Friday, March 13, 2009

The Little Red Schoolhouse.

Rebecca, Elijah and I had the wonderful privilege of attending a one room schoolhouse today. We didn't just didn't just observe, but actually became a living history museum for a little over 2 hours. They were totally immersed in the culture of 1886. They had to dress the part, act the part and only bring food and containers that were period correct.

The children all lined up for a group photo before the teacher opened the big doors you see behind them. They were all smiles until....

...the teacher, Ms. Hattie Gale opened the doors and had the children line up single file and prepare to enter the classroom. As you can imagine, one room schoolhouses were run very strictly. The children all took a deep breath and stepped back in time. Ms. Hattie Gale was authentic to a "T". Nobody was allowed to talk. Period. They couldn't even raise their hand to ask a question. The rules were explained and they marched in single file.

This schoolhouse was the first one built in Palm Beach County. It has been restored to it's original condition and is located at Phipps Ocean Park.

The children were each assigned a real student from that time and had to learn a little bit about them before attending class today. They wore name tags with their new name on it and were addressed by that name.

Elijah became John Wilder for the day. They each made a copy book before the field trip to write in. They were given slates, slate pencils and lead pencils to use while they were there.

Students were asked to copy the phrase "Good posture makes good thinkers." 100 times in their copy book. (What wasn't completed was to be "home work")

Like we have all read about in Little House on the Prairie books, students of all ages worked together and groups by age were called up to the front to study their level specifically.

"John" and "Levi" working on penmanship. It had to be done "just so".

The older girls worked on mental arithmetic. Rebecca became Maggie Lewis for the day.

During recess, the children played capture the bacon. The weighted sock was tossed into the center and if your number was called, you tried to beat the person from the opposite team with the same number to get the sock and get back in line. Ms. Gale made it fun, for such a simple game!

She kept picking on "John" and "Walter" and the children thought it was a hoot!

Period correct lunches were to be brought in period correct containers. We opted for beef jerky, apples and oranges. Others brought boiled eggs, cheese and home made bread. No lunch meat, chips, soda cans or juice boxes were seen at this picnic under a sprawling tree!

This little lady and her brother came in at least 20 minutes late. Ms. Gale stayed in character, reprimanded them and told them she would be speaking to their parents about their tardiness. She really gave them a scolding and I wondered how they felt just walking in like that totally unprepared for the "mood and setting" of this field trip. They took it well and were saying a solemn "Yes Ma'am" immediately. I think her brother was the youngest in the group and it was interesting to see how he would hold up. He did just fine!

Here is her little brother (I don't know either of their names) saying, spelling, saying a word and then using it in a sentence.

Elijah's, er, "John's" turn to say, spell, say...

Everyone had to read out of an authentic McGuffey's reader.

Ms. Gale went over some sound (Godly) character traits with them. I don't remember all she said, but it was about living honestly and always telling the truth, etc.

When 12 noon came around, everyone was allowed to step out of character and become themselves again. The smiles returned! Ms. "Gale" (I didn't catch her real name) did a Q&A with the children and posed for pictures with them.

"Good posture, young man!"

Ms. Gale pretending to put Eli in the "dunce chair".

Eli and Daniel pretending to warm their hands on the wood stove.

Rebecca with her lunch basket and HER authentic slate.

Ana and I were the chaperones for this trip and we had to dress period correct as well.

This was one of the most fascinating field trips for the kids this year and in spite of the serious atmosphere, they absolutely loved it! I also love how this went hand in hand with their history co-op they are doing on the Civil War. For those of you who are interested, the Civil War was 1861-1865 and this schoolhouse opened in 1886, about 20 years after the war ended. Did you also know that the Jupiter Lighthouse was lit in 1860? Civil War Confederate sympathizers removed the illuminating mechanism to darken the light for the duration of the war. My children also learned this week that their great-great-great grandfather John Wesley Foster was born in 1845 and fought for the South (the kids are NOT proud of that fact!) in the Civil War. He died in 1892. We have a photo of his tombstone but I'll save that for another post!


Permission to Mother said...

This is fascinating. Sounds like a lot was crammed into 2 hours. You guys all look great!

Sarah said...

This sounds like such an interesting and fun experience. I wish there was something like that near where we live.

Adela Campbell said...

This looks great, you are right, Taylor and Trevor would love it.

Hope your feelinf better!

Jennifer said...

How very cool. I have always loved Little House on the Prairie. Always thought how I was born in the wrong time period! HEHE Glad you all had a good time. Looked like alot of fun!

Misty said...

Very neat! Your poor unsocialized homeschoolers! LOL :-) My girls would love to visit there!

Mark & Laura Fultz said...

This was a most interesting post. I almost felt like I was there. Y'know, if we could turn the clock back and live like that now, we could cut stress into fractions if not eliminate it!!! Okay, okay! I'm dreaming, I know!

Allana Martian said...

I totally agree with you, Laura! Kid's chores consisted of making their beds, cleaning a couple dishes and sweeping the floor. Then it was outside to (horrors!) feed the animals! Jen, I'm with you in that I feel like I was born in the wrong era. That said, those times were very difficult in many other ways!

Aaron and Heather said...

Wow! That looks like sooo much fun! Great pictures, thanks for sharing :-)

Anonymous said...

OK make that 3 of us that feel like they should have lived back when.
Sooooooooo why don't we all find land and make our own back when and live like that. Just a thought. Any takers? love mom

Livin' out loud said...

This awesome! I would love to do this with our kiddos!!

Kara Plank said...

Wow! I loved reading this post and looking at the great pictures. I bet the kids will never forget this! You'll have to get your "Ms. Gale" voice on if you see the kids have bad posture! lol.

Mary Ellen said...

Really enjoyed all the pictures and your commentary on what we were seeing - it really did look very authentic! Did everyone have to provide their own outfits? I was wondering where in the world you would find those outfits/shoes/etc.

I climbed the Jupiter Lighthouse 36 years ago, didn't realize it was that old!

Allana Martian said...


Rebecca and I bought our skirts from a friend who does Civil War reenactments. We bought blouses at Goodwill. Elijah wore his jeans and a plaid shirt also from Goodwill. His coonskin cap was from a reenactment we went to last fall. I have a feeling most mothers made their girl's dresses or skirts and aprons, but the boy's can put an outfit together from stuff they already own. Long pants, plaid or solid button down shirt, suspenders, etc.

It really was a lot of fun. It would be neat if HSCA would check into this for their 5th grade class as something to do each year. (that's about the grade level they want there) Rebecca sort of "snuck" in under the radar since we were a homeschooling group of a more varied age group.

Eileen said...

This was sure neat. I enjoyed this very much. Thank you for sharing.