Studies of Africa come alive for group of fourth-graders Entertainers, curators enhance school lessons

March 26, 1996|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,SUN STAFF

From listening to folk tales and studying transportation to watching African dances and learning about tribes, fourth-graders at Crofton Woods Elementary school are getting a lesson about Kenya that can't be found in any textbook.

As part of their geography, history, and government lessons on the African country, the students are learning about Kenyan arts and culture this week from a visiting storyteller, a dancer, a drummer and museum curators.

The African Experience began yesterday when Alice McGil delighted a crowd of about 120 children with "jump tales," or folk tales.

"It kept me jumping," said Chris Robinson, 9, referring to Ms. McGil's style of lowering her voice to a whisper, then booming into the microphone with her next thought. "Every time she did that I just shook."

Mrs. McGil will be followed by musician Tim Gregory, who will perform on African drums, and Liberian-born dancer Dr. Dawn Barnes, who will perform twice tomorrow and four times Thursday. Carol and Doris Ligon from the Maryland Museum of African Art bring a hands-on presentation of masks, textiles, jewelry and musical instruments.

The two-week study of Kenya is part of every Anne Arundel County fourth-grader's studies.

In their regular classes, students study Kenyan government, transportation, tribes and geography. But Crofton Woods teachers decided they wanted to enhance the studies by including cultural aspects of the country.

Art teacher Barbara Cox, music teacher Carol Schwalm and dance teacher Bonnie Russell coordinated with the fourth-grade team of teachers at Crofton Woods to create a curriculum they can pass on to schools throughout the county.

"I think it makes the arts more alive," said Ms. Cox.

Pub Date: 3/26/96

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