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!