The School Days program recreates a late 19th century school day in the original 1877 one room Nassakeag Schoolhouse. The program provides students the opportunity to discover what life was like in a rural 19th century Long Island community and compare it to today. Through discussion, role-play and hands-on activities in an historic classroom, students learn about the history of schools and school communities.

What should my class do before we visit?

  1. Set the stage for your class: discuss 19th century farming communities, the role of family members in various aspects of farm life, the importance of seasons.
  2. Consider asking children to dress in a post-Civil War style. Many boys wore short pants or knickers with suspenders, a button down shirt and a straw hat. Girls wore dresses below the knee, low boots, an apron or shawl and a straw hat or bonnet.
  3. Plan to bring lunches, but remind students that, in the 19th century, the noon meal was called “dinner.” Students may wish to bring food and drinks similar to those that children carried to school more than 100 years ago.
  4. Prepare the New England Johnny Cake recipe that is included and bring it as part of your “dinners.” Keep in mind which foods might be available on Long Island. Children enjoy carrying their “dinners” in baskets, tin pails or tied in cloth. Try to avoid modern packaging.
  5. Have the class memorize the poem “The Johnny Cake” (see below). Memorization and recitation were common 19th century teaching methods. Time will be set aside to hear the recitation of the poem.

Become familiar with the following vocabulary:

Harvest – the gathering of crops
Kindling – small pieces of wood used to start a fire
Copy book – notebook used for penmanship practice
Slate – small board made of slate
Buck Saw – An H shaped saw that can be used by two people
Scratch or Dip pen – metal tipped ink pen

What should my class do after the visit?

Review the class photo from the Nassakeag Schoolhouse.  Who were you when you visited us today?


School Master (far left):   Ben Robinson.

Students from left to right.

Windows:   Kate Wood, Sarah Rowland, Maud Smith, Sadie Danbury, Olive Darling

Third Row:   Flossie Winters, Annie Fallon, Cleveland Davis, Ralph Hawkins, George Beach, Lillie Davis, Will Calahan, Rom Hawkins, Henry Rowland

Second Row:   Laura Rowland, Eslie Davis, Bessie Freeman, Jennie Freeman, William Pfeifer, Edward Beach, Manley Smith, Warren Rowland

Front Row:   Ben Pheifer, Ed Calahan

The Johnny Cake
This is the seed,
So yellow and round,
That little John Horner hid in the ground.
These are the husks,
With satin inlaid,
That grew ’neath the tassels that drooped and
These are the leaves,
So graceful and tall,
That grew from the seed so yellow and small
This is the silk,
In shining threads spun:
A treasure it hides from the frost and the sun.
This is the stalk
That came up between
The leaves so pretty and graceful and green.
This is the treasure, —
Corn yellow as gold, —
That satin and silk so softly unfold.
These are the tassels,
So flowery, that crowned
The stalk, so smooth, so strong, and so round.
This is the cake,
For Johnny to eat,
Made from the corn so yellow and sweet.