Kay, V., & Rand, T. (ill.) (2003). Homespun Sarah. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons. ISBN: 9780399234170
Annotation: This poem follows Sarah around her family’s early 18th Century farm in Pennsylvania. She helps her mother with the daily chores: cooking, cleaning, watching the younger children and making any supplies they use.
Reaction: The author has an informative author’s note before the poem, which helps understand and recognize some of the chores Sarah has to perform. Kay does a great job of writing about what life would have been like on a farm in the 1700’s, and Rand’s illustrations perfectly complement her words. The pictures clearly depict what Sarah’s daily life actually might have been like, and the paintings are beautiful.
I would use this book as a part of a 5th and 6th grade history unit. I think it would be fun to bring in people to demonstrate some of the chores Sarah does in the book, and, as a knitter, my first thought was for a wool carding/spinning demonstration. It would be a fun learning experience, and the class could possibly make their own drop spindles out of dowel rods and cd’s. See lesson plan below.
Media Used: Traditional transparent watercolors, with acrylic medium, on ragstock paper.
Grade Level: 5th-6th
Subject/Content: History/daily life
Summary of Lesson: Experience what it might have been like to live on a farm in the 1700’s.
Focus Question: What would life on an 18th Century farm be like?
Books/websites used: Homespun Sarah by Verla Kay
Make an Awesome Drop Spindle
–>Read Homespun Sarah
–>Discuss differences between her daily life & students’
–>Give students an opportunity to handle roving and discuss how it goes from that to clothes
–>Watch a spinning demonstration from a local Spinning Guild member, both with a spinning wheel and drop spindle
–>Teacher will have polymer clay pre-baked and starter holes pre-drilled in chopsticks
–>Give students drop spindle supplies and instruction and allow them to assemble and decorate
–>Give students a lesson on drop spindling and let them practice spinning
–>Group discussion of ideas and historical context
–>Imagining situations other than their own
–>Following instructions for spindle assembly and spinning
–>Hands on experience of one aspect of 18th century life