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.
          1. 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.
          1. 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.
          1. 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.
          1. Have the class memorize the poem “The Johnny Cake” (grades 2 and 3), or “The Village Blacksmith” (Grades 4 and up). Both poems are included here. 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
Diary – a daily record of events and observations

            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.


The Village Blacksmith
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Under a spreading chestnut tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.
He goes on Sunday to the church,
And sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach;
He hears his daughter’s voice
Singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice.
His hair is crisp, and black, and long;
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat;
He earns whate’er he can;
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.
It sounds to him like her mother’s voice,
Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more,
How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
A tear out of his eyes.
Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell
When the evening sun is low.
Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close;
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night’s repose.
And children, coming home from school,
Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge,
And hear the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing-floor.
Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou has taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought.