First, we as teachers did a bit of research. Bobbie Kalman has written some AMAZING books about life of yesteryear. We found A One-Room School and Schoolyard Games to be especially helpful. Another book that has helpful information is One-Room School by Raymond Bial.
We prep the students the day before for what to expect and how they need to start their day. We will also encourage students to dress the part. It is getting cold now in Kansas, but the students can still have fun with wearing period costumes. The students will line up outside our classroom door, youngest to oldest with a boy line and a girl line. The day before, we will separate their desks so that there is a boy side of the room and a girl side of the room. There will be blank sheets of paper waiting for the students on their desks. In the 1800s, lined paper was expensive, so the students that had paper had to draw their own lines on it! The students will write their alphabet and digits 0-12 on their paper.
Each teacher will call role, with the students responding with a "Yes, Ma'am". I read that if a student was not present at role call, they had to wait outside until recess to be let it! We aren't going to be that mean. On another of their pieces of paper, the students are going to start a Venn Diagram of how our normal school day differs from our Old Fashioned School Day. They will continue to add to this throughout the day.
Because of the expense of books, many schools did not have a full set for all students. Instead, the students learned to memorize their lessons. That is how they "learned". I found a poem in One-Room School by Raymond Bial. We are going to challenge our students to memorize it. They may write it down on their (now lined) paper and work in partners to memorize the poem.
For a Spelling/Word Work activity, the students are going to be given a topic and are to write as many things down that fit that topic as possible. The topics we are going to use are: animals, foods, type of candy, girls' names, boys' names. Give the students a set amount of time to make their lists, then pencils down. Have one student start reading their list, if anyone else has the same thing(s) on their list, that item must be crossed off both persons' lists. Whoever has the longest list at the end, wins! Another Spelling game is to have a "Spelldown" which is like a Spelling Bee, but in teams. Whoever is the last speller standing, wins the game.
For recess, the students can play old schoolyear games. These include: yarn ball (historically made from old sweaters), leap frog, jump rope, egg & spoon races, hop scotch, tag, and push the potato (can only use their noses to race another student pushing a potato). After recess, we will make butter. To do this, we will put heavy whipping cream into a glass jar and shake it. All the students will have a turn to shake the jar and help make the butter. We will be able to see it turn from the cream to butter as we shake. Then, we'll have it as a snack!
The most fun part of the day, for the teachers (haha), will be discussing how hard it was to be a teacher and a student in the 1800s. We will talk about the rules for teachers (first of all, I'm married, so I would not be allowed to be a teacher anymore!) and the punishment for students. Some of the students will want to practice these punishments, I'm sure. So we will have some materials ready. Other punishments we will only discuss (parent emails about swatting children are not a good thing ;)
We will eat our sack lunches in the classroom/on our deck. We have asked our cafeteria to save their large vegetable cans for us over the last couple of months. We drilled holes in them and attached twine/yarn to make handles. They were sent home with students the night before for them to bring their lunches to school.
An Orange For Frankie by Patrica Palacco. This is a story about a boy who lost his Christmas orange and how generous his family was to him.
Here are our pictures from today. One traditional, not smiling picture and one happier picture.
Here are some more links to help with Old Fashioned School Days:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HSBR4UIk64&safety_mode=true&persist_safety_mode=1&safe=active (1st grade teacher's school long ago in her class)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNoWlnmWfSA&safety_mode=true&persist_safety_mode=1&safe=active (field trip)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpWIS306hLA&safety_mode=true&persist_safety_mode=1&safe=active (field trip)