Thursday, October 13, 2016

Check Out Our New Footlocker!

The Montana Historical Society’s Hands-on History Footlockers are among our most popular educational resources. Designed for fourth grade—but used successfully in both lower elementary, middle school, and high school classrooms—these thematic "traveling trunks" focus on a wide variety of topics, ranging from the fur-trading and mining industries, to Indian life during the reservation period and today. (Learn more here).

And now, we proudly present our newest footlocker, Original Governor’s Mansion: Home to the Stewart Family in Turbulent Times, 1913-1921. This footlocker fills an important gap in our offerings, by providing an opportunity to investigate life and politics during the Progressive Era and World War I, 1913-1921, as well as the history and architecture of a magnificent building.

For this footlocker, we've concentrated on children's experiences, focusing on the lives of the governor's three daughters during their time in the mansion. This allowed us to explore not only architecture and Montana politics during this period, but everyday life--including school, manners, music, games, and life skills that were once common but rarely taught now (darning, for example).

The footlocker examines

  • Entertainment and social life through period books and games (including Parcheesi, Goops and How to Be Them, a 1919 Helena High School Yearbook, a calling card tray, and a Victrola record, and clothespin dolls)
  • Needle arts (through a well-stocked sewing basket, a doll quilt, and doll house sized rag rugs) 
  • World War I on the home front (using posters, knitting projects, lumps of coal, and a booklet written by young Marjorie Stewart)
  • Architecture (the User Guide includes plans so students can build their own mansions from paper or cardstock). 

We think your students will love working with the objects we’ve gathered, and the lesson plans make good use of the objects included in the footlocker.

At the same time, we’re aware that not every teacher will be able to order the physical footlocker. So we worked hard to digitize as much as possible—by creating 6 PowerPoints, which allow access to the 66 mostly historic images included in the footlocker. In addition, Lesson Plans are all available online to download free of charge and over half of them can be used WITHOUT ordering the trunk.

Aligned to the ELA Common Core and Montana State Standards for Social Studies the lesson plans were designed for fourth grade but many can be adapted to higher or lower grades. In creating the lessons, we worked from state standards to teach the following big ideas:

  • Children and their families lived, played, and went to school in a variety of settings across Montana. Many factors—economics, geography, technology, ethnicity, and time period—shaped their homes, play areas, and schools.
  • The way a structure looks reflects the period in which it was built, the builders’ resources, and the building’s function.
  • Reminiscences, oral histories, and photographs are valuable sources for learning about the past. All sources have a point of view. We are all living through and making history—kids included.
  • In all eras, all places, and all cultures there are established expectations of behavior and standards for how people treat one another.
  • Governor Stewart (1913–1921) served during turbulent times. Big political issues and social issues affect everyone.
  •  Expectations for elementary students were different a hundred years ago than they are today. 
  • In the past, very few things were designed to be disposable—and when things broke, people tried to fix them or find a way to reuse them instead of throwing them away.

We're pretty proud of our newest footlocker, which we'll have on display at our booth in the MEA-MFT exhibit hall--so stop by and see it and let us know what you think!

And speaking of MEA-MFT: Have you registered to attend our Wednesday Evening Open House Reception? I hate throwing parties, because I am always simultaneously worried that no one will come and that so many people will come that I'll run out of food. Help curb my anxiety--sign up now!

P.S. There’s also still room in our 9-3:50 Bring History Alive institute, on Thursday, October 20, which you can also register for through the MEA-MFT portal.

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