Soha Khaja as George Washington

It was much easier and more informative than trekking into NYC to see lifeless wax figures at Madame Tussaud’s. Sandshore’s fourth-graders recently presented a living “wax” museum. 

Students in costume and makeup appeared as famous contemporary or historical figures to inform museum visitors. At the touch of a button in front of each display, a motionless young performer sprang to life and delivered a short informational speech. It was an experience reminiscent of watching animatronic Abraham Lincoln at Disneyland. 

While the speeches were brief, there was so much learning that went on behind the scenes. The event was the culmination of nearly two months of reading, research, and writing.

Each fourth-grader read a full-length biography about a famous figure that he or she was interested in then created a timeline of important events in that person’s life. That information was used to create a biographical summary and then further distilled down to a speech of two minutes or less.

The students also applied what they had learned by creating informational boards for their museum displays.

“Children don’t read biographies by nature,” said teacher Lorri Vaccaro. “This was an opportunity to expose students to a different genre of literature plus give them a chance to work on their public-speaking skills. The ease of speaking publicly is a skill that is often overlooked yet is something that captivates the attention of a college or job interviewer and is crucial in so many careers. To become comfortable speaking in public you must begin doing it early in life.”

Many students studied and portrayed famous figures that they felt personally connected to or admired. Amanda Fenton, for example, was inspired to choose Henry Ford because of her affinity for antique cars. Sophia Murphy loves chimps and animals, so she chose famed anthropologist Jane Goodall. And avid soccer player Samantha Albert selected Hope Solo, an American soccer goalie and two-time Olympic gold medalist.

The living museum was held in the school cafeteria for three consecutive days, with each class presenting on a separate day.

Sabrina Costa as Amelia Earhart

Matteo Minichino as Frank Sinatra

Brooke Russo as Ben Franklin

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Budd Lake, NJ 07828
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