Thursday, June 9, 2016

A Stroll Through History: Days 3 and 4

Day 3
If you want to go back in time, England is the perfect place. It's like living in a big, old antique store. According to my Fitbit, we walked almost twelve miles on day 3 (Wednesday), and every step took us deeper into the past.

We thought before we went to the Museum of London that it would be a good resource for our unit. We were wrong. It was a spectacular resource for our unit. Wow! There was so much information that we couldn't even process it all. Luckily, Coach Williams brought the video camera. We will definitely be watching the videos to take notes. I mean, just look at what we saw even before we went inside the main entrance.

According to the plaque, this is a picture of Mary Godfree's gravestone. Church records show that she died of the plague, and her tombstone was recently found. However, the tombstone was not part of her grave. Someone had taken the stone and used it as material for nearby stone wall. Simon Norfolk, one of the excavators where the stone was discovered noted, "Perhaps 3,000 bodies were in this cemetery's dark earth, just a few feet below the comings and going of millions of commuters but here for once it becomes personal and one individual, Mary Godfree, acquires a name." Wow. All of the sudden our research became personal too. These were real people; people who lived, suffered, and died because they did not understand the disease they faced.

Inside the museum, it had several artifacts from the plague, including a bell. What made this bell special was that it was made by Peter de Weston and was used as a church bell. The church would ring a bell when someone died. Well, Peter's wife and son both died of the plague. Peter most likely made the very bell that tolled to announce the deaths of his wife and son.

I could go on and on and tell you story after story, but we'll have to save some of it for our lessons.

I have a question for you. If you are lost in an unfamiliar city, what are you supposed to do? Give yourself a prize if you answered that you would look for a policeman. After leaving the Museum of London we struck out for St. Bart's Medical Museum. We couldn't find it, but we did find the sweetest policemen along the way. This big teddy bear of man spoke with a Caribbean accent and insisted on personally walking us over to St. Bart's and giving us a tour of other local sites along the way. He pointed out a memorial to Sir William Wallace, locations where the television show Sherlock is filmed, and St. Bartholomew the Great Church, which was built in 1123. When we reached St. Bart's Hospital, he even took the time to show us how the front of the building still shows damage from World War II. The time with him was definitely worth getting lost.
In the afternoon, we went to Tower of London and took a tour conducted by a real Yeoman Warder, otherwise know as a Beefeater. We saw various parts of the castle.
Check out this picture of Coach Williams at the Tower of London.

Then, we headed over to the Globe. The Globe is a reconstructed version of the theater in Shakespeare's time where Shakespeare's plays were performed. Theaters like the Globe were actually blamed for the plague. Some people felt that the plague was the result of sin and that plays were sin. Therefore, they reasoned that the plays caused the plague. The theaters were closed down during outbreaks of the plague, and most actors fled to the country to avoid getting the disease.

Day 4
We made it to Windsor Castle! Remember, we tried to go earlier in the week, but things did not go as planned. Windsor Castle is one of the queen's residences, and the castle has housed members of the monarchy for centuries. While the current queen, Queen Elizabeth II, was not at the castle while we were there, we did learn about another queen, the first Queen Elizabeth, who actually fled to this castle to avoid the plague. We got an interesting glimpse into what it means to be treated like a queen.
We spent the rest of the day driving across the English countryside towards our next stop. We saw so many beautiful old homes! We even saw someone thatching the roof of his house with straw. Can you believe that people in England still have houses with a thatched roof? The houses had thatched roofs during the time period that we are researching, so we even got to see history in action while we were driving. That night, we sat down for some serious lesson planning. We are so excited, and we can't wait to share everything we are learning with the whole school.

Lessons learned: Walking twelve miles in London takes you hundreds of years into the past. Policemen are even better than tour guides. It really does rain a lot in England. It takes a lot of straw and really good balance to thatch a roof. Even queens fear death. Planning this unit is so much fun!


  1. So interesting! I am truly enjoying your adventures through your blog posts!

  2. I am enjoying reading this blog, and I know your students are going to enjoy the lessons you have planned.