1. Working together we are going to write down a list of the characteristics of nineteenth century childhood and then we’re going to describe our own. When we compare the two lists, we will get a sense of how American life for children has changed over the last century and a half.
2. Have the students take their sheet of notebook paper and fold it vertically. Place the fold to the right with the open edges to the left. Label [near the top of the paper] this half of the sheet “Then.” Turn the paper over so that the “Then” side is down and the fold is now on the left and the open edges are on the right. Label this side “Now.” Make the crease hard and crisp, then open the page. The “Then” list will be on the left side and the “now” list will be on the right.
3. On the “Now” side, have students list their favorite activities, games, toys, entertainment—anything that they can remember up to this point in their lives.
4. Using the biography and the websites below, have students individually list the childhood things noted in both of these sources. These can be games, toys, entertainment, activities--anything that pertains to childhood.
5. Have students circle the items that are identical or very similar. These will be written on the Venn diagram sheet where the two circles intersect. The other items will be written on either the “Then” circle or the “Now” circle, whichever one is appropriate.
6. Time should be allocated for sharing of findings and commentary on whether or not students would prefer life then or life now.