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Lesson Ideas for the Rural Michigan Gallery

Social Studies

  • Students can Plan a Classroom Fair and create a group event that includes working on an individual project at home and understanding an event that their ancestors may have experienced and that has continued until today. These activities could be done in conjunction with communication arts classes.
  • Print and read Growing Up on A Michigan Farm in 1890s and selections from the poem The Festival of Industry, or The County Fair with your students. Compare life on a farm in the late 19th century with today in a classroom discussion. Think about work and play, communications and transportation, and community and social life.
  • Use the excerpts from a Farm Diary of Charles Estep, 1884 to stimulate discussion about what it must have been like to be a farmer in the late nineteenth century. What would it have been like to raise crops and care for animals without modern technology? How would the wrok have been similar or different?
  • Visit other rural Michigan links with your students. Discover other resources about farming, fairs, foods and more.


  • Learn how a seed germinates by growing corn, while you discover the role of corn in history.
  • Make a model of a windmill. Learn how they work and why they were (and still are, e.g., "wind turbines") used.


  • Practice simple addition and subtraction with farm images in Farm Math.

Communication Arts

  • Read The Festival of Industry or The County Fair by noted Michigan poet Will Carleton. Arrange the poem as a choral reading for students to perform.
  • Have students write a poem about a trip to the country fair or their favorite Michigan fruit, vegetable or animal.
  • Plan a class about journaling. Have students keep a diary about school. Have them include the weather, the classes they take, the various special events. Have a discussion about what it was like to keep a journal and how their journals compare to that of Charles Estep.
  • In addition to having students read excerpts from Charles Estep's diary, have them read A Michigan Civil War Physician's Diary. Have a discussion about writing down thoughts and activities on a daily basis. Have students compare and contrast the different styles of writing down one's thoughts.

Contact the Michigan Historical Museum.

Updated 08/05/2010

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