Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 26, 2012

Hager kindergarten class digs into meaning of Thanksgiving

Mark Maynard
For The Independent

ASHLAND — Kerri Keener’s kindergarten class at Hager Elementary turned back the clock prior to the Thanksgiving break.

She had 44 students — her class, along with Dee Plummer’s — dressed in pilgrim period. Not only that, but they do some hands-on cooking.

The results were astounding, Keener said.

“They had so much fun,” she said. “We were so busy trying to get costumes done. My youngest will tell you, I started sewing hit and miss back in June. I had a few costumes, but not 45.”

Keener wanted to make sure every child was able to dress for the occasion. The students helped with the costumes along with doing everything the Native Americans and pilgrims did for the first Thanksgiving.

“They were amazed at how difficult it was just to get soup made,” she said. “I let them roll their own chicken in eggs and bread crumbs. They were like ‘This is really gross.’ We had some regular chicken nuggets baked in the back. We told them, though, back then you weren’t able to go to the store and pick them up.”

Keener said the program was developed to focus on Thanksgiving and the meaning behind it.

“It let them know why we celebrate Thanksgiving,” she said. “We did some comparisons between now and them. A lot of them, their parents don’t cook at home. Some of them didn’t know how to pick grapes, as they called it, off the vine.”

They also shucked the corn and asked “Why is there hair on the corn?”

The teachers explained that while it looks like hair, it really wasn’t, and described the silk to them.

“We had so much food,” she said. “I can see why it took them three days to eat. It was a great little hands-on experience for them and shows what hard work went into putting the Thanksgiving dinner together.”

She said the children helped sew some of the clothes with the sewing machine. One of them even remarked “We haven’t done any work today!” and another answered “Oh yes we did!”

Keener said the children, ages 5 and 6, probably made lifetime memories through the learning experience.

“This will stick with them when they’re older and that’s a good thing,” she said. “They’ll remember the meaning better.”

They’ll also know that hair doesn’t grow on corn.

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.