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Thursday, December 16, 2010

The past is never dead. It isn’t even past...William Faulkner

"The past is never dead. It isn’t even past"...William Faulkner.

I agree with Faulkner and, today, I think there are 21 ten year-olds who might be of the same opinion as well.

While these fourth graders are still in the elementary stages of cursive writing, they braved the challenge of writing a letter with a quill pen. Simulating their peers of over 250 years ago, students used real feathers, parchment paper, ink and blotting paper to 'pen' a letter of thanks to their parents.

They were given instruction in the "art of the beautiful hand" or penmanship of Colonial Times and one hour to complete the assignment.

The challenge: writing on paper without lines; manipulating a delicate tool without breaking it; using (washable) ink from a pot

The reward: concentrating on a not-so-easy task; putting their learning into practice; a beautiful, endearing letter.

The comments: "I like writing with the quills!" "It looks easier than it is!" "I feel like a real colonial boy!"

Often an activity such as this is overlooked as it is not measured on MCAS or other standardized assessments. It is clear that it was a project worth the undertaking. When students 'experience' a piece of history in this way, it makes them compare that occurrence to events in their own lives of today. It is priceless and worth exploring.

Check out the following site to learn how to Make your own quill pen or try these Activities for School Days in Colonial Times to bring your history lessons come to life!

Providing first hand experiences to our children will not only further their education, but it will also ensure that the "past is never dead".


  1. What a great activity! I want to go back to 4th grade and have you as my teacher. Welcome to blogging, looking forward to reading more!


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