3rd-grade students bring history to life with wax museum

Published 4:46 am Thursday, December 22, 2022

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

Third-grade students at Luverne Elementary created an interactive wax museum that incorporated skills and standards covering a wide range of subject matter. 

The students were asked to research a notable public figure they chose from a predetermined list. The children were encouraged to think about how their chosen character contributed to society. When their research was complete, they created a collage based on specific instructions from their teacher and memorized a short speech on their person that included at least four facts. 

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The third-graders dressed up as the famous person they selected and stood motionless around the auditorium, waiting for visitors to the “wax museum” to push the “button” on their extended hands. 

The students came to life when their buttons were pressed, reciting their prepared script that included interesting information they had learned. 

Greyson Oliver, son of Lisa Oliver, chose Robin Williams for the project.  

“I chose Robin Williams because he was a comedian and liked to make people laugh,” Oliver said. “When I was doing my research, I learned that he got to play Koko the gorilla.”

Mrs. Doubtfire, a character played by Williams in one of Greyson’s favorite movies, was his first choice. However, dressing as Mrs. Doubtfire proved to be a difficult task, and he decided to dress as Genie from the animated 1992 Walt Disney film, “Aladdin,” in which Williams provided the voice for the character. 

Leila Bagents, daughter of Chris and Dusty Bagents, dressed as Betsy Ross for the wax museum. 

“I learned that Betsy Ross was the first person to make the American Flag, with only 13 stars,” Bagents said. “I felt bad for her since she was widowed three times and had seven children to raise. I decided to dress like her because I like that the first American flag was made by a woman, and I didn’t think I would feel silly wearing her costume.”

According to Jennifer K. Gilmore, a third grade teacher, the wax museum activity is a unique form of learning that makes a strong impact on students. 

“I love to give children an out-of-the-box way to learn through authentic, interactive learning,” Gilmore said. “When students learn this way, they never forget the information. The wax museum was a great way to push the kids out of their comfort zone while ensuring learning happened along the way. 

“Countless standards were incorporated into the project. They not only learned research skills but also practiced following directions, memorizing facts, public speaking and writing skills. The seventh-grade spectators were so taken aback by how well the third graders did with public speaking and I heard a few say they could never talk in front of people like my third graders.”

Among the famous people portrayed in the wax museum were Neil Armstrong, Paul “Bear” Bryant, Edgar Allen Poe, Mother Theresa, Julius Caesar, Barack Obama, Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth, Abraham Lincoln, Hank Aaron, General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr, and many more. 

The wax museum event was the first of its kind at Luverne School. Gilmore and other school officials say that the wax museum will now be a recurring event.