Last Friday my children, along with six others participated in a History Fair. This is the third time we have been involved in one and every time I am impressed with the learning that happens as a result of all the research each child does. Participants pick their own Canadian History topic and can present it in whatever way they think appropriate.
L14 began researching the involvement of Canadian children on the home front during WWII. After reading from several books she changed her topic to the evacuated British children who were brought to Canada during WWII. She has been interested in this topic ever since she read Kit Pearson’s Guests of War trilogy. Over the weeks of preparation she worked quite independently but would sometimes talk to me about information she had read. I also joined her as she watched a video where former evacuees were interviewed about their experiences. It was hard to believe that some children as young as four and five were transported to Canada, expecting to be home within months but ending up here for years. Many children became closer to their foster families than their own parents. Siblings of big families could not always stay together so did not see each other or their parents for years.
A12 was inspired by a history lesson we did last year on the Klondike Gold rush. She chose to focus, not on the gold mining, but on the treacherous journey to get there. The journey had four main parts: the sea trip on over-crowded boats, the hazardous trek over the White Pass or equally difficult Chilkoot Pass. This trip straight up a snow covered mountain had to be repeated time after time as the miners carried their supplies in 50lb packs, then slid back down the mountain for another load! The next leg of the journey involved cutting down trees and building a boat, in order to complete the last part, the boat trip through rapids and canyons to Dawson City, the gateway to the Klondike. Not content with just researching and presenting her material on a display board, A12 made a miniature version of a miner’s required kit to show the range of the supplies that had to be purchased and transported by each miner.
Helping B8 with his project was a bit of a stretch for me. I had been reading to him about Canada’s involvement in the D-Day landing on Juno Beach. He was very intersted and thought he could make a model showing where the tanks and troops came ashore, etc. Then out of the blue he changed his mind and wanted learn about WW2 tanks only! As the project has to be Canadian history I explained that he would have to concentrate on Canadian tanks. I tried for several days to steer him back to Juno, but couldn’t budge him. So we started at the War Museum, where we talked to a veteran who was volunteering in the LeBreton gallery where all the tanks and armoured vehicles are dispayed. He took us to the four main tanks used by the Canadians in WWII and told us a little about each one. Of the four we saw, B8 chose to research the Sherman M4, the Churchill and the Valentine. He enjoyed learning about the specifications and uses of the three tanks and finding our where they had been instrument in allied victories and where they had failed. I certainly know more about tanks now than I ever did before!
At the fair all three children presented with confidence and I was pleased to see the improvement from last year. All the projects presented were fascinating from the history of the Heintzman Piano company to the history of the national anthem “O Canada”. I learnt about Adelaide Hoodless, who described herself as a “domestic crusader” and decided that next time I have to write down “occupation” on a form, that is what I am going to write! There was a beautiful diorama of a Mi’kmaq wigwam and surrounding hunting ground and an informative project about an orphan who came to Canada as a ‘home child” in the 1930’s. I forgot the camera that day but I hope to post some photos that a friend took.