Teaching Artist Demonstrates TN History through Hands-On Toymaking Presentations

By Meredith Callis –

After a 33 year career in Tennessee public schools, Roy Henson is using his platform as a teaching artist to expose students to the history of his home state. Mr. Henson’s passion for the creativity of past generations is brought into public school classrooms and demonstrated through hands-on presentations of the historical and cultural applications of handmade, primitive toys.

While a majority of the toys offered to young people today involve some degree of technology, students attending Mr. Henson’s presentations have the chance to explore what type of games children were using in the recent and ancient past. As a toymaker himself, Mr. Henson explains the steps of the toy making process, guiding students in making their own primitive wooden toys and encouraging them to then take home to share with their families.

His passion for teaching history has also allowed him to effectively incorporate themes of preservation and geographical content into his lessons. Teachers have remarked on Mr. Henson’s ability to present these unique lessons in a way that is captivating and memorable. In this unique teaching artist visit, students are given a chance to learn about Tennessee’s rich heritage and are invited to imagine what life may have been like for the young people of Tennessee during primitive times.