- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 21, 2014

LOGANSPORT, Ind. (AP) - When Amy Hayden, a third-grade teacher at Columbia Elementary School in Logansport, took a quick poll to determine how many of her students had ever been to a fair, she found that more than half of them had yet to experience one.

That all changed Tuesday afternoon when the school’s gymnasium filled with festivities to celebrate about 90 third-graders’ completion of a unit on E.B. White’s children’s novel, “Charlotte’s Web.” Through the book, students learned about animals and friendship, tying the former into curriculum that educated them on the region’s agricultural industry. The students then took what they learned and carried out projects representing the story’s themes that included baked goods, drawings, photography and three-dimensional models using LEGOs and other materials depicting scenes from the book.

Those projects were on display at the county-fair-style celebration Tuesday, an event whose special guests included a horse, goat, rabbits and chickens. Inside the gymnasium, students competed in carnival games, pie-eating contests, made crafts and got their faces painted all to a soundtrack of country music while their teachers chaperoned in flannel shirts, overalls, boots and cowboy hats.

Luann Schroder, a third-grade teacher at Columbia Elementary School, said it was the fifth year the school has held the fair.

“Each year it gets a little bit bigger,” she told the Pharos-Tribune (https://bit.ly/1jrUOzv ).

Schroder added the novel opened the kids’ eyes to agriculture - an industry although prevalent across the county, many young people living in Logansport have yet to experience.

“A lot of our kids don’t get to see much of farms because they live in town,” she said.

The same goes for county fairs, Hayden added.

“They’re excited to even find out what a fair is all about,” she said.

Herbretta Ball was one of those students. As she browsed the tables of treats, Legos and pictures, she said her favorite part of her first fair was getting to see her peers’ finished projects. Hers consisted of a cake with a large spider on top made out of marshmallows in homage to the title character of “Charlotte’s Web,” a story she said she enjoyed for its talking animals and agricultural setting that reminds her of the farm her grandfather owns.

Sarah Smith, a former student of Schroder’s and whose son is now a third-grader at Columbia, spent the afternoon helping kids at the fair’s craft table, where students made spiders by gluing construction-paper legs and googly eyes onto black paper plates.

Smith said she admires White’s novel for its themes of teamwork, standing by your friends and encouraging others.

“It’s so easy to be discouraging,” Smith said, “being able to encourage your friends to me is very important.”

For Adriana Martinez, choosing what she liked about the story was difficult to narrow down.

“I like so many parts that I can’t even explain!” she said.


Information from: Pharos-Tribune, https://www.pharostribune.com

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