Adairsville Elementary students and parents embarked on a whirlwind tour of the world Tuesday without ever leaving the confines of the school.
The 43 third-, fourth- and fifth-grade GATEWAY students wrapped up their yearlong study unit on the continents by presenting A Parade of Nations, where each of them presented the intense research they had done on a country of their choice.
Visitors were able to travel to each country, where they were greeted in the native language by a student dressed in a traditional costume, were shown a PowerPoint presentation and artifacts and were encouraged to try a nationally favored dish he or she had made.
The students did presentations for parents and guests for an hour then each grade level from third through fifth had a 30-minute time slot to visit the booths.
“They have worked so hard, they really have,” said Angie Pinkard, who teaches GATEWAY students with Leigha Ellis. “This is a unit that we’ve been doing all year. We’ve been doing a tour of nations so we really pretty much have done an intense study of all the continents, and we realized we were going to be able to touch on just a little bit of the countries because it’s a lot to cover so we let the students choose their country that they wanted to do.”
Students had a rubric of 10 tasks that had to be completed for their presentation: drawing the national flag and a map of the country; learning a song, dance, craft or art form from their country; saying a greeting in the native language; wearing traditional clothing from the country; preparing an ethnic food; choosing a product from the country; providing a PowerPoint with eight to 10 slides containing specific information; displaying artifacts or visuals from the country; and designing a banner with the country’s name for their booth.
“They have gone way above and beyond what we had expected of them,” Pinkard said. “They have gone so far above and beyond, and their parents have been amazing. I laughed and said the kids all came in super-excited like we are, but the parents came in a little harried. They have worked super-hard.”
Ellis said it’s “hard to study the whole world in a couple of months” at the beginning of the school year, and that led to the students choosing countries they wanted to represent in the Parade of Nations and becoming experts on them.
“We went over government; we went over culture, the ways of life,” she said. “We would go over different types of languages. They learned how to convert money. They realized that not every place had a dollar, and a dollar is worth different amounts in the countries so that was an amazing experience. They learned how to translate their different languages. We’re very proud of their effort.”
In January, the soon-to-be experts each chose a country and began digging deeper into its history, government, economy, culture, religion, language and other important areas.
“One of their GATEWAY goals is for them to be able to have advanced research skills so that’s what we worked on and focused on,” said Ellis, noting the majority of the work was done in class. “The creativity goal was brought out through the flag and the map and their drawings. They had to do arts and crafts and an ethnic food. It really helped open up their eyes to different ways of life and cultures.”
Many of the visitors were interested in sampling the ethnic dishes, which included more well-known foods like hummus from Turkey, croissants from France, rice cakes from Japan, spice cake from Indonesia, tamales from Argentina and apple pie from the USA as well as lesser-known treats like Persian grape cup and naan bread from Iran, Guatemalan turron, gallo pinto from Costa Rica, leche frita from Spain, Pavlova from New Zealand and kaju katli from India.
“This is one of my favorite things that we’ve done,” said Pinkard, noting they had “great participation” from parents coming in for the world tour. “They went so far above and beyond, both the students and parents.”
Fourth-grader Alexa Damer selected China for her country for a couple of different reasons.
“I chose it because it has a lot of interesting things in it and a bunch of landmarks and stuff, and a lot of clothes and stuff are made from there, and it’s just a cool country,” she said.
The 10-year-old — who created paper lanterns as her craft and made baat bo fon, also known as rice pudding, for her dish — said she learned a lot about the second-largest country in Asia.
“I learned that red in China stands for good luck, and I learned that women who aren’t married wear their hair down in a ponytail, but women who are wear their hair up high in like a bun,” she said. “They eat a lot of rice. And I didn’t know this — I thought it was Japan — but Mount Everest is in China.”
Chase Gribble, 9, went south of the equator for his choice — Argentina.
“It was just one of my favorite countries because I just have a really good liking for South America, and I just kind of fell in love with Argentina,” he said.
The fourth-grader, who made tamales to share with the visitors, said the unit on continents was “very, very fun.”
Dressed in traditional Italian garb, Savannah Viktora had a couple of reasons for wanting to learn everything she could about the boot-shaped European country.
“I chose Italy just because my mom has been there before, and also, Italy always has seemed really attracting to me because of all the famous and historical events that have happened there, and also, I just like Italy,” the 11-year-old said. “I really want to go there one day.”
The fifth-grader made two Italian specialties, Margherita pizza and cannolis, for the guests.
Devon Beavers, 9, picked a country that may be unfamiliar to many people — the African nation of Burkina Faso.
“My mom’s taken two mission trips to Burkina Faso, and I wanted to do that because it would be easier for me to have artifacts and to make crafts from the country,” he said, noting he brought rice for his ethnic dish.
He also said he enjoyed studying the continents and countries during this year’s unit.
“We got to make a PowerPoint, and we got to bring in visuals or artifacts that we wanted to bring, and we got to make crafts and do a banner and fun stuff,” the fourth-grader said.