Thursday, June 27, 2013

Morse Code Treasure Hunt

My friend Andrea had a brilliant idea for demonstrating that knowing how to read gives us power (and for helping the children think about how frustrating it must have been for the slaves who didn't know how to read). Her idea was to write out clues for a treasure hunt in Morse Code, and show the children how without knowledge of that "language," it's impossible to make progress toward your goal (the treasure).

I loved this idea and we executed it pretty much just as she did. We read this and this, both stories about how valuable literacy was to the slaves. We talked about Frederick Douglass' statement, "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free," and we read excerpts from his autobiography. Very inspiring.

The treasure hunt was a small one, just around our house and yard, and up and down the street, but the children were very excited about it. The older boys loved learning Morse Code and insisted on writing it (and tapping it on doors, and flashing it with lights) all the time for the next several days.
I had some Civil War soldier figures that we were going to use later on in our unit, so I put those in the "treasure box" at the end of the hunt, along with little notebooks I found in the dollar section at Michael's. The notebooks were surprisingly well-received; they weren't really anything special but the children seemed to think they were. We talked about how lucky we are to have access to all the books and paper and pencils we could ever want!

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