Saturday, January 21, 2012

Farm Tools Exhibition at Museum Village

Farm Tools Exhibition at Museum Village

Pre-Visit/Post-Visit Activities for the Classroom

Essential Question: What was life like on a farm in 19th century New York State, and how is it the same/different from my life now?

Overview: Students will listen to the book Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder read aloud by their classroom teacher and keep a response journal. After a class visit to Museum Village and touring the Farm Tools exhibit, students will develop a research question related to the exhibit and 19th century life. Students will conduct their research using the ‘Big 6’ method and will present their research, which will be displayed on the Museum Village website.

Standards Addressed: (Grade four specific)

English/Language Arts


Key Ideas and Details

Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

Summarize the text

Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text.

Craft and Structure

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text.

Responding to Literature

Make connections to personal events and situations.


Production and Distribution of Writing

Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge

Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating an understanding of the subject under investigation.

Responding to Literature

Develop personal connections within and across genres as they respond to texts through written presentations.

Social Studies

The new nation
Those values, practices, and traditions that unite all Americans

Industrial growth and expansion

Transportation, inventions, communication, and technology

Geographic influences of industrialization and expansion
(e.g., natural resources, location); the interactions between economic and geographic factors

Urbanization: economic, political, and social impacts

Economic interdependence (e.g., resource use; from farm to market)

Pre-visit Activities:

Objective: Students will understand what life was like on a farm in northern New York State during the middle of the 19th century.

1. Read aloud to the class the book Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. This book focuses on the experiences of nine year old Almanzo Wilder during one year on the farm he grew up on in Malone, NY. Many of the activities/tools that students will see at Museum Village are mentioned in the book.

Themes in the book include:

19th century rural life


Childhood of the past

Trade-based economy

Home craft

2. Introduce the book by activating student background knowledge about the 19th century. When was the 19th century? What do you think life was like for people during the 1800’s? What important historical events took place during the 1800’s?

Time line web resources:

3. To help students visualize farm life in the mid 1800’s, use the following Currier and Ives prints, projected on an interactive white board or an LED projector.

For detailed background information on Currier and Ives, visit this web site:

4. Using the following analysis worksheet, have students in pairs or groups of three discuss and analyze at least one of the above prints.

Currier and Ives Lithograph Analysis Worksheet

Name ___________________________________________

Step 1: Observation

a. Study the print for 2 minutes. Form an overall impression of the print and then examine individual items. Next, divide the print into quadrants and study each section to see what new details become visible. Draw what you see below.

Quadrant 1

Quadrant 2

Quadrant 3

Quadrant 4

b. Use the chart below to list people, objects, and activities in the print.



Step 2: Inference
Based on what you have observed, list at least three things you might infer about life in the 19th century from this print.

Step 3: Questions
a. What questions does this print raise in your mind about life in the 19th century? Write them below.

b. Where might you find the answers to your questions?

*Adapted from the National Archives and Records Administration Photo Analysis Worksheet*

5. Discuss the worksheet as a whole group. A chart could be kept in the classroom during the reading of the book titled, “What we know about the 19th century.” Observations could be recorded after the Currier and Ives discussion.

6. A discussion of Laura Ingalls Wilder would also add to the students’ understanding of the book. Some good websites are:

7. Before reading the book, give each student a notebook to be used as a response journal. Read one chapter a day aloud to students. Students will record selected vocabulary from each chapter and their response to a question that corresponds to each chapter.

8. The suggested vocabulary and corresponding meanings should be discussed before the reading of each chapter. Students should make a table in their response journals to record the vocabulary discussion that looks like this:

9. Daily response questions should be written on the board before the reading of the chapter so students can take notes during the reading if they choose.
Suggestions for class discussion after each chapter include:

Differences between Almanzo’s life and theirs

Summarizing of events

Chores Almanzo was expected to do

Student reactions to his life

New things they are learning about 19th century life

Women’s roles

Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Vocabulary and Response Questions

Chapter 1: School Days

Vocabulary: billows, dyed, primer, thrash

Response question: Describe the setting of the book.

Chapter 2: Winter Evening

Vocabulary: buggy, haymow, stock, hoopskirts

Response question: List the character’s names and a trait for each. Use details from the story to back up your ideas.

Chapter 3: Winter Night

Vocabulary: tallow, parlor, muffler

Response question: What did the Wilder family do for entertainment in the evening? How would you occupy yourself without TV?

Chapter 4: Surprise

Vocabulary: impudently, bobsled, swaggered

Response question: Father tells Almanzo, “When a man undertakes a job, he has to stick to it till he finishes it.” Why does he tell him this? Do you agree? Why or why not?

Chapter 5: Birthday

Vocabulary: yoke, curryings, loom

Response question: What did you get for your last birthday? How did you celebrate your birthday? Compare/contrast how Almanzo celebrated his birthday with how you did.

Chapter 6: Filling the Ice-House

Vocabulary: sawdust

Response question: Why were the men cutting ice? Why don’t we do this activity anymore?

Chapter 7: Saturday Night

Vocabulary: immense, eaves, pannikin

Response question: Why didn’t Almanzo like taking baths? Use details from the chapter to back up your answer.

Chapter 8: Sunday

Vocabulary: bonnet, fidget

Response question: Describe Almanzo’s Sunday

Chapter 9: Breaking the Calves

Vocabulary: yoke, solemn

Response question: Describe two character traits of Almanzo and give examples from the chapter.

