Saturday, April 13, 2024


Sterling-Rock Falls Historical Society - Junior Historians, 2018

Sterling-Rock Falls Historical Society - Junior Historians, 2018
Elaine Evans

Sterling-Rock Falls Historical Society - Junior Historians, 2018

A team of six retired teachers have completed one week of a Junior Historians Camp through the Sterling-Rock Falls Historical Society and in partnership with the Sterling and Rock Falls Optimists Clubs.  Our theme for the entire week was “Illinois’ Bicentennial.”  Twenty-two students participated in the week’s activities in our new Lincoln Learning Center next door to our historical Lincoln-Manahan Home. We met from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM each day during the week of July 9-13. The timeline provided by the Illinois Bicentennial Commission was used to develop our curriculum. Students learned about the early settling of Illinois and what transportation was used in its growth. The routes of the Cumberland Road, Lincoln Highway, and Route 66 were mapped.  A guest speaker presented information and samples of prairie vegetation. We observed the growth of the Monarch butterfly in its pupae and chrysalis stages. Agriculture, industry, and natural resources were studied, in addition to learning about the accomplishments of various individuals over the course of 200 years. Crafts included  cornhusk dolls, sachets, tic-tac-toe games made from burlap, and Bicentennial-themed rock paintings to be placed around the twin communities. Students made pumpkin pie and ate melon in conjunction with studying the various state symbols and products of Illinois. They made their own “Illinois history books” to commemorate important aspects of Illinois history.

A program was presented to families and the public on the last afternoon. Students received Illinois passport books, Bicentennial pins, and maps of Illinois. They performed a square dance to the tune of “Going Down to Cairo”  and sang the state song “Illinois” along with popular folk tunes from over the last two centuries. Students recited poetry by Carl Sandburg and Gwendolyn Brooks. The program ended with refreshments of Illinois-shaped cookies decorated by the students, melon, and pumpkin bread being served. 

Each lesson and activity of every day was designed to recognize some aspect of Illinois’ rich history. Several photos have recorded those activities, if you should be interested in them. We printed class photos and presented the students with a photo collage as a memento of the program.
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