Posted in science, time travel

Hard-working water

We have spent the better part of a year learning how we can do things for our waterways. Now we are learning about all the Work (capital W!) that waterways can do for us! This week we experimented with water wheels. Barbara set the challenge of designing an efficient water wheel.

Which design needs the least “water power” to lift a crayon?

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Our science and social studies work are truly at an intersection now!

Waterwheels were used in colonial mills (sawmills, gristmills, and more). Windmills were some of the early technologies used by the Dutch (and other cultures) to accomplish large-scale projects. In the Netherlands, windmills actually did the work of draining swamps to turn them into usable, stable land. The earliest known drainage mill is from 1414!

Windmills in Amsterdam (source: city archives)

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Posted in time travel, writing

Another day in New Amsterdam

Lief dagboek,

Today I was sitting under the big tree when a Lenape trader walked up. He was carrying bever pelts. I dropped my lunch. “Welnik alapaek,” he said. I picked up my bread and threw it to a nearby varken. I stood up one of my klompen landed in my hutspot. Lenape traders never traveled this far into the city. “Goedemorgen?” I said uncertainly. I took out a string of sewan and asked “how much?” I picked out 3 strings of sewan and pointed at the one I wanted. I handed it over, I handed over the sewan. I admired my prize. I had thought I would have to go past the wall. I walked home and hung my prize on the wall. I was going to make it into a scarf tomorrow. I went upstairs. I had quite a lot of paperwork to fill out. My will was taking a long time. I stayed up till 12:00 ignoring the constant “all is well” from the rattle watch. I tossed and turned in my sleep. “It’s 1:00 and all is well” I heard from a distant place. I fell asleep and was suddenly woken up by a yell, “fire at the blacksmiths! Fire at the blacksmiths! Bring your buckets!” I get up and hastily got dressed, raced to the door, picked up my bucket and sped to the blacksmith. When I got there people were pouring bucket after bucket onto the blaze…


Posted in reading, time travel

Hello, neighbor

For this lesson, we pretended to be Dutch children living in New Amsterdam. Like any child who walks around their neighborhood and is sent on errands, we got to know the shops on our block very well. At the end of the lesson, we gave other children a tour of our street and its workshops!

Do you live on De Heere, or Gansevoort?


Delilah explains where you should go if you need a haircut (or to be bled)
Two Dutch children living on De Heere Straet
Reading up about different colonial workshops


Emmy works with a small group
Eager to share about her favorite workshop!


Thank you Emmy for teaching this lesson!

Posted in time travel, writing

Getting to know New Amsterdam

Letters written “home” after a few days in New Amsterdam…

Liefste moeder,

I have just arrived here in New Amsterdam and I don’t mean to be picky but I am not very impressed! I see streets unpaved, not very friendly kids at the what’s it called? The latin school! But hey, I can’t complain I mean I agreed to it and I know it will be worth it. I do enjoy Stone Street though it’s the only street paved so my eyes don’t have to be glued to the floor all the time! I am impressed by the big tall tree! I have ate lunch there 4 times already. I am provided with food by the way. I’m pretty sure this first week is supposed to be not very hard because I’m not doing much work. I hear there is a gate going to a bunch of berries GIANT ones it’s called the Water Gate. I wanted to go there but my “master” says no! I do like him though his name is Frank. I also saw a big ship called the “HAKASAKAF.” It was written in gold!!! Probably fake gold that’s what Frank said at least but he says everything’s fake! Except for his stuff of course, his treasure, his 500 pound pig, his diamond collection…etcetera etcetera. He gave me worker’s shoes so his animals won’t step on me! They’re way too big but he says I’ll grow into them but they’re so big both my feet can fit in them at the same time! As you know I’m a perfectionist so your perspective is most likely different.
Sincerely your son, me


Liefste moeder,
Moeder you will never believe the Coentie Slip, there was a ship that was docking in as soon as I got off the boat I was on. The boat was loud because they had to take a bunch of crates off the ship. There were a lot of beaver hat in the beaver shop and I think I saw a back room full of even more beaver objects. When I got to Stone Street I saw a chicken chasing a dog! There’s a school for rich boys it was really fancy, the boys made sure that they did not sit on dirt and they paid very good attention on the teacher. Right next to the school was a very big old tree with benches all around the tree. I miss you moeder I love you. Love your daughter Xeta.


Liefste moeder,

I have just arrived here in New Amsterdam one week ago on a boat. It is a nice town with a big meadow with a river and some delicious berries. I am currently living on Pearl Street. I am near Stone Street (the only paved street here). Only the walls are made out of wood which would burn down in a second but it is a magnificent sight. They also have a Latin school only the rich people go to high school I have no hope of getting there anytime soon. There is a place called Beaver Street they sell lots of beaver pelt hats there. De Heere Street used to be a indian foot trail and a war path but if you stay on the other side of the wall you will be safe from the indians. A foot trail is a place where you walk not ride a horse…

–Ben I