Kid historians fired up to learn local history

Mar. 13—CRIDERSVILLE — Studying local history is a great way for elementary kids to develop a sense of pride and connection to their community. In the past, a kids historians group in Cridersville was created. When the president of the Cridersville Historical Society, Greg Myers and Sean Heights, of Cridersville Elementary, spoke two years ago, they were both thinking about a second iteration of the group.

"When we started out our first group, we had eight kids," said Heights. "This year we have 32. It's only our second year so it spread in a hurry."

Cridersville Elementary partnered with the Historical Society on Monday. To make history come alive, they used primary sources such as old photographs, diaries, letters, and newspaper articles. Students were encouraged to ask questions and take notes to help them remember what they've learned.

Given some options, students selected which area they wanted to learn more about for the second-year history exploration. The students selected the Great Cridersville Fire.

Students learned how the very old, or archaic, viewed fire. Then a guest speaker from the Shawnee Nation explained how its culture views fire. Then there was a walking tour in Cridersville, where the kid historians saw where the fire happened. Part of the tour included a visit to the Cridersville Fire Department to see how modern firefighters handle blazes. Then an activity in the museum concluded the history exploration.

Docents led groups of students through the museum as they were taking notes looking for items to help them discover fire and how it was used in the area from the prehistoric era through May 2, 1918, when the Great Cridersville Fire happened.

By learning this local history, teachers hope that elementary school students develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of their community, while also developing important critical thinking and research skills.

Reach Dean Brown at 567-242-0409