Constitution is a busy ship, and work fills almost every minute of a sailor’s day. But from time to time, the captain grants a few hours of leisure to those men not on watch. When they gather on the forecastle, the normally strict routine and discipline of a fighting ship slackens a little. There’s time to tell a tall story, or listen to one; to read a letter; to mend clothes; and perhaps to dance to a fiddler’s tune.
19th Century Dice Games
Follow these instructions for the 19th century game “Going to Boston” using real dice in the classroom.
Chart a 24-Hour Day
Using graph paper, students create a chart to log their 24-hour routine. Make sure they include their free time, with at least 3 ideas of what they like to do for fun. Do their fun activities include something the average Constitution sailor couldn’t do like playing video games or talking on the phone? Have them brainstorm and reflect: what are the differences between a sailor’s life and their own? Using the sailor’s Daily Routine Chart, have students compare and contrast them on a simple table, noting the amount of hours (and convert to percentages!) of sleep, chores, school, and leisure time.
With your students, enjoy some fun fill-in-the-blank creativity. Download fill-in-the-blank stories and have students include their own nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. Take it further and have students create their own fill-in-the-blank tall tale, and exchange with a classmate to fill them out.
John Lord’s Powderhorn
John Lord’s engraved powderhorn was designed to carry gunpowder, but it is a special memento of one sailor’s service. The symbols he used to decorate were all chosen with care. By closely observing them, can your students decode what Lord’s job on Constitution was? He was a gunner! He made this on board Constitution in the 1820s. Lord decorated the horn with nautical images, included cannons and cannonballs, an anchor and chain, a flag, and a scene of “Old Ironsides” in battle. Have your students try the art of etching out: using a bar of soap and toothpicks or forks, students etch an image, a favorite activity, their name, etc. into the soap.