Social Studies and History
The pieces of furniture featured in this module are all nineteenth century pieces 1825 to 1889. The
timeline on the front page helps to place them. It can also help to place the pieces in the lifetime of
famous people studied in history, such as Abraham Lincoln. The styles can be compared to those
seen in local historic houses in your area. The furniture styles owned by prominent or less promi-
nent people are not just props. They reflect the status, the attitudes, the aspirations, the craftsman-
ship (in some cases), and the care that the owners felt.
The activity on identification of objects can be used with any object to study social and industrial
history. It is fun for students to bring in an object from home and see how much they can learn about
the object, owners, and society from it. They can use the WWW to find out background information
on manufacture, use, price, and other topics.
Several language arts activities are included. One is to write a first `person' narrative from the point
of view of a piece of furniture, taken from The Story of an Old Piano written by the daughter-in-law
of Helen Gilchrist, the owner of the piano. The second is a description of a piece of furniture using
vocabulary-building adjectives that can be as simple or sophisticated as suits your students.
Grade levels of Activities
Younger children can recognize differences among styles and talk about aspects such as size, shape,
color, and motif. The mantel is appropriate to use with elementary students because of its pictorial
designs of Adam and Eve and fruit and flowers in its many panels. Students could produce a colored
drawing of an original design made up of panels of fruit and flowers and/or a scene of a story.
Symbolism could be introduced.
Newspaper and catalog ads (such as those that come in the mail) are good sources for images of
furniture sold today. The comparison activity that asks students to find motifs similar to those on the
furniture in the module can be used in grades as low as fifth and sixth.
Resources on Furniture Styles
This wonderful virtual exhibit of a Swedish arts and Crafts House
features comparisons of styles and showing contexts for design in an interactive format. You need to
click on "the crypt" to reach the archived virtual exhibits, the on the "Larsson Exhibit" (window
will pop up) when you arrive at this Explorer section of the complicated new Victoria & Albert
Museum Web site.