I love teaching 5th Grade Literature! Although most of our literature books correspond with our history era, these reading selections also contain beautiful life lessons. They are filled with powerful themes. 

One of my favorites is Carry On, Mr. Bowditch. Although a sad, seafaring tale, it is a true story and filled with themes of perseverance, initiative, and triumph over tragedy. So many good takeaways exist in this book, but sometimes they can be easy to miss because of the number of sad events. It is a book that students either love or hate. It is polarizing for sure. Some years I question the reading of it because it is filled with so much sadness. But, not this year. 

Let me tell you a little about Nathaniel Bowditch (1773 – 1838). Yes, he was a real person!

The story begins as Nathaniel (Nat) Bowditch is about to learn that he has to quit school at the age of 12 and become indentured for the next 9 years. Nat is a boy who is good at numbers and loves learning deeply, so he is devastated by the news. Nat is “becalmed” by his family’s circumstances and yet chooses to “sail by ash breeze” and keep on keeping on. 

I don’t want to give away any of the story, but suffice it to say that he uses his time to learn about anything and everything that he finds interesting (which is a lot) and goes on to… You’ll have to read the rest of the story to find out! It’s a Newbery Award winning book by Jean Lee Latham, and I highly recommend it (even for adults)!

So, in our 5th Grade Literature Zoom sessions, we have a “Be Like Nat” portion.  Students can share ways they have used their extra time during these distance learning days to explore a new thing or go deeper in studying something.

Some student submissions so far have included:

  • Gardening
  • Spending more time outside
  • Building a CCS model out of Legos
  • Teaching a younger sibling more about Jesus
  • Trimming all of the trees in the yard (and piling up all of the trimmed branches)
  • Drawing or sketching
  • Playing more basketball
  • Spending more time with a younger sibling
  • Playing games indoors or outside as a family
  • Helping with home repairs and even getting to use a drill!
  • Spending 1 1/2 hours a day teaching my younger sister how to ride a bike
  • Studying more about science or nature
  • Doing an enrichment activity 

Even when things are hard and limited, figuring out new ways to visit grandparents and other extended family – while still staying six feet apart! (Nat wasn’t always able to see his family during his indenture.)

And many more…

Not every day will we have extra time during these distance learning days, but some days we may. We can use the time to reflect, explore, enjoy a slower pace, and to be thankful. Let’s redeem the time!

How are you going to “be like Nat?”