The fourth-graders at Mark Twain Elementary School immersed themselves in Nevada history Monday to celebrate Nevada Day.
The teachers decided to spend Monday teaching the students about the state through interactive and fun activities, in order to help facilitate better learning and make it fun for the students.
“We want them to embrace the lesson in creative ways,” said fourth-grade teacher Jen Allen. The students learned about four big topics in Nevadan history: mining, Mark Twain, Stewart Indian Colony and the topography of the land. The students had to build mineshafts using marshmallows and toothpicks, watch a video on Stewart Indian History, create a 3-D topography map using cookies and candy and listen to history from Mark Twain himself.
“I brought Mark Twain in to share their story and put it into words,” Allen said. “We want to try and embrace writing and make it a part of what they do.”
The other fourth-grade teachers also created their projects around their interests to improve the student learning.
“We went with (projects) we are passionate about, I like projects and STEM and history (so I created my lesson around that),” said fourth-grade teacher Andrea Callaghan. “We wanted to find activities for them to learn about Nevada history.”
“(I did the mineshaft project) so they would understand the complications of engineering and design to make them safe and it teaches them good teamwork too.”
By creating lessons, the teachers were hoping the students would be excited to learn about Nevada and its history. They even let the students dress up as pioneers, Native Americans, cowboys, miners or any other costume that represented Nevada’s history.
“We want them to experience Nevada in a different way because learn about where they live because we have such a rich history,” Allen said. “We want them to be able to answer questions about their own state... and experience it first hand, so that is important. Then it not only prepares them for the fifth grade, but for life.
“The hands on makes them a part of the learning because they get to experience it and it is personal for them and more real. They stay engaged and walk away remembering what they learned.”
This is the second year the teachers have done this project, and Allen said they have had nothing but positive responses from the students.
Many of the students found the lessons interesting, most enjoying learning about the Stewart Indian Colony and getting to make — and eat — Nevada on a cookie.
“I liked learning about the Stewart School and learn about the Native Americans,” said fourth-grader Arianna Gallardo-Yanez.
“It is good cause you learn something new and it is fun,” added fourth-grader Paige Ayers.
Many of the students enjoyed getting to learn more about the state’s founding, especially after attending Nevada Day activities over the weekend.
“I like learning about Nevada’s birth because we live in Nevada and get to celebrate it,” said Hailey Woods. “I like getting to learn about Nevada and learn about new people.”