Before the store

Published 9:50 am Thursday, May 3, 2012

Jensen Goodell, a junior at Albert Lea High School, shows fifth-graders from Halverson Elementary School how to use an antique washing machine during Discover History Days Wednesday. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

Learning and teaching all at the same time — that’s what Discover History Days is all about.

Derek Burkard works with fifth-graders from Lakeview Elementary School during Discover History Days at the Freeborn County Historical Museum & Village.

This is the 15th year the Freeborn County Historical Museum & Village has hosted the event that has 11th-grade humanities students from Jim Haney’s classes teach local fifth-graders the ins and outs of life at the turn of the 20th century.

“It’s interesting — we’re learning while at the same time teaching the kids,” 11th-grade Derek Burkard said.

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Burkard and his classmate Tyler Shaw were teaching the students about woodworking and the blacksmith shop Wednesday. Burkard spoke about how woodworkers would take a lot of time to work on products to make them high-quality. He asked the fifth-graders how much they thought a cabinet would cost, before telling them it would be anywhere from $2 to $6.

Burkard said their mentors, volunteers from the community, helped them with their research and with how to present the information to the younger students.

From left, volunteer Carl Grandstrand and ALHS students Derek Burkard and Tyler Shaw work together to show fifth-graders some of the tools blacksmiths and woodworkers used many years ago.

“It’s fun doing the activities with the kids,” Burkard said.

Small groups of students from Lakeview, Halverson and Sibley elementary schools went to all different parts of the village to learn from the 11th-graders on Wednesday. Today the village hosts fifth-graders from Hawthorne Elementary School, St. Theodore Catholic School, Alden-Conger School and Glenville-Emmons Elementary School.

Jensen Goodell was another 11th-grader working as a teacher on Wednesday. She taught small groups of children about pumping water and washing clothes with primitive machines. She first taught them how to use a water pump and then showed them exactly how long it would take to wash clothes using an antique machine complete with a wringer.

Nick Tate works with fifth-graders to show them how to use an antique lawn mower. Tate and fellow student Nick Walther were just a few of the humanities students teaching during Discover History Days Wednesday.

“It’d take a really long time,” Goodell told the students.

She said the students had great questions and that she enjoyed seeing their reactions to how difficult some household chores seemed.

“Back then they couldn’t go out and buy soap; they’d make it out of lye,” Goodell said to the fifth-graders.

Haney said that not only did his 11th-graders work hard on their research and preparation, but the fifth-graders were great students.

“It’s amazing how much the fifth-graders remember throughout the years,” Haney said. “And it’s great that it’s local history they’re learning.”