Academic Subjects

Reading, writing and arithmetic were the basic subjects in school as they are today. In primary schools, arithmetic was taught first through oral lessons and Colburn's First Lessons in Arithmetic, followed by the use of Thomson's Primary Arithmetic. Youngsters were taught to perform simple examples of rules for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division using the blackboard or individual slates.

Learning to write the letters of the alphabet was practiced in much the same manner as learning numbers. Girls often learned the alphabet through making a sampler. Cursive writing came later.

The standardization of spelling was still evolving in the 19th century, so spelling instruction was inconsistent. Inspired by Noah Webster's book referred to as "The Blue-backed Speller", spelling bees became an integral part of the school curriculum during this period. A contest where participants must spell a word correctly in front of everyone, the practice was popular with some, but not with all students. Laura missed out on this!

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Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association