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Earl students learn about their neighbors on Exploration Days
Students in Judy DeMeritt’s first grade class roll masa to make tortillas as part of the day’s lesson. - photo by ANDREA GOODWIN / The Journal
Students at Dennis Earl Elementary School got a taste of Mexican culture on Friday when they participated in Exploration Day. The kindergarten through sixth grade classes watched Aztec dancers and did classroom activities such as making tortillas, ponchos, and paper flowers.
Students at Earl Elementary traditionally do Exploration Day activities for the first three Fridays in June, said Principal Tamie Traux. The program gives teachers and students the opportunity to further explore areas of the curriculum that they have covered throughout the year with interactive projects and presentations. This year the focus of the program is to  introduce students to cultures that are represented on their campus, but that all students might not be familiar with.
“I find it so exciting to help children learn about the diversity right here on our own campus,” Traux said.
This week’s studied culture was Mexico. Students watched a local Aztec dance group perform traditional dances. The dancers followed the rhythm of a drum and wore shells on their ankles that made noise as they moved. Children were given the chance to ask questions about aspects of traditional Aztec dancing after the performance. They were interested in the feathered costumes that the dancers wore, and their maraca-type instrument made out of a real turtle shell.
Students in Judy DeMeritt’s first grade class followed the dancing presentation with tortilla making. Students learned that tortillas are made of a type of flower made from corn, which is mixed with liquid ingredients to make a dough called masa. They were able to touch and taste the masa before they pressed it into tortillas. Students described the masa as Play-Doh that smelled good. The first graders then fried and ate their own tortillas.  
Next Friday students will be learning about the Assyrian culture. There is a dance group of over 20 people scheduled to perform. Students will also be making traditional Assyrian food and crafts.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003