Digging America: Discovering Early America

By Jeanette Larson

Books to Share

Ain't Nothing But a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry by Scott Reynolds Nelson

On the Texas Trail of Cabeza de Vaca by Peter Lourie

Surviving Jamestown: The Adventures of Young Sam Collier by Gail Langer Karwoski

Who Discovered America? by Valerie Wyatt

Books to Show or Booktalk

Ancient Mounds of Watson Brakes: Oldest Earthworks in North America by Elizabeth Moore and Alice Couvillon

The Lost Treasure of Captain Kidd by Peter Lourie

Who Was First?: Discovering the Americas by Russell Freedman

Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland by Sally M. Walker

Bulletin Board

Old School

Cut out some quill pens and ink pots using the pattern provided at the end of this chapter. Cut out some of the hornbook templates using the pattern provided at the end of this chapter. Cover the bulletin board with brown kraft paper. Place quill pens and ink pots on the board. Write the titles of books on the hornbook templates and add these to the bulletin board. Add lettering to label the bulletin board Old School. If desired, embellish the quill pens by gluing or stapling real feathers in place.

Display

The Bureau of Land Management provides artifact kits to loan to teachers and libraries. Check out the ceramics typology kit or one of the others at http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/ahc/teach/loankits.html. Reserve these free loans far in advance and use the artifacts as the center of a display.

Refreshments

In early America there was no refrigeration so foods like milk and butter would spoil quickly. Early settlers made apple cider to drink and ate dried fruit for snacks. Serve apple juice and dried cranberries for a colonial treat.

Costumes and Props

Tri-corner Hats

Make tri-corner hats, popular during colonial days, by providing each child with a copy of the pattern provided at the end of this chapter printed on white construction paper. Each child also needs three sheets of black construction paper, a large feather, scissors, pencils and a stapler. In advance, copy the template onto 8½" X 11" white construction paper. Let the children cut out the template and then trace it on to three pieces of black construction paper. Staple the edges together, adjusting the staples so that the hat fits the child's head. Once the hat is the correct size, staple a feather to the back of the hat.

Songs

Yankee Doodle

(Traditional)

Yankee Doodle went to town,

A-Riding on a pony;

He stuck a feather in his cap,

And called it macaroni.

Chorus

Yankee Doodle, keep it up

Yankee Doodle dandy

Mind the music and the step

And with the girls be handy!

Father and I went down to camp

Along with Captain Gooding

And there we saw the men and boys

As thick as hasty pudding.

Chorus

And there was Captain Washington

And gentle folks about him

They say he's grown so dog-gone proud

He will not ride without him.

Chorus

Action Rhymes

Three Cornered Hat

(Traditional. After singing the full verse the first time, substitute actions for the word as indicated. The last stanza will be entirely actions with only connector words being sung.)

My hat, it has three corners,

Three corners has my hat,

And had it not three corners,

It would not be my hat.

My (place both hands on head to indicate a hat), it has three corners,

Three corners has my (place both hands on head to indicate a hat)

And had it not three corners,

It would not be my (place both hands on head to indicate a hat).

My (place both hands on head to indicate a hat), it has (hold up three fingers) corners,

(Hold up three fingers) corners has my (place both hands on head to indicate a hat)

And had it not (hold up three fingers) corners,

It would not be my (place both hands on head to indicate a hat).

My (place both hands on head to indicate a hat), it has (hold up three fingers, jab out your elbow to indicate a corner),

(Hold up three fingers, jab out your elbow to indicate a corner) has my (place both hands on head to indicate a hat)

And had it not (hold up three fingers, jab out your elbow to indicate a corner),

It would not be my (place both hands on head to indicate a hat).

My (place both hands on head to indicate a hat), it has (hold up three fingers, jab out your elbow to indicate a corner),

(Hold up three fingers, jab out your elbow to indicate a corner) has my (place both hands on head to indicate a hat)

And had it not, (hold up three fingers, jab out your elbow to indicate a corner)

It would not be my (place both hands on head to indicate a hat).

Rhymes and Poetry

In 1492

(Traditional)

In fourteen hundred ninety-two

Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

He had three ships and left from Spain;

He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.

He sailed by night; he sailed by day;

He used the stars to find his way.

A compass also helped him know

How to find the way to go.

Ninety sailors were on board;

Some men worked while others snored.

Then the workers went to sleep;

And others watched the ocean deep.

Day after day they looked for land;

They dreamed of trees and rocks and sand.

October 12 their dream came true,

You never saw a happier crew!

"Indians! Indians!" Columbus cried;

His heart was filled with joyful pride.

But "India" the land was not;

It was the Bahamas, and it was hot.

The Arakawa natives were very nice;

They gave the sailors food and spice.

Columbus sailed on to find some gold

To bring back home, as he'd been told.

He made the trip again and again,

Trading gold to bring to Spain.

The first American? No, not quite.

But Columbus was brave, and he was bright.

Audio Recordings

"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" on Rabbit Ears Holiday Stories Vol. 1

"Rip Van Winkle" on Rabbit Ears American Tall Tales Vol. 1

Stories to Tell

Yankee Doodle Donkey

Tell this tongue twister tale by S. E. Schlosser, available from American Folklore, http://www.americanfolklore.net/tonguetwisters/yankeedoodle.html. It's perfect for the 4th of July or any time you want a funny story to tell.

