We recently had a Colonial Day in our classroom. We did a TON of (ok, 6) fun activities so the kids could get a better idea of what life was like back in Colonial times. I want to share what we did but most of my pictures have my students in them and I'm not comfortable putting them up here... So I'll explain what we did instead and you can take a list of a few examples of their work along the way.
Making Johnny Cakes and Butter
Johnny Cakes were a small pancake like patty made from cornmeal and which hardens when cooled making it ideal for taking with you during the day. We measured, we cooked them on the skillet. I freaked out because I was sure the smoke (which my TA and the art teacher said did not exist...) would set off the fire alarm. There was no smoke- steam happens when you make pancakes. I was just paranoid. There was no alarm. The kids loved their treat. I'll never make them again. WAY too stressful!!!!
We also shook the heck out of some heavy cream until we made butter. I would love to have an actual churn because "plastic container butter" is hardly colonial... but the kids were AMAZED that you could make butter from cream. And that was the point. Success.
The kids learned about what a monogram was and how it was used to label personal and family belongings. They also learned about stitchery and did a bit of sewing which was a brand new skill to almost all of them. This was really frustrating at first but as they got going the kids were thrilled with what they were creating!
A team member has a whole bin of colonial games and she was kind enough to allow me to borrow them for the day. The kids got to play a number of authentic colonial games like a small wooden bowling set, tops, ball in a cup, a ring toss game, jacks, and pick up sticks. They were excited to find that some of the games played back then were similar to games some kids play today.
This was awesome. Kids took a block of wood covered in a folded cloth and set that on the table. They then put a piece of tin with a paper design on top, taping the design down. Using a (very small) hammer and a small nail, they then tapped their design into the tin. At this station we also read about the job of a tinsmith.
The idea that there were no cameras long ago was very well understood by my students (yay!) We talked about the different ways you could "capture a person" without a camera and introduced them to one option- the silhouette! The kids had their silhouettes traced onto black construction paper and they then cut those out and mounted them on white paper.
Hornbooks and Quills
We made hornbooks out of construction paper and a cut down transparency and talked about how difficult it would be to learn in a classroom with kids from all different grade levels all in one room. They could related because we have 3-5 in our room but couldn't imagine having even more students and even more grade levels in one room. The station was wrapped up when we dipped feathers into ink and tried our hands at writing with a quill!
It turned out to be a really great day and the kids learned a lot about life in colonial times. We ended the day with a how-to writing activity. They picked one activity they enjoyed during the day and wrote instructions for that activity as if they were writing to someone who new nothing about colonial time.
What type of theme days do you do in your classroom/school?