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Students learn about cultures

In one room of Cameron University's McMahon Centennial Complex midday Tuesday, elementary students energetically shook small containers of heavy cream  stopping just long enough to check if they had made butter and buttermilk yet.

Making cream into butter was one of four activities that the fourth- and fifth-graders from Lincoln Elementary School were introduced to during Heritage Day hosted by the university's Department of Education Social Studies Methods class students. 

Heritage Day was planned as part of this year's Cameron's academic festival, a festival held every three years, said Michelle Smith, Cameron education professor. This year, it is "American Identities in the 21st Century," and Heritage Day focuses on the diverse nature of people in the United States and gives the elementary students an appreciation of other cultures.

After a lunch with foods from many different cultures, which the students gave a "10 out of 10," Smith said, the Lincoln students were broken into four groups and each group spent time in each of four activities, rotating to the next activity at the 20-minute mark. Seventeen soon-to-be teachers researched and designed the activities and then led each room full of students in the activities. 

In one room, a lively game of musical chairs and a head-scratching game of Jenga using world languages as the base of the two activities was in full swing. 

Education student Jaycie Simmons explained that in the Jenga game students have to learn different words in various languages to be able to move the Jenga sticks. 

On the other side of room, the musical chairs game was accompanied by national anthems to help students learn about and appreciate others' backgrounds. 

In one part of the McCasland Ballroom, an arts and crafts activity was underway with students making dream catchers while learning about Native American culture.

"It is pretty cool" to make a dream catcher, said fifth-grader Alyssia Diaz, explaining that her favorite activity was learning words in other languages with the Jenga game. 

On the other side of the McCasland Ballroom, students learned about three different careers. Fifth-grader Michael Perkins explained what he had just learned.

"It was about being what you wanted to be. A teacher, an archeologist and  what was the other one?  oh, a politician," Perkins said, adding that the activity he liked the best was "making the butter" and being able to touch a cotton boll, which was different from what he thought it would be.

Cameron education student Kristin Archey taught the students about archeology, which she learned about during a recent summer camp.

"We did an anthropology/archeology summer camp, Diaries in the Dirt; that is where a lot of the research came from," she said. 

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