Tongue Twister

The skunk sat on a stump and thunk the stump stunk

But the stump thunk the skunk stunk.

Bluebirds bring bright berries.

She sheared six shabby sick sheep.

Riddles and Jokes

Q. What always flies up but remains down?

A. Goosefeathers!

Q. What falls down but never gets hurt?

A. Snowflakes.

Crafts

Putting Together the Pieces
Materials
  • Blank jigsaw puzzles (one per child)
  • Photographs of Indian pottery
  • Crayons, markers, or colored pencils
  • Zip-loc baggies
Directions

In advance purchase blank jigsaw puzzles. These come in a variety of sizes and pieces so select according to the age of the children who will be participating in the craft. Be sure to select the type that can be drawn on with crayons and markers. Also in advance, pull books and magazines that contain photographs of Indian pottery. Allow the children to review these photographs before drawing their own pottery on the jigsaw puzzle. Use the crayons, markers, or colored pencils to create a picture on the blank puzzle. Undo the puzzle and store in a Zip-loc baggie. Swap with a friend for a greater challenge in trying to restore the "broken" pottery.

Paper Dolls

Copy patterns from the Dear America website, http://www.scholastic.com/dearamerica/myamerica/paperdolls.htm, and allow each child to color and cut out their favorite characters.

Games and Activities

Popular games in early America included jack straws (pick-up sticks), marbles, spinning tops, and hopscotch. Set up an area in the program room and provide the materials to play these games.

The Name Game

Use the name generator available from Mystic Games, http://www.mysticgames.com/names.htm, to explore Native American names and the meanings attributed to them.

Postcards from the Past

Based on a postcard from 1910, Scott Reynolds Nelson dug up the real facts about the legendary folk hero, John Henry. Collect old postcards and ask each child to select one. Using only information they can glean from the postcard and research from library books and the Internet, let each child come up with a story to match the image on the card.

Garbage Pail Archeology

Follow the instructions provided by Kids Can Press, http://www.kidscanpress.com/Assets/Books/w_WhoDiscoveredAmerica

_1945/PDFs/WhoDiscoveredAmerica_1945_teaching.pdf
, for the book, Who Discovered America?, to create your own excavation sites in the library.

Web-Based Activities

Dirt Detective

http://www.colonialwilliamsburg.org/kids/games/dirtDetective.cfm

Record field notes and think like an archeologist by playing at this online dig site in Colonial Williamsburg.

On the Trail of Captain John Smith

http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/Games/InteractiveAdventures/John-smith

Based on the book, John Smith Escapes Again! by Ros Schanzer, players discover what life was like 400 years ago.

The Underground Railroad

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/railroad/

The National Geographic site provides an interactive journey along the Underground Railroad.

Web 2.0

Ye Olde Gazette

Encourage the children to use a free web-based application like Letterpop, http://letterpop.com/, to create a newsletter about all of the things they have "dug up" about Early America. The drop-and-drag functions in the application are easy to learn and digital photographs and images can be added. Print the newsletters for display in the library.

Geocaching: a Modern Day Treasure Hunt

Geocaching, or letterboxing, is a game that can be played with technology, using a GPS system to locate coordinates and small items placed at those locations. You can also develop a low-tech version that uses compasses and maps to find items left at predetermined locations. This is a modern day treasure hunt that can lead kids to historical places in your community. Use resources like Letterboxing North America, http://letterboxing.org/, Geocaching with Kids, http://eduscapes.com/geocaching/kids.htm, or Let's Go Geocaching by John McKinney to set up a game. Ask the participants to use digital cameras to photograph themselves at the geo-cache site and upload those photographs to the library website or a photo sharing site like Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/.

Guest Speakers

Invite an historian or history teacher to talk about the history of Texas, your county, or another part of the country.

Ask a local folk music group to sing songs from pioneer and colonial America.

Invite a dance group to teach the children how to dance a minuet or a reel. YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-_GgqY8q_g, has a short film demonstrating the Virginia Reel.

DVDs/Films

American Legends (58 minutes)

"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" on The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (68 minutes)

Plymouth Plantation (23 minutes)

Computer Software

The Oregon Trail

Professional Resources

Texas Historical Commission

http://www.thc.state.tx.us/archeology/aatam.shtml

Find out where archeological sites are in Texas, this state agency provides a searchable atlas of historic sites in any Texas county.

Craft Materials

Old School Quill and Ink Pot Bulletin Board Pattern

Printer Friendly PDF Version (129 KB) (Full Page)

A full page of an Old School Quill and Ink Pot Bulletin Board Pattern.

 

Hornbook Bulletin Board Pattern

Printer Friendly PDF Version (117 KB) (Full Page)

A full page pattern of a Hornbook Bulletin Board Pattern.

 

Tri-corner Hats Costumes and Prop

Printer Friendly PDF Version (154 KB) (Full Page)

A full page of a Tri-corner Hats Costumes and Prop. There is a straight line on the left of the page with another line next to it that has a bulge in the center of it.

 



Texas Reading Club 2011 Programming Manual / Dig Up a Good Book!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011