The Stone Wall Initiative
Introduction - History - Investigating Walls
Marble tombstone from southern Vermont.
A stone wall can bring history alive for students, who might just like an excuse to be outdoors.
Most students, by the time they reach middle school, have come to realize that old stone walls were built by early New Englanders. But very few students few (especially urban ones) have made the connection between the physical presence of the walls and the abstractness of their history books. Making this connection can bring history alive as compellingly as dressing in colonial costume.
Reconstructing History: Have your students walk up a stone wall in the woods, observe what they see, and reconstruct a sequence of events. Whether they can see it or not, the basic sequence is usually:
Dating the Wall: Knowing the age of town settlement and the time when the farms were abandoned gives them a sence of how old or how young the wall could be. Plug this into the history lessons.
Local History: Ask them who built the walls, then go from there. They will find out that their town residents were part of the big picture.
Back to Investigations.