We had so much fun last month working on a Florence Nightingale theme. I think they were into it for about 6 weeks, or maybe longer. We read everything we could get our hands on from the children's/youth section at the library. I put everything on hold and it all comes in really fast. There is so much, both non-fiction and historical fiction about her, I was really surprised. One of my favorite parts about doing this kind of learning is that we are always discussing how the biographies differ—what is left out, or over-simplified or conflicting information. Florence had a pretty troubled relationship with her parents and sister and the pressure to marry and this was fascinating to learn about for all of us. As was the concept of nursing being an unfit profession for a lady at that time.
All three girls get into the themes in different ways, but they all were intrigued by the filth and horrible conditions of many hospitals at the time of the Crimean War. There was much discussion of rats, raw sewage, and hand washing.
We did a play at the end of this theme. Well, not really a play but, what do you call this—live role paying? Sadie appeared in costume as Florence Nightingale and explained all about her life and answered questions from the audience (which included her parents and Grammie) while her trained nurses administered medicines and treatments to their injured soldiers.
We made the costumes up super fast. I wanted to sew new costumes, of course, but I didn't want to lose the momentum we had going and it's pretty fun using what we have in creative ways. So they wore prairie dresses I had sewn them last year and added nurse caps. Florence wore a long skirt of mine pinned in back and a velvet blazer she had—it's all about the hair and lace cap with Florence anyway, and the lamp, which her dad made from paper about 2 minutes before the show.
Before the performance Sadie took notes and thought about what she would say about her life and I told her the types of questions we would ask. She was so great off-the-cuff and her ability to remember all the details about Florence's life was pretty impressive. Delia corrected her a few times, which was cool to.
It made me realize how much learning we do by talking. All day we talk about what we are learning, and discuss specific details of who we are learning about. They are really comfortable talking about the facts of history and also about how the people we learn about may have felt. We talk a lot about emotions and reenact a lot. It's pretty amazing to watch this kind of learning unfold.