Here are some fun things to do with your teachers, family, or friends to explore the Rules of Civility and daily life when I was a child and getting my education at
Back in the 1700s, when George Washington was a boy, students stuck the paper containing their lesson onto a piece of wood shaped like a paddle. They then covered the paper with an extremely thin, almost plastic-like sheet of animal horn. These were called hornbooks.
In this activity, you’ll make a cardboard hornbook for a lesson on the alphabet and the Rules of Civility.
When George Washington copied the Rules of Civility, he did the assignment to learn the rules and practice his penmanship. Penmanship is very important when you write letters and documents, and George was expected to write often. He needed to be able to read back over his journals and letters, and other people needed to be able to read them, too. If he didn’t have good penmanship, we wouldn’t know very much about him because we wouldn’t be able to read his documents!
In this activity, you’ll download a notebook to print out and use to practice your own penmanship. Make sure you have your printer set to print the booklet two-sided, and “flip on short edge”. Once the booklet is printed, you can simply fold it in half and it will be in the correct order.
The Rules of Civility showed George and other people the proper manners expected of them but, at the same time, the rules also existed because people did not behave like they were supposed to behave. No matter how hard we might really try, humans do behave badly once in a while. In this theater skit, you and your friends or family can learn a little more about the Rules of Civility by not following them!
This bookmark shows a young George at Ferry Farm attempting to throw a rock across the Rappahannock River on the front and features the first and last of the 110 Rules of Civility on the back.
Download the bookmarks and print on the front and back of an 8.5×11 sheet of cardstock paper. Then, carefully cut the bookmarks out and share with your friends and family.
Teachers! Using George Washington’s Rules of Civility as guidelines for good citizenship and civil behavior, this lesson will help students apply historical sources to current local news, and understand how civility improves the functioning of a free society.
This lesson also acquaints students with analytically reading newspaper articles, and helps them to be aware of potential bias.