I had six grades, not including fourth or sixth if I remember right, and only thirteen or fourteen pupils. There was a “recitation bench” near the teacher’s desk so that she could call each class up to recite. There were only 5 to 7 minutes for each class depending on the number of grades. Some classes such as civics and physiology had to be divided into twice a week and three times a week.
On Fridays, after the last recess, we would have a spelling bee or map hunt or ciphering match. On the map hunts, a young child would sit down with an older one and someone would write the name of a town, river or mountains on the board and the rest of the school children would try to be the first to find it on the map in the geography book.
If there were any exceptionally bright older children who had time, you could let them take a younger one aside to help him with his reading, etc. Fourth and fifth-graders could drill first and second graders on flash cards. Crossword puzzles were good for older pupils after finishing lessons.
Often a bright child’s education was enhanced by attending a one-room school. The young ones, as they came up in grades, could get facts and ideas firmly entrenched in their minds by listening to the older classes recite and by watching them work math on the blackboard so that it came very easy to them when they reached the higher grades. The old principle of repetition worked very well here.
One class that I held two or three times a month was on diacritical markings. Many grown people say they never learned in school how to pronounce words from the markings used in the dictionary.
In March I let the eighth graders know that I would expect a summary of each of their subjects to be written up on several pages of notebook paper along with illustrations and finished with an attractive cover for display on a table to be turned in two weeks before the end of school.
Their “graduation” depended on their good summaries and grades, of course.
Crystal Bennett Edwards
Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.