We started our exploration of “Canada: Then” by looking at how early European settlers transitioned from their country to the frontier, and considered the challenges they would have faced.
To help our students imagine this, we read literature told from the perspective of a young Canadian pioneer child, other nonfiction texts, participated in drama activities, and cooked pioneer food, i.e., traditional European peasant food.
We researched information about the settlements, clothing they would have worn, food they would have eaten and what their daily life would have been like.
All of this was then compared to our current life.
We applied our numeracy skills in context to think about weight of supplies they would have needed and how many kilograms of food they would have needed to survive.
As part of our culminating project, we presented an area of interest to the class.
The latter part of our “Canada: Then” theme focused on the past discriminatory government policies and actions, specifically the residential schools, Japanese internment camps, use of minority groups for physical labour and the expansion of the CPR, and the Chinese Head Tax.
As a whole group, we read the novel “Fatty Legs”, true story of an Inuit girl’s experience in a residential school.
We then went on to read several picture books about residential school, as well as Chinese railway workers, and Japanese internment camps.
We used diary entries, one from a Chinese railway worker in the Canadian west, and a Japanese-Canadian girl from East Vancouver whose family was sent to an internment camp to help us create a short graphic novel depicting the discrimination they would have faced.
This group project required us to collaborate, summarize a story, synthesize our understanding of the problems past immigrants would have faced, take on the perspective of these people through drama, and be able to present our understanding.