On a school playground, children sat and listened as the words of Laura Ingalls Wilder were read aloud.
That particular morning, the temperature was already beginning to climb upward as Kris Sroka read a chapter from Little House on the Prairie that happened to be about Christmas.
The students in Sroka’s Enrichment Summer School class followed along in their own books as she read.
By the end of the chapter, what Mary and Laura Ingalls received for Christmas that year was revealed – a tin cup, a peppermint stick and a shiny penny for each of the girls.
“Now Laura and Mary won’t have to share a tin cup,” one of Sroka’s students remarked, as another wondered out loud what would become of the cup that the two sisters had shared.
Perhaps, their younger sister Carrie would get the cup, they agreed.
That is an example of one of the many conversations that took place over the course of the “Interactive Life and Times of Laura Ingalls Wilder” class that Sroka taught.
Weyauwega-Fremont’s Enrichment Summer School ended last week, and it was the first time this class was offered.
Sroka, who teaches fifth grade at Fremont Elementary School, explained how the class came to be.
“The reason I started this class,” she said, “was during the year, we read Little House in the Big Woods. There was such a great response. They really liked it. I said, ‘Would you like me to create a class about Laura Ingalls?'”
Her students were in favor of the idea, and half of the 10 students who signed up for the summer program were from Sroka’s class.
It was designed for students who had just completed third through fifth grades.
The class included reading-based activities that were associated with the pioneers, Sroka said.
Students spent the first two days of the class measuring the actual size of a covered wagon and then making a list of the different items they would have needed on such a journey.
They made checkerboards and hiked through the district’s backyard to find such things as pinecones and stones for the game pieces.
Galvanized pails included slates that were made by Sroka, sit upons made by the students to be used outside, and, of course, a copy of Little House on the Prairie.
Sroka taught the children such games as cat’s cradle, kick the can, jacks and marbles.
Kick the can was one of their favorites.
The students also created a timeline of Wilder’s life.
Sroka said she listened to her students, and if they showed an interest in learning about something during that time era, she adjusted her lessons.
Being flexbile made the class fun, she said.
Elementary Principal Kirk Delwiche said Enrichment Summer School went well.
“We had on average between 140 and 160 preK-8 kids per day, depending on the day,” he said.
Fundamentals Summer School 2012 begins Monday, July 23 and runs through Friday, Aug. 10, Delwiche said.
“It is designed to give those invited the opportunity to keep their skills strong and even expand them before the beginning of the 2012-13 school year. “This concept has been really beneficial to those that have attended in other years in that they’ve been able to hit the ground running academically speaking when the new school year begins rather than recouping lost knowledge in the new school year after a summer of not focusing on their academics.
“It practically eliminates the ‘summer slide’ for most of those kids who attend, he said.”
Delwiche believes the students enjoyed Enrichment Summer School and said he looks forward to helping students succeed academically during Fundamentals Summer School 2012.
Registration packets are still available on the school’s website – www.wegafremont.k12.wi.us – under the elementary tab and then on “Summer School.”
Sroka enjoyed teaching the class about Wilder.
“I definitely will do the class again next year. I’ve been hearing other kids say they wish they had taken the class,” she said. “This is my sixth year teaching summer school. This is probably my best year. It’s been fun researching Laura Ingalls Wilder.”