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In Washington’s shoes

Fifth-graders learn surprising facts about Revolutionary War, including women’s heroic acts.

April 02, 2009|By Candice Baker

Hope View Elementary’s fifth-grade students took a “Walk Through the American Revolution” Tuesday.

The annual program begins with six weeks of intensive study in history and vocabulary, and culminates in an event where parents can watch their kids vie for top honors in a live game.

“They were fantastic,” presenter Drew Wheeler said of the students. “Not all the kids I work with are this attentive and well-prepared.”

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The program is facilitated by California Weekly Explorer, a Tustin company whose presenters travel around the state to participating schools to put on the event.

The presenters seem more like entertainers than educators to the kids, who loved Wheeler’s madcap antics and one-liners.

Wheeler displayed the many flags the fledgling country used during the Revolutionary War, and broke up the action with periodic fill-in-the-blanks sessions.

In the event, three teams — the Red Coats, White Tories and Blue Rebels — competed after memorizing lines and facts about Revolutionary figures like Crispus Attucks, John Hancock and Betsy Ross.

Many students said they were astonished to learn the depths of courage displayed by women like Deborah Samson, who spent four years pretending to be a man and fighting in the Revolutionary War, or Lydia Darrah, who learned of British plans for their next attack and sneaked across enemy lines to warn the Americans.

Each child was rated based on whether they memorized and acted out their character’s lines and wore a costume.

Teachers said the kids have a trove of costumes from prior years to choose from, or they can craft their own. Some enterprising boys used baseball pants and socks as knickers and stockings; girls pinned doilies to their shirts to make them look like Colonial blouses.

Kids also rehearsed and staged three battles for their parents’ education (and amusement): the battles of Lexington; Trenton and Valley Forge; and Yorktown.

At the end of the session, the students participated in a trivia lightning round, acted out and sang “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” then enjoyed their own “tea party” — punch and cookies.


Reporter CANDICE BAKER can be reached at (714) 966-4631 or at candice.baker@latimes.com.

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