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Students Owen Barth and Jessica Stewart tried their hands at “shaving,” Colonial style, during the Pioneer Living program at Londonderry South Elementary School on Friday. (APRIL GUILMET/Union Leader Correspondent)

Londonderry students try their hand at pioneer living

LONDONDERRY — Some lessons can't be taught in a classroom.

For the 100 or so third-graders at Londonderry South Elementary School, learning what their ancestors' daily lives may have been like took a bit of ingenuity on the parts of their teachers and a dozen parent volunteers.

During Friday's Pioneer Living program, the children flocked into the school gymnasium throughout the day, where they had the chance to experience various aspects of colonial culture firsthand.

In the days before electricity, doing one's laundry was quite the workout, as student Owen Barth soon learned.
The third-grader grimaced as he used both hands to crank a shirt through a manual dryer after scrubbing with a washboard.

"This is pretty hard," he declared.

Across the room, classmate A.J. Jackson was getting a workout of a different sort, as he ground cornmeal into dough, later rolling out the dough and placing it into cast-iron molds.
"Did people really eat this stuff?" he mused aloud.

Making their way around the gym, the children also tried their hands at panning for "gold," playing with old-fashioned wooden toys, stringing Native American beads and combing out wool fibers to make fabric.
Teacher Diane Moran said the students had studied pioneer life earlier in the school year, but Friday's lessons definitely proved more memorable than reading a textbook.

"They're having a lot of fun with this," she said.

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