By Misty DUPLESSIS
First Steps Preschool in La Crescenta held its annual Pioneer Living event on Friday, Nov. 19. The children were divided into the various groups determined by age: the Pink Group, consisted of 2 year olds, the 3 year olds were the Red Group and the 4 year olds the Blue Group. Pioneer Living is a hands-on traveling museum that has six Learning Center stations, including a kitchen where participants could grind corn and knead dough; a child’s area where the kids play with handmade wooden toys; a crafts section in which old time crafts are examined and necklaces made; the Ma and Pa post where kids experiment with parental chores like shaving and hand washing and wringing clothes in the washing tub; the Gold Rush spot where they got to mine for gold; and finally, the clothing area where students learned to card and hand spin wool.
First Steps director Kathy Ebrahimian first heard about the program through a colleague at a different school years ago and offered the cultural experience to its students for about 10 years.
The event is normally held outdoors, but this year the weather would not permit it. The students and parents did not mind that it was held in a spacious classroom instead and felt that the indoor schedule allowed more opportunity for the children to explore the areas further.
Each group was able to spend 30 to 60 minutes exploring the museum. Ebrahimian explained that the school hosts this function every year just before Thanksgiving.
“[We want to] explain the concepts of ceremony and lifestyles,” she said adding, that it was the desire of the First Steps staff to give students the opportunity to see how life was like in the pioneer days. The exercised also introduced the children to different cultures.
“[The event demonstrates] cultural diversity and how everything fits together in reality. As part of the program children are exposed to not only their culture, but other cultures,” Ebrahimian said.
There was no shortage of help at this year’s affair. Teachers as well as volunteer parents signed up to instruct, demonstrate and guide children through each exhibit. Red Group teacher Tsagik Eloyan noted that it was interesting how some of the old toys still interest the kids. Parent Celine Petrossian looks forward to the annual event. “[I’m glad that the] kids get to experience this for a period of several years,” said Petrossian. This is her son Daniel’s second year participating in the lesson. “He had a great time last year. Each year he learns more from this experience.” This year Daniel was excited to collect more gold coins from his gold mining adventure.
Director Ebrahimian said the exercise helps develop the children’s minds, creating layers of exposure to help build on the foundation for learning and works to constantly introduce new information for them. “Every month there is something special,” she said.
She added that the school hopes to continue to hold events that bring the whole community together.