Come On In and Sit Right Down!
|Prairie School No. 1, Sheldon, IA, has two doors: one for boys and one for girls.|
Let’s open the door on a one-room school.
Boys and girls often entered through separate doors—boys on the left, girls on the right. Once inside, you’ll pass through the coat closet.
|Bonnets hang at Shoen School, Gibbs Farm Museum, St. Paul, MN.|
Girls will hang their aprons and bonnets on hooks at one side. Boys will perch their hats on the other.
|Aprons & lunch buckets at the Marshall Center School, Cedar Rapids, IA.|
Leave your lunch bucket, often a recycled container for lard, or pig fat, there as well. Otherwise, the yummy smells of food will be simply too distracting.
|Lard bucket lunch pails, Farmington, MN|
|A well-equipped schoolhouse will have a bubbler in the coat closet.|
Once you enter the classroom, find your seat quickly. You’ll notice that both the desks and chairs are bolted down. Most often, this is done to keep the classroom orderly and quiet.
|Bolted to the floor, this school desk & chair combo never scrapes.|
If you’ve ever scraped your own chair along the floor, then you can probably understand why someone screwed down these desk and chairs.
If you see a single empty seat or bench at the front of the room, facing the desks, you’d better not sit there…
…unless Teacher says so.
|A scholar works on her lessons at the one-room school in Balsam Lake, WI.|
Called the “recitation bench,” this is where you wait for your turn to recite, or say out loud, the lessons you’ve memorized.
Before Teacher gets started with roll call and the pledge to the flag, look around and get your bearings. Don’t worry. It won’t take long.
|Desks at Sholes Pioneer School await scholars of all sizes. The biggest ones will sit in the back.|
A one-room schoolhouse only has enough space for 25 or 30 scholars. Most schools have fewer students than that, ranging in age from four or five to eighteen—or even twenty.
|Abecedarians (kindergartners) work on their ABCs.|
What you’d call a kindergartner is an abecedarian, someone whose job is to learn the alphabet. Most often, the youngest pupils sit at the front of the class in the smallest desks. The oldest sit at the back, where the desks and chairs are roomier.
So come right in. Take a seat. Lessons are about to begin!
Could you survive in a one-room schoolhouse eighty or one hundred years ago? One-RoomNation, an on-going segment of the Story-Slinger blog, will try to answer that question in a few dozen posts. Unless otherwise noted, the photos in One-Room Nation are the property of the blogger, so please contact the Story-Slinger if you wish to use them.