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TTE second graders treasure their ancestors

Second grader Owen Mullison and his teacher Kristen WardBrown display a Scandinavian tapestry, a family heirloom Owen included in his “Culture Trunk.” All second graders at Timber Trail Elementary assembled the trunks, including photographs and other items representing their cultural heritage.


article and photo by Lisa Crockett

Knowing where they come from may help second-graders at Timber Trail Elementary (TTE) get ideas about where they might go in the future. As part of their second grade curriculum for social studies, second graders at TTE filled a shoe box with family artifacts, photographs and other treasures. These “culture trunks,” as they were called, provided opportunities to discuss family origins, history and customs that students still honor today – sometimes without even knowing why.

“I think it is so valuable that culture trunks are included in the curriculum is because the children need to fully understand their rich family history, while also learning about their own community so they are able to make self to world connections,” said second-grade teacher Kristen WardBrown. “It deepens their understanding of their family history while creating a desire to tie their own history with what they are learning in school about their community.”

The trunks proved to be a veritable treasure trove of family history artifacts. Many students brought in old photos, some dating back to the beginnings of photography. Others brought in heirlooms carried by ancestors from countries across the globe; still others included tasty treats made from old family recipes.

Many students gained a newfound awareness of where they came from. “I never knew that my grandpa worked on missiles and knew a lot about the atomic bomb,” said Blakeley Stoughton. Isabella Holsman reflected, “My grandfather sold buggies and automobiles a long time ago,” she said.

Many students discovered ancestors who were members of royal families, others discovered ancestors who were instrumental in the establishment of this country.

“The most enjoyable part of this experience was seeing the fantastic artifacts and pictures that have been passed down from generation to generation,” said WardBrown. “I also enjoyed watching the children light up with excitement as they shared their culture trunks. The children soon realized that many of them had families that originated from the same countries.”

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