Mt. Vernon Register-News


May 23, 2014

Prairie Child program returns to Historical Village

MT. VERNON — Registration is now open for this summer’s Day in the Life of a Prairie Child program at the Jefferson County Historical Village.

However, space is limited so the public should register as soon as they can.

“It does seem to be growing in popularity because they do fill up so quickly,” said Jamie Wheeler, director of community relations for the Jefferson County Historical Society.

The free program, a tradition since 2009, gives local kids the chance to experience 19th Century living through a variety of games and activities.

Two sessions will be held this summer, on June 12 and July 9. Each session lasts from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The June session has been filled, but there are still 11 slots open for the July program, organizers said. Children ages 6 and up are eligible to participate.

Included in the Prairie Child program are academic lessons such as a spelling bee, penmanship practice and ciphering matches, all of which are held inside the Historical Village’s one-room schoolhouse, states a Historical Society news release.

A ciphering match is a kind of contest where students compete at the chalkboard by solving math problems.

In addition, children in the program do several old-fashioned chores outside like washing clothes by hand, rug beating and more, the release states.

Last year, the Prairie Child program was awarded with a Certificate of Excellence from the Illinois Association of Museums.

The goal of the program is to show children what daily life was like in the 1800s, Wheeler said.

“This is one way to bring history really alive,” Wheeler said. “It gives them an appreciation for what they had to do (back then).”

In particular, having to wash clothes by hand has been a real learning experience for children who attend, Wheeler said.

“It’s a very involved process compared to what we do now to wash our clothes,” Wheeler said.

Typically, the Historical Village offers Prairie Child sessions for the public during the summer, with openings for about 15 children in each session.

Sometimes, however, the program is also held during the school year for home school groups or smaller sized public or private school classes.

There is no cost to attend, but participants do have to bring their own lunch.

For more information or to register, contact the Historical Society at 246-0033.

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