For the January achievement party, I suggested having another travel party theme as the students really had enjoyed that one last year, only this time with different destinations. We decided to do something even better -- where they would land in different countries and time periods and take part in different events which happened in history.
Seventh grade teacher Mr. Caleb was the crazy scientist guy who had made a time travel machine, the Time-O-Matic, complete with strobe lights and a fog machine. (The rental place was cheap and gave us a school discount.) He got sound effects as well. We removed all the desks (with a lot of help from our former students who are now in high school) and set up chairs. They were instructed to bring a sack with work gloves, six foot of rope or chain, a broom, and a metal spoon inside it. They know better than to ask why. They seem to enjoy the surprises.
The Time-O-Matic ran out of oil and landed in Australia in 1788. When the students disembarked, they found themselves in a snowy field owned by a husband and wife who assumed that they were the occupants of a prison ship sent to Australia by Great Britain. They were told to put their ropes or chains on their arms and to go out and pick all the potatoes and carrots out of the field and to put them in their sacks. They obeyed. Once they emptied their sacks (no thievery permitted around here), they were served fruit kabobs and punch from nearby Oceania. They were also given a barrel full of coconut oil for their labor, and when the ranch owners were distracted, they took the opportunity to dash back to their time travel machine.
Safely back inside the Time-O-Matic, Mr. Caleb filled up the tank with the coconut oil and they were off again. This time they landed in China in 1322.
I met them at the exit doors, told them that all local villagers must help build their portion of the Great Wall, and then put them into teams. I had gained permission to go to the local concrete block company and to take as many of their chipped and broken bricks as I wanted. After a snow storm the day before, Jeff convinced me that even if I did want to go and load up concrete bricks in the snow, that I would have to get several hundred of them for the students just to build a four-foot high wall, or something like that. I acquiesced. Instead we did a quick relay and I measured who had the tallest rock stack.
They were then led inside our enclosed "Stonehenge" and greeted by the teachers and helpers bowing to them and reciting in unison, "Welcome most honorable wall builders." After they were seated, they were served authentic egg drop soup and hot tea in as many authentic Chinese soup bowls and tea cups we could find. Eggrolls followed. Yum!
It was at this point that one of the gentleman remarked, "Hey, my tea cup looks pretty American." Evidently he wasn't listening during the speech I had given them before the party began about having a good attitude and playing along with whatever we had worked so hard to present to them. I reminded him of that. Although we have a lot of fun, we do expect the students to always be respectful and to have good attitudes.
When they had finished their soup, tea, and eggrolls, Jeff appeared in costume to entertain them. He made them recite a few phrases like "Choppy," "Wasabi,"and "Choppy-Wasabi!" I know, but they had fun. Then he chopped up a few carrots and potatoes leftover from Australia with a giant knife, bowed graciously and left. The time travelers had again brought their barrel and asked for oil. After filling it with sesame oil, flaming arrows began descending upon us from above. I screamed that the Manchurians were attacking. They grabbed their barrel and ran through another secret exit door back to the Time-O-Matic.