Sunday, March 29, 2009

An 1896 School Day

A few weeks ago we went on a field trip that will easily make our Top 10 Favorites List. We visited a 19th century one-room schoolhouse where the kids experienced an authentic day of school straight from the year 1896. It was actually only a half day. A full day of school back then lasted eight hours!

This trip was geared toward the six to twelve year olds in our group, but you'll notice that the schoolmaster was kind enough to let our littlest ones participate in a few things.

Some highlights from our trip back in time:

The schoolmaster greets the children and goes over the school rules: 1. No talking unless called on. 2. Raise your hand and wait to be called on. 3. Stand on the right side of your desk when called on. 4. When addressing the teacher, end every sentence or question with "Sir". Once inside the schoolhouse, I was amazed at how quickly these homeschooled kids caught onto raising their hands and standing up to address their teacher. :)

The children must bow when they say their morning greeting to the schoolmaster.

The paddle was not an uncommon means of discipline in a 19th century schoolhouse.

The little ones were offered slates and slate pencils to keep them entertained, as they sat with us in the "cloakroom" at the back of the room to observe. Most of them hung in their for an hour or so before we took them outside to play.

Superman had to sit in the front row on the boys' side of the room, as he was the youngest boy. The older children sat towards the back.


At recess the children were introduced to games of the time period. Here Superman is trying his hand at Ten Pins.

The littles were invited to participate too. Giggly Girl and Sweet Pea are trying out a ball and cup game. This was hard even for the grownups!

Rolling the hoop is another hard one, but Giggly Girl persisted until she got the hang of it quite well!

The schoolmaster shows how to make the wooden blocks fold and flip in this game of Jacob's Ladder.

Shortly after recess school was dismissed for the day, but before dismissal, the boys and girls had to bow and say their afternoon farewells to their teacher. Then they filed out of the schoolhouse, and we all sat down to a picnic lunch. After sitting still for the better part of three hours, the kids ate fast so that they could run and play!

I have to give a lot of credit to the schoolmaster. He really made the day a success. He played the role of a firm 19th century teacher well, but he did it with kindness and gentleness. He was always eager to offer encouragement and answer questions that the students and parents asked.

During the week prior to our trip, we did the Five in a Row unit for the book Three Names by Patricia Maclachlan. It's the story of a boy growing up on the prairie in the nineteenth century. Three Names is the name of his faithful dog, who goes to school with him each day in a one-room schoolhouse. The author goes into fairly detailed descriptions of what it was like in the little school, so it was the perfect book to get us in the mindset for our trip back to 1896.

I'm interested to hear about any living history field trips that you and your children have taken. After seeing how much mine enjoyed this one, I'll be on the lookout for more.


  1. What a neat experience. Thanks for sharing it. I'll be back later with my 7 yr old. He will like to see this.

  2. How fun! When I was doing my student teaching we went to a pioneer school. The kids had to dress up and everything! : )

  3. That's ONE awesome field trip!!!

    Thanks for sharing :)

  4. This looks like a lot of fun! I LOVE living history field trips! We go on them as often as possible. :-) We went on a great one this past week-end at a Civil War battleground. I hope to post pics soon. (Can't figure out how to download them.)

    I loved seeing your pictures and reading about your fun. Your children are adorable!



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