By Katie V. Jones
11:04 PM EST, February 25, 2012
A simple game of rolling marbles into the correct "stall" — also known as a slot in a cardboard box — had participants giggling on the morning of Feb. 18. The youth, ranging in age from 3 to 6 years, were enjoying learning about games of yesteryear as part of the ongoing series, "Past Times for Children," at the Historical Society of Carroll County.
This is the first year for the program, which was created by volunteer Wendy Raith as a way to attract more people — particularly youngsters and parents — to the museum.
A former preschool and kindergarten teacher, Raith designed the once-a-month program to be educational and fun for the youth.
"I thought of Carroll County, and what do people think of when they think of Carroll County?" Raith said of selecting the topics, which cover everything from toys to mills to the Civil War. "I did a lot of research and tried to make it very basic for 3- to 6-year-olds."
The subjects tie directly into the county's past, but also mirror general eras of history, such as trains and rail transportation, farming and even rural mail delivery in days gone by. Raith said the toughest challenge this far has been creating a Native American session, which is planned for November.
"The Native Americans were only here a little bit of time, but I think it is important to know they were here," Raith said. She said she's also learning about quarries, and is excited about the craft project on that subject planned for December.
"That should be fun," sad Raith. "They'll have a little quarry to play with."
One of the rare snow events this year kept attendance low for the program's first session in January, and eight youngsters and parents attended the second session on Feb. 18, where children learned about simple games and toys that were common in the 1800s.
The next session is scheduled for March 17. Fifteen youngsters is the ideal number, Raith said, and preregistration is encouraged. The cost is $5. Each session includes story time and a craft for kids to take home. For those attending, the series has been a hit.
"We've had an excellent response to it," said Linda Cunfer, manager of operations for the historical society. "It is a nice time for the younger kids."
Timmi Pierce, HSCC executive director, said she sees a great positive in introducing youngsters to Carroll County's history.
"Youth are the future," Pierce said. "To intrigue youngsters at an early age and to support that ... it helps in their understanding of the past, and gives initiative to stay interested."
The education aspects are important, to be sure, but Raith said watching youngsters enjoy the sessions is also very rewarding.
"It's fun to do. I especially like it when the kids get excited," Raith said. "Each (child) walks away knowing a little bit of something about that topic."
Journey back in time
The "Past Times for Children" series presented by the Historical Society of Carroll County takes place every third Saturday of the month from 10 to 11 a.m., for ages 3 to 6 years, at the Koontz-Yingling Learning Center, Cockey's, 216 E. Main St., Westminster. Call 410-848-6494. Registration is required. Cost is $5 per child. Topics scheduled for the rest of 2012 are:
• March 17: Rural Mail
• April 21: Trains in Carroll County
• May 19: Memorial Day Parades
• June 16: Civil War Comes to Westminster
• July 21: Everyday life in Carroll County in the 1800s
• Aug. 18: Food and Where to Find It in the 1800s
• Sept. 15: Farming-Living with Animals
• Oct. 20: Mills – A Big Part in Carroll County
• Nov. 17: Native Americans in Carroll County
• Dec. 15: Limestone Quarries in Carroll County
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