As part of the grade one social studies curriculum, there is a unit devoted to
Families-Then and Now
. However, the social studies book we use covers the unit in less than ten pages and does not cover it in any depth. The first lines of this unit begins “Families have changed over the years.”
Living in Families
, Laidlow Publishers, Illinois, 1985, p.94) and that is about as fully as it is covered. The activity pages and questions in the book do not give the children a sense of discovery, and the Teacher’s Edition includes very few good ideas to use in the teaching of this unit.
I have found that children of this age level do understand that families change over the years. Siblings move out as they get older or married, new children arrive, or a relative dies. But they cannot envision the changes in family life and style beyond their own small unit. I have found this especially true at Thanksgiving time when we do a cursory study of early American life, and then the entire subject is dropped forever. Yes, we teach about the Pilgrims and Indians and how the Pilgrims adjusted and learned to live in their new homeland. We make Indians headbands, vests, bonnets and hats, but rarely do we go beyond this superficial coverage.
My objective is to expand this unit, beginning with the study of the Pilgrims and their landing at Plymouth Rock, and to develop it into a more substantial unit on Colonial America, especially life in Colonial Connecticut. Because of the age level of the students, it will not be as comprehensive a unit as expected in an upper grade unit, but it will focus on things such as school, clothing, games and toys, cooking, furniture and homes. To bring the unit to life it will be a visual and hands-on unit, rather than a reading and research one. First graders need to see and touch, rather than to hear, talk and read. The logical start of the unit would be in November when we focus on Thanksgiving. It would probably carry through to its culmination at Christmas, approximately six weeks.
Since the unit will begin near Thanksgiving time, a study of life at the
becomes a logical point to start. Using my personal slides to the Plantation and additional visuals, we can begin our comparison study. This unit will be two pronged, Pilgrims and Thanksgiving and life in Colonial Connecticut.