Sheffield Lake/Sheffield Village
By Michele Murphy
They carried their construction paper passports and luggage and lined up at the doorway waiting a bit impatiently to have those passports stamped. Then they walked through the doorway festooned with blue and white crepe paper streamers.
Welcome to Greece. Second-grade students at Forest Lawn School in the Sheffield-Sheffield Lake School District were in day five of their whirlwind “round-the-world” trip to learn about different countries and cultures. Today, students in Tracy Hoydic’s classroom were ready and waiting to tell classmates all about Greece.
This is one of the Cultural Days at Forest Lawn. Each day, a different classroom serves as host and students lead fellow classmates on a learning adventure as they explore various aspects of different countries’ food, language, arts and crafts, sports, dress or history. In previous days, students had “visited” France, China, Mexico and Germany. Italy was on tap for the following day.
In the middle of Greece, however, Alex Hicks stands out, clad head-to-toe in Greek garb. He explains the costume was his mom’s idea, although several family members contributed to elements of it – dad’s very long T-shirt, a cousin’s clog sandals, grandma’s jewelry to clip his navy blue cloak properly into place. When not being used for a costume, the navy blue cloak serves as a bed sheet. His outfit is topped off by the laurel leaf crown on his head.
Nearby Anthony Muckleroy proudly showed off photos and treasures from his Greek family. Classmates learned his great-great-great-great-grandfather Papamalekos was a Greek war hero.
Children moved around to various stations as they discovered things about Greece. They colored maps of Greece and learned about its geography. They looked at photos and actual examples of Greek pottery. They moved on to two different stations about the Olympics, making paper Olympic torches while learning about the founding of the international games in Greece, and then making gold medals for themselves at a station where the more recent games were featured.
A group of boys studied the Greek flag while going over little-known facts about Greece.
Of course, there was a food table where students were sampling olives, tzatziki sauce and baklava dessert.
From their teacher’s perspective, one of the best parts of Forest Lawn’s annual cultural awareness event is that students learn from their fellow students. Students were ready to volunteer answers when asked what they had learned about Greece.
Jasmine McCoy noted in Greece they celebrate name day instead of birthdays. Dominic Robinson learned 80 percent of Greece was mountains. Michael Dunn said everybody must vote. Alex Hicks said Greece was a leading producer of olives, adding, “I really like them.” Peyton Hunt said she thought the pottery was pretty while Leah McFarland said she learned the Greeks believed in gods and goddesses.
Many were able to describe the blue and white Greek flag, and several knew the blue represented both the sky and the water. Several more commented about the number of houses with blue roofs.
All too soon, students were getting a signal it was time for their return flight to their own classroom.
They slowly tore themselves away from learning that was also fun, packing their suitcases with torches, medals and other mementos of the trip. Sticking to the travel theme, teacher Patti Hicks grinned at her students and urged them to line up by teasing, “We have a long flight. Let’s make sure it’s not bumpy.”
“Efharisto!” (Thank you) called the happy hosts as the plane departed.
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