Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Princess Mary Gift Box

During the first months of World War I, most of the participants hoped the war would be over by Christmas.

Because it was the first year of the war, 1914, Princess Mary, daughter of King George V and Queen Mary, thought of sending each soldier a special gift. A special brass box was designed with a side profile picture of Princess Mary, along with the names of the various allies, including France, Russia, Belgium, Japan, Serbia and Montenegro. It is interesting to note that the Lusitania carried a large shipment of brass destined to be made for the gift boxes when it was sunk in 1915.

What was in the box? Chocolate, a writing pad, a small pencil, a greeting card and cigarettes. The ingredients varied according to who received them: nurses got chocolates, and soldiers from India received sweets. In 1996 (before the internet!), I came across one in an antique store in Calgary, Alberta where I was teaching school. I was able to buy it for my daughter (named Mary) but also for my students to see.

Students in 9th grade were able to do a brass rubbing from the Queen Mary gift box, a death medal from World War I, and a small piece of trench art (in this case a matchbook holder) during their World War I centers.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Good times at Faye Wright Elementary

In our 11th grade classes, students just finished learning about the circumstances behind the Cuban Missile Crisis. All students were attentive and interested in how close we came to nuclear war.

Of course, as a child of the Cold War, I can remember doing drills that were very different than the average fire drill. We had to line up inside the hallway and get down on our knees and put our hands over our head.

The worst part was that was a time when we girls still wore dresses or skirts to school. I can remember one hand on my head and the other trying to pull my dress down! I was going to protect myself from a nuclear bomb by following the drill, but the drill position was awkward.
I can also remember talking with my two older brothers about whether Salem, Oregon was targeted to have a bomb dropped on it....we were pretty sure it was, if the population of our town got above 100,000.

I am so glad my students don't have to live with the fear of nuclear war!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Viva la Vida! Revolutions 1848 and 2011...

Coldplay's recent album includes the song, Viva la Vida. The lyrics are compelling. In the video on youtube that accompanies the song, we see Chris Martin, the lead singer, performing to the backdrop of two famous revolutionary paintings: Gericault's Raft of the Medusa and Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People. As we continue to see the events unfold in Egypt, AP Euro students will be analyzing this song's lyrics and the similarities among the revolutionaries of 1848 and Egypt 2011.

I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own

I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemy's eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing
"Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!"

One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand

I hear Jerusalem bells a-ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field