Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be born in another time in American history? Each school year, the fifth grade has this opportunity. At the beginning of the second trimester, fifth graders journey back in time to Colonial America as part of their yearlong study of American history. Each student reads, researches, and writes about one of the original 13 colonies, a trade, and the life of the period. Students may select to be an apothecary, blacksmith, miller, indigo planter, lighthouse keeper, milliner, wigmaker, silversmith, schoolteacher, innkeeper, printer, limner, tanner, homemaker, architect, peddler, glassmaker, weaver, potter, or paper maker.
Once students know what they will be researching, they create a colonial journal to record their work from the perspective of a colonial tradesperson. Students make their journals appear as if it was created during the colonial era. The old-world appearance of the journal is not the most important part of the project, but it is a lot of fun. Many students create a colonial name for the purpose of their research. After several weeks of research and writing, students are prepared to engage in hands-on projects during our annual Colonial Day.
On Colonial Day the fifth grade teachers and many of the students come dressed in colonial attire. Students learn how to cross-stitch with Mrs. Button, engage in tin-smithing with Mr. McCandless, and pose for their silhouette with Mr. Obermark. In addition, the young colonists sample johnnycakes made from a traditional recipe of the period. This experience enhances the fifth graders appreciation of this time in our nation’s history and helps them as they continue their independent research.
Colonial Day would not be possible without our many amazing parent volunteers. Thank you!
Fifth grade students wrap up the unit by completing their journal writing and giving a two-minute presentation about their colonial trade using props to discuss how their job contributed to colonial times.
Students, past and present, fondly remember their Colonial Day experience as one of their favorite Lower School traditions.