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How Has the Role of Children Changed?

The role of children has changed dramatically over time. Children in the twenty-first century are treated as an important, if not central, part of the family unit. That was not always the case!

Circumstance and environment had a lot to do with how children grew up. In the Middle Ages up to one-quarter of infants died before the age of one, mostly due to accidents and diseases. The poorer the family, the less likely medical attention was available. On the other hand, healthy infants were seen as a special gift from God; they were usually named after saints or biblical characters. Babies were often swaddled, which involved strips of linen wrapped around their arms and legs. Parents did this so the limbs would grow straight. The practice had the added benefit of keeping the child out of trouble. Once the child was able to sit up independently, the wrappings would be removed. The mother remained the primary caretaker who fed the baby. If the mother should die, a nurse would be found to feed the baby. Richer families could employ a nurse to provide affection, bathe, sing lullabies, console, and take care of the baby when sick. Some nurses even chewed the meat for the baby before feeding, much like a mother bird. The wealthiest families kept a nurse through early childhood because these women spent much of their time at society events like banquets and court affairs.

A glance at art and literature of the period reveals few references to children. It indicates the prevalent attitude toward children. In general, childhood was simply a period of immaturity when a person was not productive enough to do much useful work. When, and if, a child reached adolescence, he might become an asset. The poorer the family, the more work the children performed. Chores might include feeding the livestock and animals, washing dishes, and caring for younger siblings. There was little time for play. Toys were handmade dolls, blocks or tops. Older children told myths and stories learned from their elders; some of these might include heroes like Robin Hood. The younger children played dress up, perhaps becoming princesses or lord of the castle.

Little formal education was available. Most parents taught their children by word of mouth. Those who had money brought their children to clergy members who could teach the child to read and write in Latin and their native language. Until the end of the eleventh century, clergy were the educators. Later on as the universities sprang up, wealthier male children might have a lay tutor to teach law or the administrative professions. Boys who were interested in learning a trade would be apprenticed with a trade master like a mason or a blacksmith in the profession. Few women were formally educated.

Life for children remained pretty much the same until the twentieth century when technological and medical advances freed the adults from many of the limitations imposed on the family. As societies began to protect the rights of individuals, children began to be seen as important to the future of the family and society and assumed a dignity in their own right.

Bringing History Alive for Students!

Babs4BackCover (1)Some people  just have a gift for teaching and sharing new information in unique ways. This week, I want to introduce my readers the author of the Quest Teaching weekly book reviews, Ms. Barbara Ann Mojica.  Barbara definitely has that gift! She is the author of the award-winning Little Miss History Series and I feel so fortunate to feature her wonderful contributions on the Quest Teaching site each week. As you read her bio, I know you’ll be as impressed as I am with her ability to bring history alive!

Barbara’s Bio:  I have always been passionate about history, and during my lifetime have been fortunate to have the opportunity to visit thirty countries and more than half of the states in the USA. Now a retired teacher and school administrator I can go back to my first love, history. I began doing so in 2011 by writing biweekly historical articles for a local news magazine, The Columbia Insider.

I saw an opportunity to make history come alive for children when I married a talented artist and author. He designed the Little Miss HISTORY character, featured in my books, based on my younger self. I then combined my passion for history and extensive travel experience to write picture books that will make learning history fun for children, and as it’s turned out, fun for adults too!

I love watching the faces of children when they first open my books. The illustrations appeal to children as young as age two. The older children immerse themselves in the text, as well as the illustrations, as they learn more about history while having fun traveling with Little Miss HISTORY. Writing the Little Miss HISTORY series has also allowed me to connect to other writers, parents, and teachers via my blog and online media sites like Quest Teaching.

At Quest Teaching, we are proud to  feature Barbara’s thoughtful, honest, and insightful book reviews on Thursdays.  Watch for them so you won’t miss the opportunity to share some great new reads with your class!  At the end of each month, Barbara also provides commentary as to the historical development of present-day customs, events, and practices.  These articles provide interesting input for student discussion and will be of great benefit in any social studies classroom! Her snippets of history are sure to keep your students engaged and spark their interest in learning history!

