Puritan Day

In his book, Teach Like a Pirate, Dave Burgess challenges teachers, asking if there are any lessons they teach that they believe their students would buy tickets to attend. Are there any lessons that are so engaging and full of learning and fun that students would actually pay to learn? That is a really convicting question, because for me, there aren’t very many.

One lesson I believe my students would pay for is the Puritan School Day Lesson.


I have my room all set up in rows of chairs (which I had to go beg, borrow and steal since I don’t have very many in my classroom this year.) When I had desks I moved them to the side. Each chair has a sticky note with a student’s name on it. (This is definitely an assigned seats kind of activity.)

We bring the students in two rows, one boys and one girls. They find their assigned spot and we go over the rules for the day:

1. Students do not speak unless spoken to by a teacher.

2. Student will stand when answering a question.

3. Boys sit on one side, girls on the other.

4. There is no recess, time should be spent working.

5. When you go home, you will do your chores and memorize your lessons.


By this point in the lesson, the students’ eyes are really big and slightly frightened wondering what’s going on.

Here are the activities I had planned for the lesson:

Hornbook = copying. I typed up an outline of the most important facts from the textbook chapter for the students to copy multiple times. with notes to copy from the textbook


Primer= memorizing. Students had to read and memorize sayings such as: Be you to others kind and true, as you’d have others be to you: and neither do nor say to men, what’re you would not take again.

Stitchery= plastic canvas sewing. We gave each student a 4×4 inch square of plastic canvas, a plastic needle and one piece of yarn to make any kind of pattern they wanted. The boys struggled with this.


Writing with quill and ink: cursive practice. We gave the students toothpicks and had them tape a feather to the top to make their quill and then dip in in black paint to try to write their name in cursive. It is trickier than it sounds. I carefully monitored this station to watch the paint.


Here is my lovely student aide who was taking pictures for me 😉


I was dressed in my best, most boring puritan garb: full skirt, hair in a bun, glasses, no jewelry. IMG_3187


Oddly enough, the part that my students always like the best are the school punishments. (I must admit, it’s kind of fun to get to dish these out 😉

This is a very strict lesson. It must be absolutely silent for the whole lesson, and normally my students start snickering and mess around a bit and then they get to experience some (heavily modified) 13 colony punishments. But this year my students were perfect little angles! They didn’t talk or mess around at all! I was a little bummed and really thankful for my well behaved class. So when we got to the last 10 minutes, I asked the kids who wanted to try a colony punishment and we just had a good time and laughed about them a lot.

Here is a students with their nose on a dot on the whiteboard and they are not allowed to move.


Students had to wear signs that said “Idle Fool.” These two begged me to let them wear the signs all day, even after the lesson was over.



I walk around the classroom with a ruler in my hand, as if I were ready to knock any disrespectful student on the head or knuckles, not that I actually do. I do want to keep my job 😉

It is a really fun lesson that gives the kids a much better picture of puritan life and makes them appreciate the kind of school we have today.


Are there any lessons you teach that you could sell tickets to? 


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