You are a peasant in a medieval village. One day, you hear of people in town getting this strange disease. Soon people all over are dying suddenly. One day, you wake up to find your father in bed with a fever and large black blisters on the sides of his new and under his armpits. The next day, the blisters grow bigger. By the third day, the blisters are the size of a goose egg. He begins to vomit blood. On the fourth day, he dies. Your mother, your two siblings, and you do not know how to handle this since so many people have died and there is not enough time for a proper burial.
This was the scenario presented to the children this week. As I read it, I refused to answer any questions. Instead, I told the children to write down all their questions from this situation and anything that they noticed. They eagerly started filling up their notebook page with observations and questions. After a few minutes, they shared with the class their thoughts. Below are the intelligent questions and observations and creative solutions that they came up with.
The next day, Mrs. Stephens picked up the children from recess apparently Miss Savides was not feeling well and she just had to go home early. The children did not really question it. They realized with surprise that there was more information on the back of their story about this mysterious disease. This story let them know that the next day the mom also started having the black blisters. And the doctor was summoned.
Suddenly, our beloved principal told the children she wasn’t feeling well. She then revealed a black blister on her neck. Oh no! Mrs. Stephens was the mom in the story! She called out for the doctor, and someone walked in with a long stick, all black robes, a hat, and a bird mask.
The children were speechless at first, but then began asking questions of the doctor (including “Are you Miss Savides?”). They wanted to know why the doctor only poked Mrs. Stephens and did not actually do anything else. Check out a few more pictures here.
Soon as the questions began to dwindle, the doctor left. Mrs. Stephens led the students in more questioning. Towards the end, I came back feeling much better; though somehow they all suspected that it was me in that doctor’s costume (how strange!). The children looked up several diseases that they thought this might be including Zika, Ebola, leprosy, and the Black Death. By the end of the day, they all knew that this plague was called the Black Death.
Next week, they’ll explore even more about it to understand the cause, the effects, and solutions to this far-reaching disease. And ultimately use this new understanding about this disease to discuss how faithfulness can be sustained.