For many of my lessons, I gather my students to the rug so that we can have a more intimate conversation than me speaking to the children at their seats. This lesson is one of those occasions because I want to share some artifacts with the students, too. I have a rotary phone, a coffee grinder, a camera, and a wooden toy dog. When the children join me, I show them each of these items and ask them if they know what they are. Then I pull out my modern versions of these same items: my cell phone, electric coffee mill, digital camera, a plastic toy dog. We compare the objects and discuss how these everyday items have changed over the years. I write on the Chalkboard the headers--Now and Then. We list the items that I brought under the appropriate header.
Boys and girls, come join me at the rug. I have some interesting things to show you. When I hold the items up, you may say what you think the item is called.
Now let's take a look at the things that are called the same as the items I showed you, but these items are from now.
On the board, I wrote the words "Now" and "Then". Let's list the names of these things under the headings. Are you beginning to understand how things can be somewhat the same, but still different? I am going to share a book with you that will talk about Now and Then.
I introduce the book, Now and Then by Faridah Yusof . This book shows photos and drawings of items from long ago and today. It is a very short book, but has great illustrations to support the objective of this lesson of comparing life from long ago and lives of my students. Asking students to compare and contrast similarities and differences leads to an increase in student achievement, and when we do this in regard to historical teaching,( ie. past and present.) it helps the children understand the world of today.
Here is the book that I want to share with you, Now and Then by Faridah Yusof. Because the book is not long, I will read the book once without anyone asking questions, and then I will read it a second time to talk about and make the comparisons. As we talk, I will add the objects from the book to the list on the board that we have already begun. Which is from long ago, the horse and cart or the car? Which is from now, the refrigerator or the ice box?
See this chart? I have written everyone's names. I want everyone to think for a minute--Is there something that you have now that you would miss if we lived in the "olden days"? Before you answer, I want you to formulate your idea. That way, we are not all waiting for you to come up with answers. Each child gets to contribute one thing to the list that they would miss.
To save on time, I will write the children's names on the Chart for Long Ago ahead of the activity. This sets up the assessment piece of the lesson.
Each child is given a journaling page to complete. This will be added to a class book about Now and Then. The children are instructed to write about an item that they would miss from their lives now if they had to travel back in time. I remind them that they can refer to the list on the board or the list that we generated on the chart paper to help them spell words. We also discuss what a detailed picture would look like--one Lego brick v. a structure built from Legos; a gaming controller v. the whole set-up; etc. I repeat my expectations and our objectives for the lesson: complete the sentence--"If I lived long ago, I would miss ____ most of all.", and a detailed picture that compares life long ago to life today.
When you go back to your seats, you will find a journaling page that says, "If I lived long ago, I would miss ____ most of all." I want you to write about something you would miss, and then illustrate the idea onto your page. You may use the information on the chalkboard or on our chart paper to help you fill in the blank. Do your finest work since these pages will be put together to make a class book. I would like to see details, not just a tiny drawing.
A fun extension to the Now and Then lesson is to make homemade butter. A friend has crank butter churn that I have borrowed before to show the children how people made butter long ago. If you do not have something like this available, you can use a clean glass jar. Pour in a carton of whipping cream into the container and churn (or shake) until the cream separates and solidifies. This is a great way to make a real life connection to how hard the work was for people long ago. We sit in a circle and I let each of the children have an opportunity to churn or shake. When their arms get tired, they pass the jar to the next person.
We take the butter from the jar and we compare it to a stick of butter from the store. I give the children a bit of old-fashioned butter and a bit of store butter and two crackers. The children can taste both and then we can graph which one they like better.