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Fifth-graders Study American History with Hands-on Activities

Fifth-graders in Jennifer Steller and Tracy Hickenlooper’s classes take part in an extensive study of early American history throughout the school year, bringing the lessons alive with experiential activities. One popular activity is the dye bath, in which students dye wool and wooden beads using natural dyestuff such as walnuts, goldenrod, and pokeberries. Students will use the wool and beads to create macrame plant holders. Students began the dyeing process with a fire. “The fire tender committee starts our campfire with flint and steel and takes turns throughout the day fueling the fire while the dyebath crew stirs the dyebath,” Steller said. “Both groups worked under the supervision of their homeroom teachers and gracious parent volunteers. Water and macrame helpers also play an important role in measuring the cord and filling the dyebath.” Steller added that  each dyebath produces a unique result. Students learn that handmade products are very different from the mass-produced products of the industrial age.