These are my notes from a presentation titled “A Matter Called Revolution: Abigail Adams and Recreating History for the Young Child Through Storytelling” on February 2, 2008, at the Oklahoma 2008 State Superintendent’s Social Studies and Fine Arts Conference. The theme of this year’s conference is, “Revolutionary Matters.” This presentation by Sheri Admire, a teacher at Soldier Creek Elementary School in Midwest City (Mid-Del Public Schools) had the following conference program description:

John Adams claimed that the “Revolution begain in the minds of Americans before any shots were fired or blood shed.” Hear Abigail Adams describe her husband’s vision of independence, as she maintains a home and family. Participants will explore how American history events may be woven through elementary PASS curriculum objectives.

Sheri attended the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute last year
– has been studying Abigail Adams as a character for the past year
– got started because she wanted to become someone

I teach K-5 special education
– students with all sorts of disabilities
– I needed to do something to get their attention
– it is great for you to do this

sadmire [at] mid-del [dot]

if you want to become a character of interest, what are you interested in? what are you excited about?

Creating a storytelling idea
– brainstorm an idea you like to do
– read, read, read: research the topic and outline your thoughts
– determine grade level abilities and modalities of elarning
– immerse yourself with the sotry, BECOME ALIVE with the subject matter

what are you passionate about that children will “gaze with wonder” as you speak

who or what interests you?

don’t just read about your character
– read about others to get different perspectives
– it spins off into different directions
– read books of constume and stage presentatons, storytelling info, children’s books
– read about children during the time period of your story idea

vocabulary buddies
– I believe the higher the vocabulary, the easier it is for kids to understand
– build better vocabulary
– determine modalities of learning
– nurture the style – learning styles – multiple intelligences

observe learning styles of students
– how aer they proessing information
– how are they smart, students are smart in many ways
– nurture those unique styles of learning
– this is applicable to general education as well

I am on a hot air balloon team, so this picture is great!

immerse yourself with the story
– what are your interests with the subject matter?
– what excites you about the story?
– become one with the story
– what interests your students?
– what stories excite your students?
– students become participants with the story
– students become the story

Abigail really got things done behind the scenes with John Adams

rehearse your story
– I have been working for the past 5 months to create that 7 minute presentation

find a friend to rehearse your story with, share all the elements and styles

reearch the PASS objectives
– review for language arts, reading, or other skills
– align objectives with your presentation
– have fun!
– review your presentation!

If you are able, videotape your preso
– share the video with your students when appropriate
– your students will really enjoy this

Writing prompts
– provide exiciting points about your presentation, character traits, historical action events, or historical facts
– select vocabulary (1-3 words) to emphasize and create a picture dictionary
– develop a simple sentence structure; expand with student knowledge levels
– post and share with others, present orally to parents
– develop a “student book” of character writings

I love Abigail Adams because of her curiosity, lacked formal education but read voraciously

her letters are online

died at 74, which was a VERY

advocated public education for girls equal to boys

other character: Temperence Flowerdew
– 1609 Sea Venture departs England
– Sea enture encounters a storm and wrecks
– wrecks on Bermuda, 200-300 men, women and children
– only 60 survivors of “the starving time”
– had recipie for sea biscuits
– she does survive and later marries George Yeardley, 1st colony governor, became one of the richest…

Books that I have:
– Dearest Friend, Lynne Withey, 1981
– Abigail and John by Butterfield, Friedlaender, and Kline, 1975
– John Adams, David McCulough, 2001
America’s Women, 400 years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines, 2003

I also attended George Washington Teachers’ Institute last year, it was amazing and life changing
– grants are available from multiple sources to go on these study trips

I did not know a lot about history beyond what I had studied in high school and college, but BOY am I learning a lot now!

Have a custodian that is helping with British accent

Abigail is in the movie 1776

HBO special is about to come out as a 6 hour miniseries about John and Abigail Adams

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One Response to A Matter Called Revolution: Abigail Adams and Recreating History for the Young Child Through Storytelling

  1. diane says:

    If anyone is considering duplicating this type of colonial experience, I would also recommend:

    -sharing appropriate snacks, like molasses cookies or snickerdoodles

    -having simple costumes for the children to try on (my husband and I did storytelling in the L.George region, and this was a very popular activity, especially when the kids posed for pictures with us)

    -including other interactive activities, like taking notes on a school slate or making a simple tied rag doll

    There are many knowledgeable reenactors from all historical periods who would love to speak to classes and/or provide information to teachers.


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