Friday, July 15, 2011


Every now and then I teach a little class at summer school called Back in Time with American Girls.  BITWAG for short. (Okay, nobody else calls it BITWAG but it makes me feel like I'm hip ;)

It was a lot of work but also a lot of fun.  I had two sections of the class, one for the younger students grade 1-3 (which turned out to be K-3 and is not a class grouping I would recommend!) and another for grades 4-6.  The younger girls class had a lot of needy non-reading types (I thought they were just being lazy; they wouldn't take any notes and it took me about half an hour to figure out that some of them were younger than the course requirement! Oh well!  We can be flexible!  That's where my lovely and able teaching assistant Ally came in!!

Day one:  Kaya 1764 Pacific Northwest - Since Kaya is from the Nez Perce tribe, we made real corn husk dolls like Kaya's.  I read Chapter 1 from Kaya's Hero" while the girls worked on "teekas" (cradleboards).  The 18th century version of a baby backpack!  One of the girls even went so far as to take her doll home and print out a face for it (shown below)!
Teekas or cradleboard used by the Nez Perce; hockey jersey and stick not part of the tribal outfit LOL

Day two:  Felicity 1774 Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia - I brought turkey feathers and made Kool-aid ink (nonsweetened packets mixed with a little water) so the girls could practice writing like Felicity did.  They copied this bit of wisdom from book 2, Felicity Learns a Lesson as I read Chapter 2.

Think ere you speak
for Words, once flown,
Once utter'd, are
no more your own.

Kool-aid ink worked well, was easy & cheap to make, and I highly recommend strawberry and berry blue!  Be sure not to water it down too much, if you want the color to be dark and to not fade.
(Smells delightful, too!)

 The girls also made tussie-mussies for their dolls, just like colonial girls & ladies carried around for good looks and good smells :)

We dug into my tiny plastic flower/lace/ribbon stash & used hair bands to attach to the dolls' wrists

Day three:  Rebecca 1914 New York City - Since Rebecca comes from a Russian Jewish immigrant family, we made miniature dreidels to celebrate her Jewish heritage.  I read Chapters 1 and 2 from Meet Rebecca while the girls made & played with their dreidels, using Skittles for markers!
a good close-up of the dreidel in one hand and tussie-mussie in the other!

We also watched an online short story of "The Wise Little Girl" (or "Clever Karina") which Rebecca and her actor-cousin Max acted out for their family in book one.
 The dreidels were a bit difficult to make (I had copied a mini-dreidel onto blue construction paper), but the Skittles were worth it!
 Day four:  Julie 1974 San Francisco, California - This is where I got a little nostalgic because I grew up in the 70s and 80s!  I wore a 70s-style sleeveless shirt dress, tied a scarf around my neck and put on a headband to add to the "ambience".  The girls dressed up & brought their dolls in (any doll, I am not a big promoter of spending $90 plus on American Girl dolls) in for a 70s fondue party.  Since Julie's family had a fondue party in one of their books, I bought a pot from Goodwill, dug out some skewers, and made some easy cheese and white chocolate fondue.  We had so much fun on the last day of class, watching an excellent 5-minute 70s slideshow from Youtube that showed the music, entertainers, TV shows, movies, toys, hairstyles, clothes, and fads of the 70s.  I did a little research and brought in our board games that were introduced in the 70s:  Rack-o, Life, Battleship, Connect Four, Yahtzee (and I could have brought in Clue & Monopoly too, but didn't think we'd have time for them).  Turns out we only had time for much, as the girls made pet rocks and spent most of the time eating and talking.  For the older girls' class we made bandana halter tops for & head scarves for our dolls.  I actually did wear something like this when I was a little girl!

Mikayla (from younger class) showing off her pet rock & one of our dolls with the homemade halter top & matching head scarf...we just started with a 10" square and went from there!

The Fondue Party was kind of hectic but fun.  I cheated and used the microwave to melt the white chocolate before I put it in the fondue pot.  I borrowed a miniature crock pot for the cheese fondue (using milk instead of wine or beer, of course!) and told the girls how moms in the 1970s relied on crock pots to make supper.  Julie's mom worked outside of the home, and a lot more of that was happening as I was growing up.  I can remember what a big deal it was when my mom actually started working outside of our home; I was in 4th grade when she started driving school bus.  I wouldn't consider myself a latch-key kid because my dad (a farmer) was home when we came home from school, and it was empowering to see my mom working and making a little extra spending money for our family.  Liberation in moderation, I call it ;)

Of course, the girls brought their dolls to the party, too!
Ally was a HUGE help all week, running the computer / smart board and assisting where needed.  Wynne ran a lot of errands for me as well, helping one little girl carry her things to her next class and bringing in her baby Gloria for "demonstrations".

The whole week was a blur of last-minute lesson adjustments, late night planning and crafting, but it was fun and a good way for me to work on my teaching skills!  I hope to teach BITWAG again next summer!

Shae & Selena with their new Pet Rock

Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.--Proverbs 20:11


Anonymous Mary Beth Raether said...

Amy, You never cease to amaze me!

July 15, 2011 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Geez Mary Beth, I am humbled. I love lesson planning and working with kids, hoping to re-enter the teaching force day sometime soon! If only it didn't take up so much outside time. People who haven't taught don't realize the prep hours involved, do they?

July 16, 2011 at 5:35 AM  

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