A.D Stowell Elementary School hosted its second Multicultural Day on Tuesday, May 15, transforming several classrooms and a section of the playground into eight different nations: Germany, Thailand, Ukraine, Morocco, Madagascar, Brazil, Haiti and Panama.

Depending upon which class students visited, they might get to try Haitian cornbread, make Ukrainian Easter eggs or play a popular Moroccan game called kick and catch.

A.D Stowell Elementary School hosted its second Multicultural Day on Tuesday, May 15, transforming several classrooms and a section of the playground into eight different nations: Germany, Thailand, Ukraine, Morocco, Madagascar, Brazil, Haiti and Panama. Principal Kyle Gibbs said that students learned about eight different nations last year, and Music Teacher Katie Schisler said the project offered a great way for teachers to work together — and learn together — to open up students’ world views during a part of the school year when learning often winds down.

Gibbs said all of the students gathered for an assembly to see clips with people from each featured nation. From there, they visited classrooms for about 20 minutes each on a mission to discover other cultures. All of the teachers planned the day of interactive activities in teams different from their usual groupings, which she said brought them “out of their comfort zones” as they planned a diverse mix of crafts, foods, songs and activities for the day, Schisler said.

The successful Multicultural Day foreshadows a school-wide integration program coming for the 2018-2019 school year, Schisler said, which will include a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) instructor. The first part of each school day will feature traditional classroom learning, while the afternoon will focus on STEAM knowledge and special activities that will blend various subjects and encourage students to seek answers themselves. She said a recent visit to Lee Expressive Arts School in Columbia helped provide the inspiration for the forthcoming integration program.

Inside Katie Bowman’s fifth grade classroom, first and fourth graders listened to her friends from Hannibal-LaGrange University and Brazil natives, Nicole Paisani and Maria Monteiro, as they explained a video of a special dance that was akin to an orchestrated fight. The special guests pointed out how no one hurts one another during the fast-paced routine. Next, the students gathered in a circle as they learned how to samba dance. Monteiro and Paisani agreed that their visit was rewarding for them and the students alike.

“It’s great to show them a little bit — and most of these kids won’t have the opportunity to go — so we have the opportunity to bring them a little bit about our country and our culture, and they can see the differences. It’s great,” Paisani said. Schisler agreed that this was a special opportunity.

“It’s especially exciting when we can have people from those countries — we can’t always do that, but when we can, it really makes a huge difference to the kids,” she said.

Students listened intently to an animated theater performance of “Hansel and Gretel” as they learned about Germany in the computer lab. In Kylie Adams’ first grade classroom, students decorated Ukranian Easter eggs with intricate designs as they learned about the springtime custom. Students sampled sweet Haitian cornbread, and they recalled several unique facts about the country.

“Most of their houses are small,” one student chimed in.

“A lot of the houses are in the mountains,” another students said.

A classmate noted there are 10 million people living in Haiti. First grade teacher LeeAnn Ewert pointed out that was more people than there were living in Missouri — she is preparing for her fifth trip to visit the nation this summer.

Fourth graders Carly Golian and Kylor Sanders said they enjoyed exploring the cultures in Madagascar, Ukraine, Germany and Brazil so far. Kylor said it was a unique experience to learn about Brazil from their special guests.

“I liked how they showed how to dance, and all the different words, and how they went on Google Maps and showed where the other guests lived,” Kylor said. Carly agreed, noting how much she appreciated that their guests were from Brazil.

She said a French foreign exchange student visited last year. When Carly learned about Morocco and the traditional game of kick and catch, she said she was surprised about the differences between that game and American games. She noticed how Moroccan children use what is available to them when they make a ball for a game of kick and catch.

“I was actually kind of surprised with Morocco, because they have to use rags and stuff to make balls — they have to use their memory,” she said.

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com