Walking down the hallways of Lawton Elementary school last Thursday felt like a passport to another world.
Between colorful costumes and floor-to-ceiling decorations, Lawton students and staff transformed the school into a trip to Africa. As part of World Cultures Week, Lawton hosted a World Cultures Open House last Thursday, where visitors toured country presentations in the classrooms, watched students perform songs and dances from countries like Kenya, Ghana, Egypt and South Africa, and learned about Africa.
Visitors were given passports to participate in "A Walk Through Africa," in which access to each country was determined by correct answers to trivia questions about African culture. If visitors answered correctly, their passport was stamped and they could enter the country to explore.
Third graders, Audrey Etroymson and Kara Trotman, studied Egypt, and were the passport guards to the country. Dressed in Egyptian-style outfits, the two granted access to visitors who answered "What is the sphinx shaped like?" correctly.
"This is really fun. I like learning about Africa because I get to learn about a place I've never been to before," Etroymson said. "Like I learned that there is more than one pyramid. That was neat."
Other passport questions included, "Can you name three animals that live in Ghana?" and "What tree in Kenya and other parts of African live up to 2,000 years?" Aside from trivia, students and parents experienced the culture with musical performances at the beginning and end of the open house.
Though Lawton's done an in-depth study of different continents before, this year is unique because all grades are learning about Africa-a study theme that will carry on throughout the year.
"This is wonderful. Anytime the whole school can tie into once concept is great," said Keith Skogland, second grade parent. "It also pulls parents in. We're drawn to the event; there is a lot of discussion and excitement leading up to it. The kids definitely look forward to this every year."
Skogland's son Eric studied Morocco, where he learned about different spices used for cooking. Second grader Marieka Lutzkinard studied South Africa, and especially enjoyed learning about the country's history and writing a biography on Nelson Mandela.
Though Lutzkinard rattled off a list of facts about Mandela, she claimed to not know much about Africa, "except they have really good music" that she liked to sing.
"It's nice we're all ding the same continent, and we paired up older and younger students this year too. They are really excited, especially about the music," said Jenya Scharks, kindergarten teacher. "For our community, it's great for them to make connections with countries not as wealthy as theirs."
Interim Principal Kathy Bledsoe was particularly impressed with how quickly students grasped the languages, songs and games.
"They're learning, in-depth about a country through all the different subjects. What's really neat is how some of the projects turned into service learning opportunities," Bledsoe said. "They're getting content knowledge yes, but they're learning things children want to know. They're learning the differences in other cultures, but also the things we have in common."[[In-content Ad]]