Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Remember When . . . The Schoolhouse Had One Room?

On Monday, I took my kids on a field trip to the local one-room schoolhouse. (And didn't realize until evening that I'd forgotten to blog my Word of the Week before I left--oops!)

I hadn't even realized we had a local one-room schoolhouse, but there we go. ;-) It's now run by the Allegany County Historical Society, and they do regular tours and programs there. Just looking around was so much fun. Built in 1901, this schoolhouse at first served only three families--and before it was built, school moved around to accommodate where the children were clustered. This, it seems, was the first permanent structure.
Our guide for the day was Ms. Amber, staff member
at the Historical Society. She did a fabulous job!

Based on letters from the schoolmarm that the Society also has, Cumberland's school was under the instruction of a young woman from Frostburg's teaching college (Frostburg is just a few miles up the mountain). Though accustomed to the strict propriety of city life, the schoolmarm soon discovered that we have a more laid-back way of life in Cumberland. She reported in her letter that no one cared if her hair wasn't in so neat a bun...for that matter, no one cared if her hair were in a bun at all.

One of the Historical Society ladies walked us through what a day would look like, beginning with the students lining up upon her ringing of the bell. Girls would be in one line, youngest to oldest, and boys in another. (In our group, my little Rowyn was the only boy, LOL.) Two girls would go to the neighbor's well to fetch a bucket of water, and one of the boys would be responsible for bringing the firewood from home--and if he failed to bring enough, his punishment was to sit in the seat farthest from the stove!

Upon entering, we could look in and see the two different cloak rooms--one for girls, one for boys--were bonnets and coats and overshoes and lunch pails would have been left. From there, the students took their seats.

The kids got to look at the original primers the children would have used; on the board were actual math problems from the day. Our guide pointed out that they all related math to things like farming and land, as this would be what the children needed to learn it for. Some of the wording was odd for our modern mathematicians, LOL, but the kids had great fun doing their sums on slates.

And even more fun when it came time for the penmanship lesson, and they were all given quills, ink, and paper. I do believe I had the only kindergartener who already knew how to use one, LOL.

The indoor portion of the day was wrapped up with one of the fun activities the schoolmarm would have reserved for Fridays. First, she said, the teacher would have read to them--one week from a book the girls would favor, the next from one for the boys. Then they would do something active, like a spelling bee. Xoe didn't win, but she did manage to get right a word that had knocked out four students before her, and for that, she earned a reward of merit. Paper was far more valuable back then, so this, our guide said, would have been special indeed. (This was actually a copy of an original one from this schoolhouse!)

We then went outside for lunch and recess. Lunch would have, of course, been brought in a pail.

Our students on Monday received a roll, apple pieces, some jerky, and water. Then it was on to the fun and games. Hoops, anyone?

Or perhaps you prefer graces--in this game, you put the small hoop on the end of your stick and toss it to your partners, who tries to catch it on the end of her stick. They also played tug-of-war, which was a big hit, and did a sack race.

Overall, we all had a blast. I, of course, love learning about this history. And the kids were so enamored with it that on the way home they decided that we need to build a one-room schoolhouse in our yard, complete with chalk boards, slates, and quills. Interestingly, their father didn't say no, exactly... ;-)


  1. What a great experience for kids!

    My child's Christian school has a one room schoolhouse from when it first opened. It's a log cabin and is now used as the financial building.

    1. How neat! And I love that they're using it for something. =)

  2. Love this, Roseanna!

    I went on a field trip with my son just yesterday to our local one-room schoolhouse. So much fun to live in history for a day. They had a spelling bee too, but we couldn't play graces because it was raining.

    The kids were especially fascinated with the outdoor took the girls a lot of convincing to use the privy. They were so scared of spiders and the dim lighting. ;)

  3. This is awesome! Could you please go tour a high school from the 1920s next? In Chicago? ;)