Grade 3 – Kids at Sea in the 19th Century

by Laura Krenicki
William J. Johnston Middle School, Colchester


TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT
Topic
Transportation, Exploration & Discovery
Theme
Influence of Geography on the Social, Political, and Economic Development of CT Towns and the State
Town
Mystic, a village in the towns of Groton and Stonington, Statewide
Related Search Terms
19th Century, Life at Sea, Maud Maxon, Letter, Education, Ship, Primary Source, Everyday Life
Social Studies Frameworks
Grade 3 – Connecticut & Local History
D1: POTENTIAL COMPELLING QUESTION

How did maritime culture influence the people of Connecticut?

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS
  • How was life in the 1870s similar or different to life in Connecticut now?
  • How has transportation improved since 1870?
  • What would it have been like for children at sea?
D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson.

Maud Maxon was a little girl in Mystic, Connecticut, who went on a ship voyage with her uncle. Her mother did not go on the trip, so the letter tells her mother of her days at sea. Page one of letter. - Mystic Seaport
Maud Maxon was a little girl in Mystic, Connecticut, who went on a ship voyage with her uncle. Her mother did not go on the trip, so the letter tells her mother of her days at sea. Page one of letter. – Mystic Seaport
Page 2 of letter. - Mystic Seaport
Page 2 of letter. There are more pages available on the Mystic Seaport link. – Mystic Seaport
Page 3 of letter. - Mystic Seaport
Page 3 of letter. There are more pages available on the Mystic Seaport link. – Mystic Seaport
D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

Divide students into small groups and have them read the first page of the letter (if it is difficult to read, click on the Mystic Seaport link as there is a “transcription” of the text as well as an audio version at the top of the page). Have students write questions about the letter on sticky notes. Continue with the next page and see if any of the questions on the sticky notes were answered. Remove those notes. Add new notes as additional questions are raised, etc.

Explore the questions and see if some are answerable with the letter itself. If not, have students research what life at sea would have been like, and even more so for children. Also consider the routes one would need to take in the 19th century to go from Mystic, Connecticut, to San Francisco, California.

D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS
  • Students may create their own letters as though they were aboard a ship, and use examples/terms from the Artifact Resource Sets found on the Mystic Seaport website. For example: “although it is often very dark in the bunks where we sleep, the DECK LIGHTS set in the upper deck allows for some light to the lower deck.”
  • Create a map of the sea routes one would take to travel from Mystic, Connecticut, to San Francisco, California, in the 19th century. Would there be a faster sea route now?
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Places to GO
Things to DO
Websites to VISIT
Articles to READ