Kelley School’s gymnasium resembled a wax museum sports hall of fame as fifth-graders portrayed and posed as famous athletes they had recently learned about.
The final unit of the year had students learning, researching, writing about and ultimately portraying various athletes and their legacies and the obstacles they overcame to reach their goals.
The wax museum unit featured three parts: researching, making a poster board display and being actors in the wax museum.
As part of their initial study, students learned about the lives and contributions from sports figures such as Jackie Robinson, who became the first black baseball player in the major leagues in 1947, signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers and was named Rookie of the Year in 1947, National League MVP in 1949 and a World Series champion in 1955; and Roberto Clemente, a Baseball Hall of Famer who became the first Latin American player to collect 3,000 career hits before his death in a 1972 plane crash.
Students learned about the cultural context in which these athletes competed and the barriers they broke during the times they lived, along with its impact on American life.
For the residency component of the module, fifth-graders chose a sports figure they felt made an impact on history. They took information they gleaned from researching their athletes and wrote scripts.
In May, each fifth-grade class had six sessions with theater artist Brian Coughlin to work on role playing, voice, movement and script writing. Coughlin helped students bring the craft of storytelling into their performances.
Students created posters that depicted their sports figure’s life and legacy along with trading cards in their art classes.
The two-day wax museum was the culminating event where the students in each class came together to become their sports figures. On the day of the performances, Coughlin took on the role of referee. Students were dressed as their athletes and obtained props to help create authenticity.
Parents, family members and the third- and fourth-grade classes were invited to walk around and visit various sports figures in the wax museum.
Fifth-grade teacher Karen Burgess said she thinks all the fifth-graders enjoyed this unit.
“I think they loved it,’’ she said. “They all did an excellent job memorizing their scripts, finding props and creating posters.”