EXTENDING KANSAS HISTORY INTO OTHER SUBJECT AREAS
Teaching a unit on Kansas history gives teachers a chance to extend the activities of the unit into other subject areas. This plan could work at all levels but is particularly well-suited to the elementary level and middle schools using the team concept. Dave Schroeder of Buhler, Kansas, shared with us his four week contract unit for his seventh grade social studies classes. I am including this in the newsletter. I also appreciate the assistance of the following ESU faculty members: Sam Dicks, professor of history; Joyce Thierer, instructor; and Ken Johnson, professor of chemistry.
One of the minimum requirements is that students trace their family trees back to great-grandparents. An appropriate English assignment for this time period might be to write a biographical sketch of a person on the family tree. Information for the bio would come from personal interviews. Such an assignment gives the student a sense of his/her own family history, practice with a personal interview, and a writing exercise.
One of the superior requirements is to diagram the making of lye soap. Making soap would be a logical experiment for a science class. I am including instructions for making soap and other activities that would hone students' observation skills. As with all science experiments, the scientific method should be emphasized. Written reports about the experiment, including student observations would increase the usefulness of this exercise.
by Dave Schroeder
In the spring of 1990 I created a 4-week contract unit for my seventh grade social studies classes on Kansas history. The contract unit format allowed for individual interests and gave students the opportunity to earn the grade of their choice. The unit generated a great deal of enthusiasm among students and was generally a success.
KANSAS HISTORY CONTRACT UNIT
In this unit, you will be allowed to make some choices about the activities you complete for a grade. Each grade will have a different set of requirements, increasing in number and difficulty for higher grades. You will be working individually and independently. Your personal behavior must not interfere with other students concentration or work. If your behavior becomes a problem, you will be given an alternative assignment. Good luck!
Minimum Requirements (C) - Complete ALL of the following assignments:
Above Average Requirements (B) - Complete ALL the minimum requirements AND five of the above average requirements.
Superior Requirements (A) - Complete ALL the minimum requirements, five of the above average requirements, AND four superior requirements.
You must complete all the requirements for the grade you are attempting. Failure to complete all the assignments required will result in the next lower grade being awarded.
After students have traced their family tree back to great-grandparents, you might give them the opportunity to interview a member of the family and write a record of the interview. This is known as oral history and is a technique often used by historians doing research. A class activity might include a brainstorming session for ideas for questions to be asked. The books listed below would be excellent sources of information for this assignment.
Emily Anne Croom, Unpuzzling Your Past: A Basic Guide to Genealogy, 2nd edition, 1989. Published by Betterway Publications, P.O. Box 219, Crozet, VA 22932.
This is an excellent work for beginners and for high school students. It is extremely easy to read and discusses such basic topics as how to interview relatives, maintain records, understand different systems of dating, read old styles of handwriting, and provides basic bibliographies and lists of research centers.
David E. Kyvig and Myron A. Marty, Your Family History: A Handbook for Research and Writing , 1978. Published by Harlan Davidson, 3110 North Arlington Heights Road, Arlington Heights, IL 60004.
This work by historians encourages the use of photographs and other materials in understanding social history and for placing family in context. Recommended for high school and college students.
Susan Provost Beller, Roots for A Genealogy for Young People , 1989.
This excellent work includes the charts also in Croom and is published by the same publisher. It is for middle-school and high-school age children and emphasizes researching within the family and the community.
Rosemary A. Chorzempa, My Family Tree Workbook: Genealogy for Beginners, 1982. Published by Dover Publications, 31 E. 2nd St., Mineola, NY 11501.
This work is for upper elementary and middle school children. It has blanks to insert photographs and information and emphasizes family and ethnic traditions.
All of the above are paperback. No matter what the grade level taught, the teacher can get excellent ideas from each of them. Teachers should also inquire about materials available from the state historical society and from local historical and genealogical societies.
Making soap is a good way to introduce principles of chemistry to students. This basic necessity was produced almost 5000 years ago from potash (KOH, from wood ashes) and animal fat. The basic hydrolysis of fats or oils is called saponification.
Three basic ingredients are need to make soap--fat, water and lye. Since all types of lye are highly caustic substances that react with plastic, aluminum, and tin, soapmaking utensils should be made of wood, glass, enamel, stainless steel or ceramic. Fat for soapmaking can be almost any pure animal or vegetable oil from reclaimed kitchen grease to castor oil. The water should be soft. You will need the following equipment:
RECIPE FOR SINGLE BAR OF SOAP
1/2 C. cold water, 2 heaping tablespoons commercial lye, 1 cup melted beef tallow, lard, or shortening.
The first step is preparation of lye solution by pouring cold water into an enamelware pot and then slowly adding the lye while stirring with a wooden spoon. The reaction between lye crystals and water will generate temperatures over 200o F. Have both lye solution and fat at about body temperature. Combine the two in a glass bowl and mix slowly and steadily with an egg beater until the consistency is that of sour cream. Pour mixture into mold and cover. Remove soap from molds after 24 hours and leave uncovered in open place four two to four weeks.
Reactions of Soap. Prepare a soap solution using shavings from your bar of soap and 40 mL distilled water. Using the solution, run the following tests. To 5 mL of soap solution in each of three test tubes add 2 mL of 0.1% CaCl2 (calcium chloride) solution to one, 2 mL of MgCl2 (magnesium chloride) to another, and a few drops of dilute HCl (hydrochloric acid) to the last. Calcium and magnesium are two of the hardness ions of hard water. (Iron is the third.) What can you conclude from your observations about the use of soap in hard water? The addition of acid also causes a precipitate to form but for a somewhat different reason. In a fourth test tube add about 1 gram of Calgon water conditioner, which is about 70% sodium tripolyphosphate, to a 5 mL sample of the soap solution. Shake to dissolve and then add 2 Ml of 5% CaCl2 solution and note the difference from the first trial. Repeat the tests with hardness ions and acid using a synthetic detergent such as Dreft, instead of the soap solution. Record the results and compare them with the soap tests. The main advantage of a synthetic detergent in clothes washing detergents should now be apparent--state what it is.