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School Days

Did you ever wonder why there is no school in summer? Or why there might be soon?

What you'll need:
Map of the United States
History log

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What to do:

  1. Talk about what school was like when you were a child. Include how schools looked physically (e.g., one-room schoolhouse or campus?); what equipment teachers used (e.g., chalk boards or computers?); what subjects you studied; what choices you faced (e.g., transportation to and from school, extracurricular activities); and favorite teachers.

  2. Talk about what school was like 50 or 100 years ago. Ask your librarian for help in looking this up, and talk to older relatives.

    Include the history of work in America and how this affects schooling. For example, when America was an agricultural society, children were needed to help plant and harvest crops. It was common then that children didn't go to school every day, or in the summer.

    Have children draw a variety of crops or animals raised in the United States, including those grown in their own state or neighborhood. They can draw either right on the map or on paper that they will cut and paste on the appropriate state. The map can be traced from an atlas in the library or from a geography book. Talk about when various crops are planted and harvested, and the effects of growing seasons on migrant worker families.

    Talk about another change in work in America and how it affected schooling. For example, when America was becoming a manufacturing economy, during the Industrial Revolution, laws were made against child labor and for mandatory schooling.

    Help your child talk about how the work of parents in America today affects schooling, for example, the need for afterschool programs.

  3. Imagine what school will be like in the future. Younger children may want to use blocks to build their future school, and older children may want to draw theirs.

Questions to ask:
What has remained the same about school from the past to the present? What has changed? If you could be the head of a school 20 years from now, what would you keep and what would you change based on your current school? How would you go about making the change?

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