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One Room School
School Day

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Teacher's desk

To begin the school day, the teacher rang the school bell. The boys lined up in one line and the girls in another. The girls filed into the building and then the boys. The teacher went to the front of the room to begin opening exercises. Children studied the 3 Rs; reading, writing and arithmetic as well as spelling, penmanship, grammar, history and geography.

Students' desks

The Teacher's Desk with a Bell
--Photo courtesy of the Living History Farms, 2600 111 th Street, Urbandale, IA 50322 http://www.lhf.org/index.htm
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Students' Desks
--Photo courtesy of the Johnson County Historical Society, P.O. Box 5081, Coralville, IA 52241-5081
http://www.jchsiowa.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bear Creek School

 

Students ranging in age from four to eighteen attended one-room schools. In this school in Coralville, Iowa, the youngest students sat in front on the long bench and the oldest students sat in back. Almanzo Wilder started school when he was nine. The girls sat on one side of the room and the boys on the other. There was a big stove in between. Almanzo sat on the very front seat and had no desk. He must be perfectly still and study his lessons. His legs were too short to touch the floor and sometimes one of his legs would kick before he could stop it.

The teacher started the school day with a song, such as "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," or a short essay or Bible verse. Then the students were given their assignments, which were written on the blackboard. When Laura taught at the Bouchie School, she planned reading, arithmetic and grammar in the morning and more reading, history, writing and spelling in the afternoon. There were three recesses during the day, one in the morning, one in the afternoon and one to eat lunch.

Teacher's Desk and portrait of George Washington

Bear Creek School in Iowa
--Photo courtesy of the State Historical Society of Iowa, 402 Iowa Avenue, Iowa City, IA 52240 http://www.iowahistory.org

 

Teacher's Desk
--Photo courtesy of the Johnson County Historical Society, P.O. Box 5081, Coralville, IA 52241-5081 http://www.jchsiowa.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the students worked at their lessons, the teacher called classes to the front of the room to recite from memory what they had learned. Students worked at their desks, writing their lessons on their slates or on paper with an ink pen. Students had to supply their own books, slates, slate pencils or paper, ink and pen. The teacher in this photograph is meeting with a group of students while others are working by themselves or with a partner. What else can you tell about this one-room school?

Wash basin and towel

There were no indoor bathrooms in one-room schools. Students had to go outside to the outhouse and wash their hands in a basin in the back of the school.

Water bucket with dipper

There was no running water in one-room schools. Students drank from the same dipper and had to fill the water bucket from a pump outside, from a nearby creek or the nearest house. Imagine carrying a water bucket a mile or more to school.

Wash Basin and Towel
--Photo courtesy of the Johnson County Historical Society,
P.O. Box 5081, Coralville, IA 52241-5081 http://www.jchsiowa.org/
  Water Bucket with Dipper
--Photo courtesy of the Johnson County Historical Society, P.O. Box 5081, Coralville, IA 52241-5081 http://www.jchsiowa.org/
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photographs of children at recess, water bucket, wash basin, children working at their desks and inside a one-room school museum courtesy of the Johnson County Historical Society, P.O. Box 5081, Coralville, IA 52241-5081
http://www.jchsiowa.org/

Postcard of the Brewster School courtesy of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society,105 Olivet Ave., Box 426, De Smet, SD 57231 http://www.discoverlaura.org

Photographs of the Bear Creek School, students playing a circle game at recess, boys building a fence and boys playing tug-of-was courtesy of the State Historical Society of Iowa, 402 Iowa Avenue, Iowa City, IA 52240 http://www.iowahistory.org



Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum
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