To check out her prior posts click on the reading coin for book reviews and the social studies coin for the history features. Enjoy!

You will find more of Barbara’s work on her blog  http://www.littlemisshistory.com/

The Poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in the Civil War Era

candle star kindle insertLesson Title: The Poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in the Civil War Era
Written by: Michelle Isenhoff
Length: 45-60 min.
Grade Level: 5-8
*This lesson plan, including the entire text of both poems, is available as a free pdf.

Lesson Overview:
Students will relate the experiences expressed within Longfellow’s poems to the cultural context of the Civil War era portrayed within the children’s historical novel, The Candle Star.

Introduction
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was America’s most popular poet of the nineteen century. He began his literary career in 1839 and wrote until his death in 1882, a span of years that included the American Civil War. Poetry was the primary storytelling media of the day—long before fiction and cinema overtook it. It was an age that still embraced Puritan thought and morality, which his work epitomized. His poems came across as unaffected and sincere, leading to a public image of a kindly, sympathizing, encouraging friend. His poems included his honest response to tragedy—with which so many could easily identify during the war—and simple everyday pleasures—to which a war torn nation longed to return. His popularity would decline sharply as America headed into the postmodernism and world wars of the early twenty-first century, but during Longfellow’s own lifetime he enjoyed tremendous success.

longfellow

Longfellow’s work was melodic and easy to read. He used standard forms, regular meter, and rhymed verses. They were easy to memorize in school or recite at home, which made them popular as family entertainment. Keep in mind, there was no television, no radio, not even electric lighting. Evenings were dark, quiet, and spent together as a family.

“Autumn” and “The Bridge” were both published in the volume entitled The Belfry of Bruges and Other Poems (1845). “Autumn” is a metaphor for the changes that take place in life. “The Bridge recalls the pain of personal tragedy.

Objectives:
1. Students will read, analyze, and understand two poems written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
2. Students will learn the terms simile and metaphor.
3. Students will identify mood created by word pictures within poetry.
4. Students read and recognize literature as a record of human experience and identify its historical significance.
5. Students will respond to the poems and related them to their own life experience.

Preparation/Materials:
You will need a copy of Longfellow’s poems “Autumn” and “The Bridge”. Some background knowledge of Longfellow’s life and times is beneficial. Read his full biography here.

Activity:
1. Begin by asking students what they know about the American Civil War based on their reading of The Candle Star and other prior knowledge. List their responses on the board. Then ask them what it might have been like to live in such a time period. Discuss such things as the lack of modern conveniences such as electricity, the lack of modern entertainment, and the hardships of war.

2. Introduce the two poems “Autumn” and “The Bridge.” Explain that both are examples of poetry written by the very popular American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Explain that both were written in the two decades leading up to the Civil War but that Longfellow’s works remained popular long after the war. Ask the class to consider what they know about life during the Civil War era and think about what might have made Longfellow’s work so well liked during this time period.

3. Read “Autumn” aloud to the class. (Younger students: You may want to shorten it by choosing just one stanza.)

4. Identify and define any vocabulary words then discuss the meaning of the poem. (Older students: You may wish to also discuss how the poem’s meaning can be extended to represent the changes in life, not just the weather.)

5. Introduce the idea of word pictures and explain the terms simile and metaphor. Identify some similes and metaphors within the poem and discuss how they create a mood. What mood does the poem set?

6. Ask the students how this poem might be received by people experiencing the Civil War.

7. Repeat the exercises 4, 5, and 6 with “The Bridge.”

Assessment/Culminating Activity:
Ask the students to choose their favorite of the two poems. Assign a written response that explains why they chose that particular poem. What did they like or not like about it? What kind of emotion does it provoke? Then ask students to relate it to their own life experience. How are they able to identify with the poem? What has happened in their own lives that provokes their response?