These activities for Life at Sea were updated in late 2008 and early 2009, along with the Learning Results.
Ideas to try...
English Language Arts
Signal flags were symbols for letters. Encode spelling words, etc. using self-constructed worksheets with colored flags. What other symbols help us communicate in special situations?
Reading and writing activities could incorporate some letters and diaries from families at sea; for example, see the collection of Colcord family letters in the book Letters from Sea. Original source materials such as this one offer opportunities for students to distinguish between fact and interpretation, as well as opportunities to talk about prior knowledge—are there parts of these diaries and letters that assume prior knowledge on the part of the reader? How is this issue dealt with by the compiler, in the case of Letters from Sea? How can the reader deal with it when reading an original letter or diary?
Writing assignments can include original creations of diaries, letters from sea or elsewhere, and descriptions of the culture and geography of ports visited. In giving presentations, students may use a map and/or photo to supplement their report on a foreign port, or a specific vessel or family.
Give directions to a partner to craft a shellwork box or tie a knot. Make it a barrier game—see how hard it is to use language to describe a process without visuals.
Find some words that have become standard in English that originated in the Age of Sail?
Health and Physical Education
Some traded items were related to health. Compare medicine and ideas of health in the 19th century to present-day, both in the U.S. and other parts of the world.
What would it have been like to walk on the deck of a ship, compared to walking on land? Try to play a game while pretending to be on a slanting deck or rolling ship. Simulate the deck with a board propped up on one side to create a slant, or by using a balance board while playing ball. Why did children sometimes have to learn to walk all over again after living on a ship for a long time? Discuss balance and the inner ear.
Compare the necessities of daily life—food, shelter, and clothing—on board ship and ashore, and in past and present-day Maine.
Describe the governing system used on board ships. Why is it not a democracy?
Children at sea visited many foreign countries and saw cargoes being loaded and unloaded. Choose a product of either Maine or a foreign port and investigate how it was produced.
Math problems may involve calculating how long a ship would take to travel a certain distance at a certain speed; capacity of the ship and size of cargo; weight of cargoes; etc.
The United States has always traded with other countries. Choose one and learn about its trade history with our country. Relate trade history to maps, the physical features of a country, money and barter, and cities and settlement patterns. If you were a Maine sea captain arriving in a foreign port, what would you need to know about right away?
Visual and Performing Arts
Learn a sea shanty. Write an original shanty to accompany a modern-day task.
Art projects may include carving, shell art, sewing, knots, needlework, painting. Create and execute original maritime designs in several different media. How did decorative arts help carry a sense of community aboard Maine vessels as they traveled around the world?