Goals and Objectives--Grades 9 - 12
Voices and Choices--William Dellert
Note: It is a good idea to print
Level Three for easy reference.
William Dellert and his wife Vera own a plot of
land in Springfield. They have decided to purchase a house kit from
the Sears catalog. They must decide which style of home they like
These themes can be explored with either a social studies or
language arts curriculum. Use these themes to tie in other
resources to your class discussion, i.e., other books, other
cultures, students' own lives.
- The spread of consumerism in rural America through
- The role of mail-order catalogs in providing:
- accessibility to materials and manufactured products from far
- information on popular styles
- opportunities for conspicuous consumption
- New technologies for the home--in the 1920s, the new
technologies included central plumbing and electricity. Have your
students investigate today's home technologies.
These questions, which come at the end of each story (minus "the
answer"), can be used to start class discussions or be assigned as
William Dellert and his wife Vera are ready to own their first
home. Describe how they are going to select their house. Where will
they put this house?
They are going to order their home from the Sears and Roebuck
catalog. It will arrive disassembled, as raw materials, and William
will build this home on a piece of land they have bought in the
city of Springfield.
If you wanted to buy a home today, outline the steps you would
take. How does your plan differ from the Dellerts' plan? What might
be several alternative ways to obtain your home?
There are a variety of ways to buy a home today. Encourage
students to consider everything from buying a trailer home to
hiring an architect and contractor to build the home of their
dreams. Students who are not familiar with the rudiments of buying
a home may want to interview their parents or call a local
real-estate agent for an interview about the steps one takes
purchasing a home.
What are today's equivalents to the home kits of the
Today's equivalents might include trailer homes, prefab houses,
and model homes built as units for housing developments.
What impact do you think mail-order catalogs had on isolated
Mail-order catalogs linked rural communities to a nationally
shared marketplace. Via mail-order catalogs, rural families could
participate in the latest purchasing-styles and trends. No longer
did they have to feel deprived of the consumer products that were
available to their urban counterparts.
Do you or your family receive mail-order catalogs? Have you
ever purchased something from one of these catalogs? What did you
buy? Make a list of the pros and the cons of purchasing from a
Mail-order catalogs have seen a resurgence in popularity over
the past decade as a way for consumers to save time shopping. Ask
your students to consider their buying habits and, if they buy from
catalogs, the pros and cons of mail-order.
These are suggested classroom activities and student projects
that you may want to use with your students or as models to create
1. Comparing Catalogs Across Time
Catalogs are a valuable source of information for the historian.
They can tell us about:
Based on the above criteria, compare an object from the early 1900s
with a similar object found in catalogs today.
- advertising methods
- trends in purchasing or style
- Choose a catalog object from the early 1900s in Clues to the Past
- Refer to two or three of today's catalogs to find a similar
- Create a chart to help you compare three or four catalogs
Discuss the similarities and differences between the objects.
What has changed and what hasn't changed? How is language used
differently in the object descriptions? What images seemed to
appeal to the consumer of the early 1900s, and what seems to appeal
to today's consumer?
As a class, put your information together and see if you can
describe the consumer of the early 1900s vs. the consumer of the
the 1990s. How do you think changes in technology have contributed
to consumer needs and desires?
2. New Technologies for the Home
By 1920 people were stressing comfort, function, and economy in
equipping their homes. For those who could afford them, new
inventions such as electricity, indoor plumbing, and central
heating helped meet these ends.
Find out more about new technologies for the home in the areas of:
3. Reporting on the Modern Home of Today
What are some of the new technologies for today's home? How have
the new technologies of the 1920s been improved? Answer these
questions in a written report on the most modern home that money
can buy today.
You might want to look at the website WorkSpace
Resources - Furniture for the Electronic Age
- Defining modern terms, such as "Central Air," for your
- Including graphics that support your ideas.
- Preparing your report as a hypercard stack, World Wide Web
site, or digital slide show.
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