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Turkey play teaches history while having fun

Camille Doty

By Camille Doty
Nov. 16, 2011 at 5:16 a.m.

Dressed in their finest craft paper Native American-style clothes, pre-school students from the Children's House put on their version of a Thanksgiving production.

Braylen Dujka smiled with pleasure as she twisted, rolled and tasted feathers that fell from her Native American headband. The 4-year-old said she likes dressing up.

"I like my costume, but I like my Halloween one; it's a tiger," she said.

On Wednesday afternoon, the festive toddler dressed as a Native American chief for the Thanksgiving Drama at the Children's House.

Before the children came to the stage to perform, Jo Ann Leggett, the center's founder, taught the parents a Seminole dance so they could practice with their little chiefs.

"I want the parents to be involved with their children," Leggett said. "It would be an added learning." Leggett, an alumna of Florida State University, said she has 33 years of daycare experience.

Braylen and 34 of her classmates sang songs, including "We Are the Indians Tall and Quaint," recited part of the Mayflower Compact and re-enacted the pilgrims' quest for religious freedom.

Some children even told their mothers, "I love you," if the moms were close enough to hear.

Leggett told the young performers, "You all look so cute" and "you stood up perfectly," to keep them encouraged.

For the last two months, the students prepared for the production with various learning styles.

They read books such as "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do you See?" by Bill Martin and made their own costumes and planted corn.

Each student was familiar with their role. Zane Lemke said that he learned about pilgrims. Sarah Schoener said she was going to be King James.

"It's a fun way to incorporate their sense of learning and history, and having fun while doing so," said Annie Gibson, the Children's House assistant director.

The students' next project will be preparing for "The Nutcracker."

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