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Messsage from the Fourth Grade and Reading Specialists

Messsage from the Fourth Grade and Reading Specialists
Posted on 12/02/2015
“Change in the Making”
: The Fourth Grade Travels Back in Time

“Seeing the clock tower!” “Cleaning cotton!” “Hearing how loud the machines are! “Seeing the parts moving! “Imagining what life was like back then!”

LowellThese comments came straight from the fourth graders who recently visited the Boott Cotton Mills Museum at the Lowell National Historical Park. Through a series of hands-on, engaging activities, students learned about changes in land use, and the transition from a farm economy to a mill economy.

In the mural and map room, the students discovered how life and the land changed first hand by manipulating objects such as model homes of different eras and wild and domesticated animals in proximity to the Merrimack River. In addition, by examining differences on three murals depicting life during the Native American habitation, European farm settlement, and the beginnings of the industrial revolution, they were able to identify many changes in the usage of land over time.

The stage being set, the group also tried on some of the clothing of the period, experienced mill recruitment, visited a boarding house, and cleaned cotton by hand.

Some of the students enjoyed the cotton cleaning activity the most. “It was a challenge, and I (sort of) enjoy a challenge.” “I liked working with the tools.” “I learned that it took a long time to clean a little cotton.”

The final stop on our trip to a weaving room was a highlight for many. Before the trip, we had read The Bobbin Girl by Emily Arnold McCully, which fictionalized the real life of Harriet Hanson Robinson. This book provided a lot of insight into the lives of the mill girls. Our visit to the mill itself crystallized this part of history in our memories. Many thanks from the 4th grade team to the Friends of Peabody for funding this extraordinary trip.

Here are two student accounts from our trip:

Mills, By Annie Stone-Peterson

“Bump, bump, bump,” the bus lurched to a stop. There were several people waiting for us. Everybody sat on the bus for a few moments then hopped out. There, in front of us, was the Lowell Mills Historical Site. The two tour guides came up to us. One went with Ms. Cardoso’s class and the other went to Ms. A.’s class. The tour guide that went with Ms. Cardoso’s class (my class) was the principal at the Peabody before Ms. Ford.

She introduced herself then brought us into the mills. She then brought us to a room called the Mural Room. There, we did an activity about the Native Americans. We learned about how they lived and that the pilgrims came and took down the Native Americans’ land. They used it for farming. Next, the farms went away, and mills and boarding houses came.

We moved onto another part of the mill, called the Costume Room. In there, the boys dressed up the way they would back then and so did the girls. Then, we made a family with six kids and two adults. A messenger came and told the family that some of the kids should go to work at the mills. The mother didn’t want for her children to go, but the father did. After negotiating, they concluded that some children would go to the mills. When that was decided, we got out of our costumes and sang a song about the mills. Then, we moved on.

We traveled over to a boarding house. We climbed up the stairs and saw the smallest bedroom I have ever seen. There were two beds that took up so much room. Each bed held 6 people! They weren’t big beds, but the room was so small. Then, we moved over to another part of the second floor. There, we saw the first manikins ever made. Next, we went down to the kitchen and saw the stove they used and the foods they ate. Then, we moved to the dining room and saw where they ate. After that, we had lunch.

After lunch, my group went back to the mills to see the machines and how they made the fabric. It was so LOUD! We went by quickly. We didn’t want our ears blown off! When we spoke, we shouted so the other person could hear. I thought this part was really fun.

After that, we went into the room where we separated the cotton seeds from the cotton. Then, we cleaned the cotton. We had some tools and in little groups of three, we had to find the best way to do that. I got a lot of seeds and cleaned cotton with my group of three.

This will definitely be a core memory.

Lowell Mill Museum, By Fiameta Haile

Lowell MillMe, my classmates, Ms. A., plus five adults went on a field trip last week to see the Lowell Mill Museum. What I thought about the trip was that it was really interesting. We got to see all the mills, the weaving room, and we also got to dress up.

I tried to compare my house to the boarding houses and I thought that they have way less items in the kitchen than the kitchen at my house. I noticed I have a sink, but they don’t. I also noticed that I have a microwave in my kitchen, but they don’t. I thought the quality in the kitchens these days are more advanced than the kitchens in the boarding houses.

On the field trip, I learned things that I didn’t know yet. For example, guys earn more money than the girls because the guys got paid $3 and the girls only got paid $2.

I also learned that if you are taking out seeds inside the cotton, there is a type of machine that can take out the seeds from the cotton faster than by hands. It was called the Cotton Gin.

In the boarding houses, there are no bathrooms. In fact, they don’t even have a closet. All they have is one pair of shoes and the clothes they wear inside a bin.

I really enjoyed the trip to Lowell because I got to learn many things and facts I didn’t know yet. I also got to see many parts of the Lowell Mills. I really enjoyed the fieldtrip to the Lowell Mill Museum.