For Kids and Their Families
School Days at MDI Historical Society
When founded in 1931, the Society's principal purpose was to educate the public, specifically about "ways of living in the past." Later the Society adopted the motto "Preserving the past for the future." Whenever we use the Society's resources to educate the community, we are doing so not simply to teach people about the past, but to encourage people to use the past to make informed choices for the future.
In our educational programs for schoolchildren, island students attend a school day in the Sound School House. The present one-room school house operated from 1892-1926, and it replaced an earlier school on the premises. In the year 2000 the renovated school house re-opened with an addition that included offices, a library and a collections vault. This state-of-the-art building gives us the advantage of a space for work in preservation and conservation and for work with local students and teachers and other educational organizations, including Acadia Senior Colleges and Road Scholars, which hold classes here.
In Our "School Day in 1894" program, students experience:
- an 1894 classroom environment complete with lessons in geography, literature, and math
- a sense of local cultural history through styles of dress, food, games and classroom topics
- a question and answer session devoted to history and museums
- a opportunity to learn about games and toys of the past.
The day is divided into two parts:
Part I. The first part immerses students for nearly two hours in a turn- of-the- century classroom environment. Students come prepared, having researched local 19th century dress, food and schools before they arrive. They are encouraged to dress as 1890s students and to carry with them lunches appropriate to the period. With the aid of McGuffey's Readers, slates and slate pencils, the students spend nearly two hours reading lessons, practicing penmanship, reciting poetry, and solving arithmetic problems the old-fashioned way.
A volunteer, Maude March, dresses the part and plays the role of the teacher, Mrs. Abbot. Mrs. Abbot runs a strict class enriched with local anecdotes drawn directly from research in local history. She challenges the class with problems such as this:
If the Schooner Bloomer can transport 10 tons of paving blocks from Somes Sound to Boston, and the Schooner Royal Arch can transport 12 tons of paving blocks from Somes Sound to Boston, and the Schooner William H. Swan can transport seven tons of paving blocks from Somes Sound to Boston, how many tons of paving blocks were carried from Somes Sound to Boston?
Students soon become adept in traditional classroom methods. They stand, repeat and answer each question (always beginning and ending with "Ma'am").
Part II. The second portion of the program involves an old-fashioned recess, with games like tug-of-war, variations of tag, jump rope, rolling hoops -- or sometimes we just climb a tree to pick apples. After a "seriously fun" morning everyone takes a break on our front porch with their homemade lunches.
These school days are an on-going project of the Society, a free program offered to the 3rd through 5th graders of Mount Desert Island grammar schools.
Other Hancock County schools and home schoolers who would like to visit are invited to contact the Society at 276-9323.