Fifth Graders Celebrate A Colonial Christmas

   Written by on December 21, 2017 at 1:11 pm

Mrs. Rhonda Jones serves punch to Aviaire Jennings during Colonial CelebrationPHENIX – The fifth graders at Phenix Elementary School have been researching how colonists in Virginia celebrated Christmas in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century.  Mrs. Watkins, the librarian, in correlation of Virginia Standards of Learning for Virginia Studies, had the fifth graders do a project focusing on three different aspects of how Christmas would have been observed during colonial time.  The students were divided into three groups and each group was assigned one of the following topics: food, decorating, or singing.  After reviewing primary and secondary sources, the students used journal entries and letters first to find out how the colonists prepared for the Christmas season.  After discussing their findings, the groups used the Colonial Williamsburg site, found in Mrs. Watkin’s favorite links, to find out additional information using a secondary source.  When the research was completed, each group worked on preparing for a colonial celebration.  One group made sugar biscuits using only three ingredients – butter, flour and sugar – and only using their hands (no electric mixer) to prepare the dough.  The decorating group made a centerpiece of apples, boxwood, and a pineapple using a pyramid form that was made of wood and nails.  They also used oranges and cloves to make a fragrant centerpiece.  Finally, Lisa Walker, TDT counselor at the school and PTO president, helped the singing group learn three traditional Christmas carols.

The culminating activity was the actual celebration in the library.  The students entered the library to find it transformed.  Candlelight, cloth tablecloths and napkins, silver trays, a glass punch bowl with real glasses and real greenery decorated the room.  Mrs. Rhonda Jones, a retired teacher, dressed in authentic clothing borrowed from Red Hill, along with Mrs. Watkins, guided the students in a discussion of what they observed about the library.  This led to a great review about what they had learned during the project.  Ms. Walker led the singers in Christmas songs sung a cappella.  The students enjoyed this interactive learning experience.  Special thanks go to Red Hill, Rhonda Jones and Ms. Walker.  Without the help of these community members, the project could not have been completed.

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