Grinding corn, driving spikes and sawing logs

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 16, 2003

Grinding corn with a brick was not going well Wednesday morning.

&uot;My bag broke open,&uot; said Sibley Elementary fifth-grader Dyllan Engebretson as he and his classmates pounded red bricks into plastic bags filled with dry corn.

&uot;Is that why they made those machines?&uot; classmate Robin Roe asked, referring to the grinder inside the small mill in the 19th-century village near the Freeborn County Fairgrounds.

Email newsletter signup

She was right, an 11th-grader told her.

For most of the day, the kids wandered the grounds, asking questions of the 11th-graders from Albert Lea High School.

It was part of History Day, a program in its seventh year that gives 11th-graders the chance to teach kids about what life was once like, and gives fifth-graders hands-on lessons about life in America from 1858 to 1911.

Aside from grinding corn, they pounded stakes into railroad ties and sawed a log in half, among other things.

Roe said the class was there &uot;so we know what life was like.&uot;

&uot;Was it easy or hard?&uot; classmate Mollie Nelson asked rhetorically.

Eleventh-graders told fifth-graders about things like the work a cobbler might do to someone’s shoe and just how a blacksmith’s shop operated.

Teacher Jim Haney said the program helps his high-school students learn by teaching and takes kids out of the classroom, giving history more of a physical context. The program receives support from the Freeborn County Historical Society.

He said the program began with only one elementary school attending the program. Now, schools from around the county attend. He said the program has gotten attention from the Minnesota Department of Education, as well as districts in other counties where officials are interested in having a similar class.

(Contact Tim Sturrock at tim.sturrock or 379-3438.)