Summer Learning

It’s summer vacation, but some local students have been spending their time learning about history.

The Fenton History Center holds educational programs to educate and enrich young and old students in many different fields. These programs have been going on for 15 years, according to Sara Reale, educational director. The research center uses artifacts and documents to enhance the students’ understanding of history. The programs entail interactive activities to enhance the students’ experience. Reale said the students have done quite a few activities, including a shoe box dig.

During the History Detectives Camp, students layered shoe boxes with a layer of sand and a layer of dirt. In the sand, they put things that included sand dollars, sea shells and plastic fish. In the dirt, they put a Civil War bullet and other material that might be found in the ground. Later, they switched and they each excavated their own box. One person kept records on the discoveries. Reale and Fran Fair, adult education director, aided children as they engaged in the activity.

“They got to sift dirt and do the whole archeology thing,” Reale said. “They used their gloves and paint brushes and dusted. They also got to see the dig that we did outside before they did theirs. They really liked it.”

The students also learned a little bit about soil classification. Using a cell chart, they determined the type of soil and where it might be located in the ground.

Three different camps have taken place throughout the week.

The first camp, known as Camp Brown, was for students in grades four through seven. They learned about Civil War camps and the soldiers. They also brought in reenactors to teach kids on soldiers’ habits and the techniques they employed.

Then they held a Junior History Camp for students in first through third grades, which entailed a dig. Students explored the on-site archaeology project and dug up the past by investigating various discoveries.

The third camp was the History Detectives Camp in which fourth through seventh graders participated.

Once the inside activities concluded, Reale and Fair took the group outside to teach them about the Native Americans and where they might find artifacts. Such programs happening throughout the summer are available during the school year if schools have interest, according to Reale.

“They can use the programs for their curriculum and Common Core,” Reale said. “If they see something they want to use in the classroom, they can do one of these events.”

For more information on scheduling a program or a school program, visit or contact Sara Reale by phone at 664-6256.