Saturday, September 29, 2012

Our Annual Mesilla Plaza Field Trip

If you teach in Las Cruces, hopefully you're aware of a fantastic historical opportunity right in our own backyard. I'm talking about Mesilla. Mesilla is a window into the past.
Its plaza quite literally takes you back into the 1800s, being more or less frozen in time. If you're like me, and you work close by, you can take free walking field trips over to the plaza area. There are many opportunities available there, including the San Albino Basilica, J. Paul Taylor Museum, and the Fountain Theater, not to mention opportunities like touring La Posta de Mesilla and the Double Eagle Restaurant. Each of these locations offers its own historical opportunities.

Each year, I take my grade level on a short walk from our school to the plaza. We are met on the plaza by Mr. Taylor and the people from the monument that will exist in his house eventually. Our students head off in groups to tour San Albino Basilica, and discuss its history (we strictly discuss the history of the building and the surrounding area, no mention of religion is made during this discussion). Students enter the house of Mr. Taylor, and are taken back through the many rooms of this vast home, which will be a state monument in due time. We also tour the Fountain Theater, the oldest movie theater in the state of New Mexico. Finally, we eat lunch at La Posta, discuss the history of its building, and complete a scavenger hunt on the plaza.

This day is one the kids remember, and one we prepare well for. In 5th grade, we study United States history, so the discussion of the Civil War era height of Mesilla, and the long and storied history of the buildings and happenings in this area fit right in with what we teach.

So this year we will make our way over there in late October. The weather is usually great that time of year.

I realize that this post and the attached document will mean little to 99% of the teachers who read it, but I am putting it on here regardless, even if it ends up being for my own future reference.

What I'm including here is a two page reading about the history of Mesilla, a pdf document you can access HERE, and a 4 page scavenger hunt of Mesilla Plaza, which you can access in pdf format HERE.

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