Teaching Cleveland
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Middle School Edition: 6-8

Lesson 36

Sleighing on Euclid Avenue in 1896

OBJECTIVE:

Students will view a Cleveland winter activity of the 1890s by reading personal accounts of sledding on Euclid Avenue. Students will create their own "sleighing" competitions by designing a miniature sled for classroom competitions.

INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS:

TERMS:

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LESSON FOCUS:

  1. What winter recreational activities did Clevelanders enjoy in 1896?
  2. Who was "sleighing" on Euclid Avenue?

TEACHING PROCEDURES:

  1. Survey students on sledding. Where do they sled? What is the best sled to use? What about snowmobiles, how are they powered? Take them back to winter in 1896. How would a sleigh be "powered"? Explain to students that during the 19th Century, Cleveland had what was known at the most beautiful street in the world -- Euclid Avenue. Euclid Avenue was also the center for many social activities - bike riding, strolling, and carriage riding. In the winter it was also considered one of the best streets for sleighing.
  2. Distribute copies of Readings - Sleighing on Euclid Avenue. Have students read the accounts and then discuss. Students should be able to describe the activity of sleighing, why it was enjoyable, who participated in the activity, and identify the best qualities of a good sleigh and horse. Have students draw comparisons to winter snow activities today.
  3. Explain to students that they will have their own sleighing competition in their class room. This can be done as an independent activity or in groups. They are to design their own sleigh using only classroom supplies. The sleighs should be a maximum of 5 inches square. The competition will be held on an incline (the height and angle determined by the teacher. Be certain that the surface is slick enough that the sleighs will slide down the incline. A slide on the playground could also be used) Encourage students to be as creative and inventive as possible, and to decorate their sleighs as colorfully as possible. Competitions can be held for best design, most colorful, etc.Winners could receive free homework passes, treats, extra recess time, etc.

Additional Activities:
Have students write a descriptive essay of what sleighing on Euclid Avenue must have looked like in 1896. They could write it from a spectators view point or the view point of a racer.

Students could draw the scene of Euclid Avenue and the sleighing competitions.

For a science lesson, students could research snowfall records of Cleveland from 1896 to 1996 and graph the results.

Additional Resources:
Video Tape from the Western Reserve Historical Society on the mansions and lifestyle of Cleveland's Millionaire's row "Showplace of America."


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