(We challenge you to do these history activities each week! If you decide to do the challenge, share it with us through our Facebook and Instagram pages and use the hashtag #HistoryisAliveChallenge.
This weeks lesson will be on; Colonial Virginia: Daily Life, Clothing, and Children
Words you need to know:
Laborer- a person doing unskilled manual work for wages.
Tilling- prepare and cultivate (land) for crops.
Middle Class- the social group between the upper and working classes, including professional and business workers and their families.
Tradesmen- refers to a worker who specializes in a particular occupation that requires work experience, on-the-job training, and often formal vocational education.
Apprentice- a person who is learning a trade from a skilled employer, having agreed to work for a fixed period at low wages.
Whirligig- a toy that spins around, for example, a top or a pinwheel.
Tongue Twister- a sequence of words or sounds, typically of an alliterative kind, that are difficult to pronounce quickly and correctly.
Activity #1: There were two main types of living in Colonial times. Farm life and City life.
A typical day on the farm started early in the morning as soon as the sun began to rise. Farmers needed to take advantage of every minute of daylight to get their work complete. The family would have a quick breakfast of porridge and beer and then everyone would go to work.
The men worked outside on the farm and the fields. What they did depended on the time of year. During the spring they would be tilling and planting the fields. They had to do all the work by hand or with the help of an ox or horse. During the fall they had to gather the harvest. The rest of the time they tended the fields, took care of their livestock, chopped wood, fixed fences, and repaired the house. There was always more work to do.
The women worked every bit as hard as the men. They prepared the meals, sewed and mended the clothing, made candles, managed the garden, prepared food for the winter, wove cloth, and raised the children.
The children were put to work as soon as they were able. In many ways children were seen as laborers for the family. The boys helped the father with his work and the girls helped their mother. This way they also learned the skills they would need when they grew up.
The city was the home to many people of the "middling class." These were people who were not poor farmers, but were also not members of the very wealthy gentry class. They consisted of tradesmen (blacksmiths, tailors, coopers, etc.) and professionals (merchants, lawyers, doctors, etc.). Although these people were better off than the average poor farmer, they still worked very hard from sunrise to sunset each day.
Many people working in the cities were tradesmen who had very specific skills. Examples of tradesmen include blacksmiths, tailors, coopers, wheelwrights, and shoemakers. Tradesmen spent their lives learning a skill. Young boys would become apprentices at the age of six or seven years old and would work the next seven or so years learning the trade. Upon finishing their apprenticeship they would become journeymen. Journeymen still worked for a master, but earned wages.
Tradesmen worked long hours in order to be successful. During busy times, they might work 16 hours a day for six days a week. Life wasn't easy as a tradesmen, but they had a good job and were able to provide a nice life for their family.
Compare and contrast the different types of living. Which way of life would you choose to live and why?
Activity #2: Men, Women's, and Children's Clothing were different than what we wear today.
Shirt - The shirt was generally the only undergarment (underwear) that the man would wear. It was usually made of white linen and was fairly long, sometimes covering all the way to the knees.
Waistcoat - Over the shirt, the man wore a waistcoat. The waistcoat was a tight-fitting vest. It could be made from cotton, silk, linen, or wool. The waistcoat could be plain or decorated with items such as lace, embroidery, and tassels.
Coat - The coat was worn over the waistcoat. The coat was a long-sleeved heavier item. There were different length coats. Some were shorter and close-fitting while others were much longer reaching well past the knees.
Cravat - The cravat was one of the most popular forms of neckwear. Most men wore a cravat. A cravat was a long strip of white linen that was wrapped around the neck several times and then tied in front.
Breeches - Breeches were pants that stopped just below the knee.
Stockings - Stockings covered the rest of the leg and feet below the breeches. They were usually white and made from cotton or linen.
Shoes - Most men wore low-heeled leather shoes with buckles. The most popular color was black.
Shift - The shift was the undergarment (underwear) worn by women. It was usually made from white linen and was like a long shirt or short dress that went down to the knees.
Stay - The stay was worn over the shift. The stay was very stiff and uncomfortable. It was lined with hard materials like bones, wood, or metal in order to stay straight. The purpose of the stay was to help women have good posture.
Stockings - Long linen or woolen stockings covered the feet and lower legs.
Petticoats - Petticoats were similar to skirts. They were worn over the shift and stay and under the gown. Sometimes multiple layers of petticoats would be worn for added warmth. Many gowns were open in the front where the petticoat could be seen.
Gown - The main article of clothing worn by women was the gown. The gown was worn over the stay and the petticoat. Often the gown had an opening in front where the petticoat would be seen, making the petticoat an important part of the overall dress. Gowns for working women were usually made from fabrics such as wool or cotton. Wealthier women would wear fine silk gowns with lots of lace and decorations.
Shoes - Women wore a variety of shoes. They were often made from leather, woven cloth, or even silk. They were made with and without heels.
Boy Children Wore:
Boys began to wear doublets once they were around the age of four. Doublets consisted of fitted, long-sleeved jackets and petticoats. More grown-up looking clothes were given to boys when they were approximately six years old. When a boy began to wear breeches, this meant that he was not a baby anymore, and the family often celebrated this day. Along with breeches, boys wore button-up shirts that were sometimes ruffled around the collar and cuffs. A coat completed the outfit. Shoes were normally dark brown and made of leather.
Girl Children Wore:
Girls wore a stay, or corset, on top of a smock. Over the stay, they wore a waistcoat, which looked much like a snug, long-sleeved jacket. Some of the items of clothing worn by girls served useful or protective purposes. For instance, the addition of one or more wool petticoats under the skirt, depending on temperature, protected young girls from fire during cooking. Girls also wore aprons to protect their clothing when they were cooking and cleaning. Girls generally used dark leather shoes similar to what the boys wore, but sometimes the girls' shoes had a small heel.
For this activity you will make yourself a pilgrim bonnet or pilgrim hat. Click the link below for the instructions on how to make these two objects.
Activity #3: Colonial kids had to work most of the time just as the adults did. The girls worked with their mothers learning to cook, sew and milk the cows. Boys worked with their father learning farming, cutting firewood and fixing tools. Free time was almost nonexistent. Most kids didn't have toys when they did have a few moments to play. If parents had some money they could import dolls, tea sets and such from England. Some toys such as doll houses could be made by their parents, but colonists were usually too busy with trying to survive. Children did find toys in everyday objects though. They took the rings off old storage barrels to roll around, used string for cat's cradle and pebbles for hopscotch.
In this activity help your Mom or Dad with a daily chore. This could mean; cleaning, cooking, folding laundry, helping with a little brother or sister, making your bed, set the table, and many more!
Activity #4: Children in the Colonial Era made their own toys most of the time. In this activity you are going to make your own toy to play with. Choose between making a whirligig and a spoon doll. Click the links below for instructions.
Activity #5: Colonial Children like children today made up there own tongue twisters. Make up your own tongue twister or rhyme one of the tongue twisters provided in the link below!
BONUS ACTIVITY: Put together the Burwell-Morgan Mill puzzle! The Burwell-Morgan Mill was built in colonial times and is still a working grist mill today! When you are finished with the puzzle, take a picture of it and tag us @clarkehistory and put the hashtag #historyisalivechallenge! We hope you enjoyed this weeks #historyisalivechallenge.
Next Week's Lesson: Revolutionary War
Don't forget to share! Post your completed activities on Facebook and tag us @clarkehistory or on Instagram @clarke_history and use the hashtag #HistoryisAliveChallenge.
Do you have a topic you would love us to do? Email Taylor Coumes at email@example.com to share your ideas!