Children and their parents left Thomas Elementary School on Wednesday night with bright yellow, green and red leis around their necks. They held hand-made eye masks and "passports" filled with stickers.
"I'm pretty tired," a mom said to her child. "We went all over the world."
Thomas celebrated Multicultural Night Wednesday. Each grade focused on a different country. Previously students studied the country and on this evening shared what they learned with their families.
"It's a fun way to learn about a country," Heidi Robinson, president of the PTA, said as she helped hand out leis and passports.
The first stop for many in the evening was the kindergarten rooms and Christina Beale's "categorical special education program" classroom. Kindergarteners displayed their red, green and white Madagascar flags and paragraphs about the country.
During class, kindergarten teachers, including Sarah Hendricks, had students write about the island.
Nathan Breunig, kindergartener, listed what he remembered learning about Madagascar, "It's an island. There are different trees."
He also said he thought they served ice cream but might have been thinking of the vanilla produced on the island.
In Beale's room, children had to point out Madagascar next to Africa before they could receive a sticker in their passport book.
"We tried to keep it simple," Beale said of her students' studies. "What would you find on this island? ... The basic concepts."
Early in the evening Northern Arizona University's HAPA Hawaiian Club took children and their families on a tour of the Pacific Islands with dances from Hawaii, Tonga and Tahiti.
First-graders studied Mexico.
"We showed them where Mexico was," Janet Freeman, first-grade teacher, said. "We looked at Mayan monuments, the flag, art, blankets."
For the multicultural night, students were hearing Spanish words as they played the ever-popular game of Bingo.
"They love learning about different countries," Freeman said.
Second-graders spent their time studying China.
"China has a lot of interesting history," Kim Quisido, second-grade teacher, said. "It's a very different culture compared to our own. Also different land forms, different utensils ... Students knew very little about it -- they were fascinated."
The second-grade classes practiced Chinese writing. They also tried Chinese food.
Ava Wilson, second-grader, sat patiently trying to figure out the Chinese tangram puzzles.
"I liked learning about the Great Wall," Ava said.
Quisido explained with computers and online videos, classes can "virtually" visit anywhere in the world. Her class visited the Forbidden Temple and the Great Wall of China.
Third-graders focused on the culture and wildlife of Australia. One popular project during the evening was completing an origami koala with teacher John Larson.
Fourth-graders studied Greece and finished the very popular Greek theater face masks during the evening. The fifth-graders studied 18th century Great Britain.
"The three teachers of fifth grade wanted to see how to match it with our curriculum," Annie Crego, fifth-grade teacher, said.
The students were given 12 to 15 topics to choose from. They conducted research using iPads and other resource materials. They presented their projects, mostly on posterboards, during the multicultural night.
"One student looked at 'rich' food and 'poor' food. We had a great time," Crego said. "It's a nice thing to do after AIMS."
Cecile LeBlanc can be reached at 556-2261 or firstname.lastname@example.org.