Chapter 10 : The Turn of the Year

Vocabulary: caldron, fetched

Response question: What three activities were described in the chapter? What was Almanzo’s role in each activity?

Chapter 11: Springtime

Vocabulary: traces, furrows, harrow, sowed, hoe

Response question: What did the Wilders plant? “Almanzo was a little soldier in this great battle.” Explain what this metaphor means.

Chapter 12: Tin-Peddler

Vocabulary: soldered, tin

Response question: How do you obtain things you want/need? How does Almanzo’s mother get the tin ware that she wants? Have you ever gotten anything this way? Explain.

Chapter 13: The Strange Dog

Vocabulary: haunches, blemish, Morgan

Response question: Why was the Wilder family scared? Use details to back up your ideas.

Chapter 14: Sheep Shearing

Vocabulary: shearing, pasture

Response question: Describe two more character traits for Almanzo that are illustrated in the chapter. Back up your ideas with details.

Chapter 15: Cold Snap

Vocabulary: skeins

Response question: Describe all the activities of Almanzo and his family. Identify which family member did what. How did weather affect the family?

Chapter 16: Independence Day

Vocabulary: halters

Response question: Compare/contrast the way Almanzo celebrated July 4th with the way that you celebrate the holiday.

Chapter 17: Summer Time

Vocabulary: idleness, cultivate, churning

Response question: Describe what Almanzo does during the summer.

Chapter 18: Keeping House

Vocabulary: parlor

Response question: Give an example of cause/effect from the chapter.

Chapter 19: Early Harvest

Vocabulary: scythes, grindstone, swathes, windrows, sheaves, shocking

Response question: Explain the statement, using details from the text,
“There was no rest and no play for anyone now.”

Chapter 20: Late Harvest

Vocabulary: poultice

Response question: Write what happened to Almanzo in the potato field in the first person, as if you are Almanzo.

Chapter 21: County Fair

Vocabulary: sulkies

Response question: Summarize Almanzo’s experience at the fair.

Chapter 22: Fall of the Year

Vocabulary: carcass, tallow (review), caldron (review)

Response question: Describe how the Wilders use different parts of the animals they butcher.

Chapter 23: Cobbler

Vocabulary: cobbler, husk, lasts (as in shoe lasts)

Response question: How is getting new shoes different for Almanzo than it is for you? Use details from the chapter to back up your ideas.

Chapter 24: The Little Bobsled

Vocabulary: hewed, auger

Response question: The author describes in detailed steps how Almanzo’s father made a bobsled. Describe how to make something, including at least four steps.

Chapter 25: Threshing

Vocabulary: flail, threshing, pitchfork, chaff

Response question: Almanzo said, “You can depend on me. I’m big enough to take care of you all.” Explain why he said this using details from the chapter.

Chapter 26: Christmas

Vocabulary: switch, scour, garnet, cravat

Response question: Give an example of an internal conflict from the chapter and an external conflict from the chapter. Explain using details from the book.

Chapter 27: Wood-Hauling

Vocabulary: yearlings

Response question: Almanzo had a few problems in this chapter. Describe two of them using details from the book.

Chapter 28: Mr. Thompson’s Pocketbook

Vocabulary: capstan, shinnied, skinflint

Response question: How did Almanzo get $200? What would you do with the money? Use details from the chapter to back up your ideas.

Chapter 29: Farmer Boy

Vocabulary: apprentice

Response question: Infer what you think Almanzo’s decision was – to be an apprentice to Mr. Paddock or to be a farmer like his father. Use details from the chapter to back up your ideas.


Responses can be assessed using the following rubric:




Student shows insight and uses details from the book to support ideas. Response fully answers the question.

Student uses details from the book to support ideas. Response answers the question.

Student attempts to use details from the book but may not be accurate or does not fully address the question.

Student does not use details from the book to support ideas. Response is inaccurate and does not reflect the story or is too short to evaluate.


Vocabulary words are correctly defined. Illustrations show time and care were taken and reflect word meanings.

Vocabulary words are correctly defined and illustrations reflect word meanings.

Vocabulary words may not be correctly defined. Illustrations are messy or do not reflect word meanings.

Vocabulary words are not correctly defined or work is incomplete. Illustrations do not reflect meanings or are missing.


There are no errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, or capitalization. Indenting is evident.

There are a few errors in spelling, capitalization, punctuation, or grammar but the errors do not interfere with communication.

There are many errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, and capitalization that interfere with communication.

The response is unreadable or is too short to evaluate.

Upon completion of the book, students should be asked to complete a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting their life and Almanzo’s.

Post-Visit Activity:

During your visit to the Farm Tools exhibit, students will be encouraged to think about and develop a question they would like to further explore through a historical research project.

Possible questions might include:

What invention during the 1800’s changed farming practice?

What role did women play on the farm?

What is farming like now in Orange County?

What contributions have immigrants played in settling farm land in Orange County?

What is the ‘black dirt’?

How did geography play a role in the development of farms in Orange County?

These projects may take any form, but we suggest using the Big 6 framework for conducting research. Use the link below for more information about the process.

We welcome the sharing of research projects with the museum on our website.

Possible projects:

Create a broadside showcasing an important 19th century farm tool

Create a series of maps showing the development of farming over time in Orange County.

Create a power point presentation showcasing your research

Write a first person diary of a farmer