Agricultural Museum Provides First Graders with Hands-On History Lesson

Recently, Mount Madonna School (MMS) first grade students visited the Agricultural History Museum at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Watsonville for a learning adventure. Knowledgeable docents guided students through various hands-on activities that offered the youngsters the chance to sample some of the daily tasks that kept people so busy in the past.

‘I wanted our studies of earlier time periods to come to life,” and by stepping back in time about a hundred years or so, students were able to imagine a little easier what life might have been like without electricity and all the modern gadgets and appliances that we have today,” said teacher Cassia Laffin.

Students were able to grind their own corn, make their own butter, pump water, do laundry using a washboard, milk some beautifully painted wooden cows – complete with milkable udders – and even play some old fashioned games, like pushing around a metal hoop while keeping it up and rolling, using only a metal rod.

“It was a sweet, simple field trip allowing my young students to see how much work would have been required of them had they been born during a previous century or so,” said Laffin. “There were no grocery stores; families had to hunt, gather and grow their own food. Gender roles were more fixed, and responsibilities were based on whether you were born male or female. Women took their looms with them everywhere, so they could be productive even while tending sheep or visiting.

“My hope,” she continued, “is that this experience gave them a deeper appreciation for the many things they can can be taken for granted, such as the schooling they receive, access to medicine and the playtime they enjoy. In historical times, children had to work just as hard as their parents.”



Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, director of marketing & communications,

Nestled among the redwoods on 380 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a diverse learning community dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believes a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The program, accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) and Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.

Upcoming Events: