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Becoming a Colonial Kid for a Day!

May 28, 2010

Our big day where everyone spend it like a colonial kid is over!  I was grateful that we had a great day – no rain and not humid! It was truly gratifying to see the children taking part in all the activities with enthusiasm and a willingness to try new things and knowing that they will never forget what they did and how they felt today.  It is very empowering to go through the experience rather that just read about it.

From the Beginning

But let me go back to the beginning of the day… The day started with a discussion of the events of the day so everyone was on the same page but the energy level was electric!  Everyone was checking out what each other had worn. The students had been encouraged to wear a colonial outfit to represent a famous person from that period.  We had given them lots of ideas but what they came up with were great! Aidan was John Paul Jones so he wore a hat like you think for Napoleon and a jacket that his parents helped paint the shoulders to add the fancy gold fringe you would see on a naval officer.  Sarah worn a pink dress with a pink mob cap for Sybil Lydington and said, “This is the only time you’ll see me in pink!”  She looked great! Corinne wore her mothers suit jacket and breeches for Marquis de Lafayette. Henry had a beige jacket and a fancy ascot sort of tie for Patrick Henry.  Everyone looked great and they were ready for the wax museum.

We walked through the school very dignified and announced “Here ye, here ye, Come to our Wax Museum!”  They returned to the classroom and took their places.  Each had a display board that they had affixed a sign and a button for people to push for information about their person.  When the students had practiced the information, they included the beeps for pushing the buttons.  We only had an hour for the wax museum and the other classes came through at staggered times so everyone could be heard.  Some of the students had a difficult time staying still, some felt like they were “Melting!” but all did a fabulous job sharing what they knew about the famous person.

Then we celebrated with a lively Virginia Reel. They paired up and took their positions and had fun going through the steps.  Each pair had an opportunity to be the head couple and lead the march and make the bridge for all to go through.  It was interesting to watch one group started to count the beats like I had done when they were learning the steps.  It helped the group move together – so everyone was doing bowing and the steps at the same time.

Then it was time to talk about lunch. Since they made the meal the day before, I expect everyone – except those that are vegetarians, to try it.  They can eat their own lunch if they haven’t had enough to eat with the stew, cornbread and apple pie.

Earlier in the unit we had read that in colonial times children would stand for lunch and they thought that was unfair.  They only person that sat was the father.   I had asked another teacher, Molly, if her husband could come in and be the father figure for our lunch.  He agreed! We told the children since they were colonial children today, they could not talk or sit during lunch.  The uproar, “It’s not fair” and “What?” were heard.  Then we explained that they could talk if they were spoken to be an adult.

Now we explained that there will be a father figure.  For today only, he is everyone’s father.  “Does that  mean we are all brothers and sisters?” came a question with certain incongruity in their voice.  The answer caused many moans! Then our “father figure” walks in!  He looks like a rock star colonial guy!  Imagine a tall man with a bouffant white hair that is pulled back in a pony tail. There are wisps of hair falling down along his face and he has sunglasses on!  He is dressed like a well-to colonial business man and he fits the part perfectly!

During lunch the children are quiet almost apprehensive.  Was father going to ask me a question?  Will I like the stew?  I wish I could sit down.  Some were a little unsure of what to do but most of the children took it in stride. It was the quietest lunch in a long time!

In the afternoon the children did chores:

  • tilled the school garden with yard long sticks for tools
  • wash clothes on rocks (many children said afterwards that this activity made them feel like a colonial child)
  • prepared yarn for weaving by winding it up
  • dyed tshirts using onion skins
  • made tapered candles
  • did some schoolwork

Then it was time for the games to begin:

  • they made bilbo catchers with a stick and buttons
  • played marbles in the sand box
  • played a new version of ring toss called quoits
  • played scotch hopping which we call hopscotch
  • nine pins that became bowling with 10 pins
  • learned to play 9 Men’s Morris

Whew!  What a day!  I appreciated all the extra hands that came and helped with all the activities and those that got dressed up to be part of it.  Everyone helped to clean up and return everything to the classroom, where Venee had made more of the molasses cookies that they liked!

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