Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.
Why Teach Kids About Hull House?
Whether you are studying immigration history with your students, teaching them about famous women from U.S. history, or trying to help them understand the complexities of social reform overall, teaching about Hull House can offer really important insight. Founded in 1889 by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr, Hull House became a symbol of people working together trying to offer sanctuary and education for new immigrants. Hull House, located in Chicago, represented secular attempts to advance social reform in the U.S. At the same time, studying Hull House raises interesting and important critical questions about assimilation and respect for difference.
If you are teaching kids about Hull House, it can help to have some hands-on activities that will get them interested and motivated to learn. The activities in this lesson appeal to a variety of learning styles while offering insight into what Hull House was and what it means within its historical context.
The activities in this section are designed to appeal to students who learn best visually, using images or graphic organizers to help them make sense of new information.
Painting Hull House
Break students into small groups, and give each group a large piece of butcher paper or poster board to work with. Have students work together to paint an image of Hull House onto this paper. In addition to painting the house, they can also include the surrounding neighborhood and images of the kinds of people they'd likely see near Hull House. Display students' renditions around your classroom so they can compare and contrast their work with others.
Jane Addams Character Web
Students can work independently or partner up for this activity, which offers a graphic organizer to help them understand Jane Addams. Give each student or pair a piece of paper with Addams' name in the middle. Ask them to circle her name and draw at least six different lines sticking out from it. At the end of each line, have them write an adjective that they feel adequately describes Addams' personality and intentions.
Here, you will find activities well suited to those students who learn best using their hands and bodies.
A Day at Hull House
Break students into small groups for this dramatic activity. Explain that their task is to reenact a scene that could have reasonably taken place at Hull House. They can write a script or simply improvise, depending on how much time you want to allot for the activity. Students should play different roles in the scenario, and they can design props, costumes and scenery if you like. Give them a chance to act out these scenes for their classmates.
The Three R's
Hull House was partly founded based on Addams' precepts of residence, research and reform. Break students into partnerships or small groups for this activity. Assign each group one of the three R's to focus on. Using clay or recycled material, ask them to construct a sculpture representing what they think this R means in the context of Hull House. Sculptures may be concrete or abstract, but students should work together and be prepared to justify their decisions and representations. Host a gallery showing for students to admire each other's sculptures.
Finally, this section offers activities designed to appeal to students who learn best from talking, listening, reading and writing.
Welcome to Hull House
Ask students to work in partnerships to design pamphlets welcoming newcomers to Hull House. Their pamphlets should look interesting and appealing, but they should also include information about what Hull House is, its mission, and how life there works. When students are finished, give them a chance to admire each other's work.
Letter from an Immigrant
For this activity, ask students to imagine that they are immigrants who have been spending time at Hull House, and they are writing letters to their native country to describe their experiences. In these letters, they can explain what they like about Hull House as well as what they dislike or find problematic about life there. Students should think realistically about the Hull House population and life in the late nineteenth century as they write. You can compile your students' letters into a book to celebrate their efforts.
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