is big and deep and fun! Yesterday was our Civil War Wax Museum (the first for my students, the eighteenth for me)… it was the culmination of six weeks worth of research, writing, discussing, and experiencing. Each student had researched a particular person who lived and played a role in the Civil War. Yesterday they dressed as that person and shared their life with museum goers.
Periodically I interrupted the flow in the museum to introduce myself as Abraham Lincoln and then to ask the students to recite the Gettysburg Address.
At the museum, students each recited their line of the Gettysburg Address from wherever they were in the room. I videotaped this version before we began so that everyone could be heard clearly.
The students also made hard covered books filled with their research, maps, and poems. When I say they made the books, I mean that they measured out the cardboard, pounded nails so they could sew the pages together, and then covered the books with wallpaper.
In the afternoon, all of the third, fourth, and fifth graders visited our museum. In the evening, parents, grandparents, neighbors, and siblings visited. By 7:00pm my students and I were thirsty, sweaty, and tired. But we were also exhilarated, proud, and deep down happy! In the eighteen years I have been teaching about the Civil War and holding Civil War Wax Museums, I have never grown tired of watching my students exceed their own expectations. That feeling is what fosters “growing up”.