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Sandy Journal

Utah history program includes enriching activities for Silver Mesa fourth-graders

Jul 31, 2018 03:41PM ● By Julie Slama

Silver Mesa fourth-graders perform a Utah history program in addition to presenting trifold research projects and participating in a mountain man rendezvous. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected] 

Beware — there are wanted posters on bulletin boards around Silver Mesa. 

It’s just one part of the year-end fourth-grade Utah history program that students look forward to each year. In addition to learning about Utah history, they have projects that involve what they could possibly carry in their mountain man leather purse or covered wagon and writing a message in petroglyphs. 

Fourth-graders also have a parent program filled with music about Utah and its heritage and a trifold research project about famous people or parts of Utah history, which they begin in January, according to fourth-grade dual-language immersion teacher Kristen Baird. 

“They can choose an individual or population in Utah history,” she said. “Some students may have a personal connection as they research their own families for their projects.” 

Trifolds lined fourth-grade classrooms with historical facts about Captain Bonneville, the Paiutes, Kit Carson, early railroad workers, Eliza Ann Young, Henry Wells Jackson, Karen Catherine Jenson Nelson and others. 

The trifolds were tied in a short oral report and PowerPoint presentation as well as having each fourth-grader dress up to portray the Utahn they represent. 

Fourth-grader John Hamm did his project on Pony Express riders while Hanne Newell researched the Navajo. 

“I looked up information about the tribe since March so I could present my report and include everything on my board,” she said. “By doing the trifold, it made our program more interesting and fun.” 

Their projects were then displayed during the parent program, where students sing songs such as “There’s No Place Like Utah” and “This is the Place,” and songs about Utah’s Native Americans, fur traders and trappers, pioneers and Promontory Point. 

“They learn and reinforce Utah history through the song program — and it’s something they’ll always remember,” fourth-grade teacher Kristy West said. 

The program, which was narrated by students, featured classmates dressed up, posing as famous people in Utah history, including Brigham Young, Native American drummers, pioneer dancers, mountain men, transcontinental railroad workers and others. It also featured Violet Wahlquist on piano and Tadd Snowder on violin. 

Hanne said that through the program, she learned all 29 counties in Utah while John learned about the Union Pacific and Central Pacific meeting in Utah to become the Transcontinental Railroad. 

Fourth-grade classmate Gideon Kirby said he learned about Utah’s state dances, songs, pioneers and mountain men. 

“My favorite part was learning about the Native Americans’ cliff dwellings and the cliff palace, how they survived by making baskets to use from grains and animals, how they ground their own food and cooked in earth ovens and in their pits in the kivas” he said. “Their petroglyphs tell us what period they came from and what messages they were sharing.” 

The cumulative project for fourth-graders learning Utah history is their annual mountain man rendezvous that is filled with several activities, including listening to mountain man stories and catching a live fish with their bare hands. 

“They learn by living it and they love it,” West said.