Greenfield third-graders explore Botetourt history

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Susan Martin (standing) and Patty King (sitting) explained Botetourt’s frontier history via PowerPoint and did other interactive activities during a presentation in the Greenfield Elementary Library.

Toward the end of April four third grade classes from Greenfield Elementary School were scheduled to visit Fincastle for the final segment of their Botetourt History Tour. It was planned to be an exciting ending to a pilot “hands on” history experience for the students, designed in four parts. The project was a collaborative effort between Greenfield Elementary third grade teachers and educators from the Botetourt County Historical Museum.

The teachers’ idea to have their third graders experience local history was sparked by the students’ interest in a display case of artifacts placed in the school hallway by the Friends of Greenfield Plantation group. The artifacts were a cross section of objects unearthed on Greenfield land in 2016, some of which dated back to an early dwelling built in frontier times.

Danny Kyle talking with third graders about artifacts and life on the frontier.

The teachers contacted Patty King of the Botetourt County Historical Museum and together they developed a student history program that spanned the school year.

In October, Museum educators came to Greenfield Elementary. During this visit the Artifacts to Go program explained the significance of the artifacts in the display case, presented a PowerPoint about early Greenfield, and had students participate in interactive activities about the Greenfield Plantation and the way of life in the time of Colonel William Preston.

Later in November, the students took a field trip to the actual preservation site at Greenfield. In small groups they visited the double slave cabin, old kitchen house and the Holliday House cabin. Volunteers in costume served as interpreters to provide a glimpse into the hardships and challenges of living in Botetourt’s frontier past.

Lyn Burton showing third graders one of the slave cabin quarters. The students got to peek inside the door to see the inside of the structure.

In December, the third graders explored the Lewis and Clark Trunk in the classroom. The trunk is packed with reproduction items that were used or discovered on the 1803 Expedition, which has a Botetourt County connection. The trunk and lesson plans were provided to guide the hands-on experience by the Botetourt History Museum’s Artifact to Go program.

The last segment of the history experience was cancelled due to public school closings. In April, the students were planning to visit Fincastle for a walking tour of the Early Cabin, One Room Schoolhouse, Blacksmith’s Shop, and the Lewis and Clark Legacy Site at the Botetourt County Courthouse. Interpreters from Historic Fincastle and the Botetourt History Museum were to lead interaction at each site.

Teachers, historical interpreters, and local volunteers hope to continue to work together in the future to provide Greenfield students with these learning opportunities, as the school grounds and other local areas have much to offer students when learning about the significance that the community played in frontier exploration long ago.

The third-grade teachers would like to thank Patty King for getting this idea up off the ground, as well as other members of the Historical Society who put in much time and effort to help students have a hands-on experience. They would also like to thank school and county administrators for providing support and guidance in allowing this pilot program to be created.