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Simpler times come to TOW

Students dress in their very best pioneer clothing to make corn husk dolls and quilts and do a little square dancing.

June 16, 2011|By Joanna Clay, joanna.clay@latimes.com
(Don Leach, Coastline…)

Kids clad in plaid and western hats rotated through Top of the World's fifth-grade classrooms last week, taking a stab at projects with a pioneer's perseverance, whether it was hammering away at a tin horseshoe or carefully weaving fabric.

The students got a taste of simpler times during TOW's annual Pioneer Day.

"In social studies they study the westward movement, and we try to bring it to life for them," fifth-grade teacher Teryl Campbell said.

The fifth-graders transported themselves to the time of covered wagons and Western migration — donning hats, mustaches, prairie dresses and bandanas.

Michael Davidson, 10, was ready for the festivities, which included corn husk doll making, tinsmithing, quilt making and the much anticipated square dancing.

"I think it's good for imagination and creativity," Michael said. "It's just a good way to learn about them."

Jasmine Banks, 10, was making a corn husk doll, which used to be a pastime for many pioneer kids.

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"It's interesting how they lived," she said. "They didn't live how we live today. They had to get their own food. We just go to the store."

Rosie Haynes, the fifth-grade teacher in charge of the corn husk doll project, thinks the day is a way to show students that fun doesn't have to be high-tech or complicated.

"It was a simple life back then," she said. "This is a real hands-on experience for them to see what the pioneers experienced and what the Native Americans introduced."

The activity on most kids' minds was square dancing, and Campbell noted how enthusiastic the bunch was about learning the five dances.

Fifth-graders Eliot Cook, 11, and Will Spangler, 10, both agreed that dancing made the day. Will added that the snicker doodles weren't too bad, either.

The kids took out wicker baskets filled with food, enjoying them out on the field, turning Laguna Beach lunchtime into "nooning" on the prairie. Parents were invited to watch the kids show off their square dancing routine later in the afternoon.

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