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American Girl™ Teas Return to Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center
Written by Candace Perry, Correspondent

             Educator Alyssa McQuirns posed a question during the recent American Girl™ Tea at the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center, and several small hands shot in the air, eager to answer.

            Now that the school year has resumed McQuirns has scheduled some fun and educational Teas for children ages five to ten, and "maybe a little older," as McQuirns says, at the Heritage Center located  at 105 Seminary Street - adjacent to the Perkiomen School campus - in Pennsburg. The Teas are targeted at girls, but boys can certainly attend and have in the past. McQuirns noted that the activities are mostly sitting, though she does intend to have on-your-feet fun at the beginning of each Tea.

            McQuirns' upcoming schedule will include Tea on Tuesday, October 17, with a focus on the character Caroline Porter and the War of 1812; and on Tuesday, November 14, with the character Addy Walker and the Underground Railroad and the Civil War. Each tea is held from 3:45 to 4:45pm.

            The Teas were launched by former Heritage Center Educator Maggie Buckwalter and were among some of the most successful ongoing children's programs. All of them are based around the characters from different American historical periods and cultures that appear in the hugely popular American Girl™ historical fiction series.

            "I want the children to leave with a better understanding of the era," said McQuirns, "but also about the female historical figure we will discuss at the end."

            McQuirns is structuring each Tea similarly, so the children will know what to expect.  First will be the getting-to-know-you exercise. At the most recent tea held on September 19, McQuirns had the children toss a plastic ball back and forth that was covered with questions that allowed the girls to learn a little about each other.

            Following the ball toss, the children sat at tables and learned about the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era in the turn-of-the-twentieth-century United States, using the American Girl™ character Samantha Parkington and her friends and family as a focal point.

            McQuirns will be using two activities during her presentation to interpret the material for the children. This month's included coming up with a "Million Dollar Idea" for a toy that harkened back to the great Gilded Age inventions such as the automobile. The second activity consisted of an activity that will be a common thread throughout the Teas - a group of files that will be made and decorated about the characters and their historical periods by each attendee at each Tea. At the end of this school year's Teas, each attendee will have a whole set to look back on what they've learned.

            McQuirns acknowledged that she hopes to fill a void in current public education with the teas. "From working in schools in the past, I have realized that the main focus is becoming STEM and not so much the social sciences. Older children that I have worked with sometimes don't know some of the basic history. I think the American Girl™ Tea is especially important, because it connects to something the children know about and play with," she said.

            Heritage Center Executive Director David Luz agreed. He noted that the "American Girl™ Teas allow girls in the community to gain an appreciation for broader American history and how our local heritage - and hopefully, their own family's journeys - relate to it.  The girls also interact socially with one another and the adult leaders while interacting with the historic time period presented that day."

            A Tea, of course, would not be complete without tea! Refreshments will be at the ready for the attendees and their grown-ups.

            For more information about the Teas visit and click on the registration form, or contact Alyssa McQuirns at or 215/679-3103. The Teas are free but donations are gladly accepted. 





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