Fourth-grade teachers Ruth Thompson and Laura Grimes love working together. So when they came up with the idea for their latest cross-curricular project – which melded two annual assignments, one from social studies and the other from language arts – they were quick to put the plan in action. Hence the CMDS Wax Museum was born.
The fourth graders chose a famous American from a comprehensive list Mrs. Grimes and Mrs. Thompson provided. The selected persons ran the gamut of era and geographic region, from Pocahontas to Jackie Onassis, from Silicon Valley’s Steve Jobs to Memphis’ own Elvis Presley. Other subjects included Amelia Earhart, Wilma Rudolph, Harry Houdini and Thurgood Marshall.
This wasn’t your standard fourth-grade book report. (Student Cole C. described it as “the best book report ever.”) Students first were tasked with reading the biography about their chosen figure and then further researching the person. They crafted a board to use in the museum, which included a regional map to mark where the person had lived; a Venn diagram to compare and contrast similarities they shared with their subject; a timeline of important life events; and a portrait.
They also created a costume and wrote and memorized a one-minute speech to deliver when their exhibit came to life. Each display had its own play button, and museum visitors could activate the exhibit – and the speech – by “pressing play.”
Grimes and Thompson both said the project was a rousing success, and one they plan to repeat each year.
CMDS fourth grader Pritchard B. said the assignment was creative and exciting.
“My favorite part was giving my speech for the visitors,” Pritchard said. “I learned a lot about Ronald Reagan and about his life as a child and an adult and how he impacted society.”
Student Ella M. also said her favorite part was the presentation.
“I liked it when people heard our speech, and they were amazed that we had memorized our speech and we knew a lot about our project,” Ella said.
The fourth graders had a blast with their wax museum, and the entire CMDS community enjoyed visiting and learning more about these famous Americans. We look forward to another exhibit next year!