Take a virtual visit to the Altona Schoolhouse to see what it was like to be a student in the 1880s or 1940s.
These field trips are primarily intended for third and fourth grades, but they are flexible and can be adjusted for the group and time available. It is important that the group read the introduction to the field trip. This could be read aloud to students or by students on their own. That way students will know a bit about the place they are virtually visiting!
Altona School was a one-room country school northwest of Longmont from 1880 to the 1940s. When field trip groups visit this one-room school museum in person, their teacher can choose from three field trips: one about a pioneer school day during the 1880s, one about a World War II era school day in the1940s, or a field trip about mining since the Altona community was a place miners bought supplies before heading into the mountains.
One-room schools usually started in country neighborhoods where many farm or ranch families lived. Education for their children was important, so they would work together to offer school in their homes as more settlers came to their area. When local requirements were met, they could form a school district and would often pool their resources and energy to build a school that the children could attend.
Communities would hire a teacher to teach grades one (there was no kindergarten then) through eight. Children as young as preschool age (they might be sent to school with an older sibling) and as old as age 20 attended school. Students whose help was heavily needed on their family farms might attend school off and on, so some continued to attend after the age eighth grade typically ended. The teacher, along with help from older students, taught all subjects: reading, writing, arithmetic, as well as subjects they might have special knowledge of, such as science, history, or a foreign language. Every school was a bit different.
If students wanted to attend school beyond the eighth grade, they had to move to a big city and likely stay with extended family. An older sibling or one parent might also leave the farm and rent a home to stay with their children while they continued their education. Some students might board with strangers who let students stay in their homes. These students might travel home for weekends and school breaks and to help on their farms. If the high school was too far away, though, they might get home only a few times a year.
By the 1950s, many one-room schools were combined into suburban or city schools. School busing was more available and could take students longer distances. Farm area populations were decreasing.