Lesson Plans > 1st Grade

School Days


North Grove School, a one-room school (first photo), was used from 1878-1952. This school was located in the country, where most of the children walked to school everyday. For many years, all the classes were taught in Swedish because the northern part of Sycamore had a large Swedish population. This school is located at 26745 Brickville Road and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The second photo is of a 2nd grade class in Central School on California and Exchange Streets in downtown Sycamore. It was used as a school from 1863-1926, and it included 1st grade through high school. The school included cloakrooms, recitation rooms, an apparatus room, eight classrooms, and an assembly hall, located on the top floor.

Note: Materials are for educational purposes only.


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North Grove SchoolCentral School, 1892

Guided Questions:

How were schools a long time ago similar to and different from schools today?

Suggested Activity:

  1. Show students pictures of North Grove School and Central School. Ask students how these schools are different from their school.
  2. Teachers could introduce the concept of a Venn diagram using hula- hoops. The hoops would overlap each other, creating a Venn diagram. The teacher can write the ideas the student have about the similarities and differences on 3x5 index cards. Students will place the cards in the same or different areas of the hula-hoops. This is a good visual for students to understand similarities and differences of schools today and 100 years ago.
  3. Students can identify technology used at that time. Remember that technology is something that makes work easier. Students could infer that students back then were excited about new books, paper versus horn books, desks versus benches, or electric lights versus candles.
  4. Students could also discuss what would have been fun about going to school at North Grove School in the country versus going to school in town at the Central School.
  5. Students could also identify the types of games that children played in the past like jacks, kick the can, Annie Over, pick-up sticks, or marbles. Remind them that they did not have large playgrounds like we have today.
  6. Students could list the chores that would have had to have been shared, since there were no janitors or maintenance employees.

Suggested Assessment:

Students could draw a picture showing how school at the old North Grove School or at the Central School would have been different. They could write sentences describing their pictures.