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The USS Constitution Museum is a great resource for teaching the War of 1812. The “A Sailor’s Life for Me!” interactive is great to use with middle school students and freshman in high school. It is a fun way to learn about life as a member of the U.S.S. Constitution Crew.
A teacher might find helpful to create a worksheet for students to complete so they do not rush through the activity or students can complete the activity without any questions. Another option would be to have each student write a journal entry at the end of each lesson.
Students will complete the award winning game “A Sailor’s Life for Me.” It is an interactive created by the USS Constitution. Students will complete the daily tasks of sailors on the ship.
This should be a 2-3 day activity. The students should gain a good understanding of the life of a sailor on the USS Constitution.
Students really enjoy this activity.
- Learn the daily tasks of a sailor on the USS Constitution.
- Learn the different sections of the ship & purposes of each section.
- To do a GOOD JOB! Get promoted! Stay Happy & Healthy. Have friends.
- ULTIMATE OBJECTIVE: to help win the battle.
- ONCE PROMOTED: Learn the different tasks of an officer.
- Compare / Contrast the different positions on the ship.
1. Setting the Scene: The students are introduced to the game with the following:
Boston June 1812 “Come in and join the USS CONSTITUTION’S War of 1812 crew. All healthy, strong and brave souls are welcome to apply. We will soon set sail against the enemy for free trade and sailor’s rights.” This is your chance to serve your country and see if a sailor’s life is for you.”
As the students complete the interactive, it is important for the students to use the information at the top right hand corner that keeps track of heath (hearts), promotion points (stars), money ($), and rank (boy, able seaman, gun captain), Students can earn promotion points by completing tasks quickly and efficiently.
2. Interview Questions. Each student will answer 7 questions for the officer to access whether he / she would be worthy crew member.
After answering the questions you will receive a health level, promotion points, money and a rank based on the responses.
Best Possible Responses: (3.5 hearts, 3 stars, $16) ?Hey, you are a natural sailer! Are you sure you have never been to sea before? I’m proud to have you aboard. You will join the crew as a” boy.” That’s the lowest rank. But you will still be a proper sailor, and you’ll soon be promoted to Ordinary Seaman if you work hard.?
Worst Possible Responses: (2 hearts, -2 stars, $16) “You’re better off ashore, mate! but I’m short of recruits, and I will take you on if you promise to shape up. You will join the crew as a” boy.” That’s the lowest rank. But you will still be a proper sailor, and you’ll soon be promoted to Ordinary Seaman if you work hard.”
3. Pack your Sea Bag Each student will need to buy the bare necessities for life on the sea. Sailors can return to the purser several times during the game. Encourage the students to really think about the purchases, specifically looking at how the items will impact health and comfort.
Some required items: Hat, shoes, jacket, vest, shirt, pants, underwear. Students must purchase required items (Double Click the item to purchase it.)
Price Items: Description (impact)
$20.00 Fine Jacket: Expensive, but well made of good cloth (10 stars)
$16.00 Wool trousers: Heavy cloth, strong, keeps you warm (8 stars)
$12.00 Wool Vest: Strong cloth, keeps you warm (6 stars)
$12.00 Flannel Shirt: Warm, and lasts a long time (8 stars)
$8.00 Glazed Hat: Strong, stiff, and waterproof (5 stars)
$8.00 Fine Shoes: Expensive, but well made (5 stars)
$5.00 Coarse Jacket: Less expensive, but badly made of cheaper cloth
$2.00 Linen Vest: Not regulation wear, bu fancy
$2.00 Linen shirt: Cool, but wears out quickly
$2.00 Duck Trousers: Light fabric, wears out quickly
$2.00 Underwear: Everyone needs underwear
$2.00 Knife: For cutting rope and dinner
$1.50 Fine Comb: Get lice out of hair, small teeth 1 star
$1.50 Soap: Needed to keep clean (1 time use) ½ heart
$1.00 Tea: Luxury, but good on a cold day at see (1 time use / ½ heart)
$1.00 Sugar: Good for sweetening tea & chocolate (1 time use / ½ heart)
$1.00 Wool Felt Hat: Cheap, easily crushed or destroyed by water
$1.00 Coarse Shoes: Inexpensive, but will fall apart quickly
$1.00 Needles: For sewing and repairing clothes
$1.00 Thread: For sewing and repairing clothes
Luxury items are stored in the top right corner. [When item is consumed it adds to score and disappears]
- Tea: How special! (Click to drink)
- Sugar: Delicious and sweet. (Click to eat)
- Chocolate: How special! (Click to eat)
- Soap: Good for cleaning, good for making friends. (Click to use)
3. Choices: Throughout the game, each student will be presented with situations that will require a decision.
Charity: “Sad to see ol’ Will tipped over board this afternoon, eh? Come on let’s have some silver for his wife and two young ‘uns.” Choices: Donate $1.00 or Don’t Donate
Health and Money: Good evening sailor! Will you be taking grog or 50 cents this fine evening? (Grog – ¼ heart)
Honesty: This morning on the quarterdeck I slipped on a disgusting chewed wad of tobacco. One of you men spat it there.If you won’t tell me who it was, I shall have all of you punished.
It was mr. Smith (3 stars) or I do not know who did such a thing (2 stars)
So you chose silence over honesty, do you? That is sure to win you respect with the crew, but not with the officers. Don’t expect promotion anytime soon, seaman.
4. Daily Schedule and Tasks: The daily schedule of a member of the U.S.S. Constitution is very regular.
- Morning Watch 4:00 AM – 8:00 AM (Reveille, Muster, Holystoning)
- Forenoon Watch 8:00 AM – Noon (Breakfast, Gun Drill)
- Afternoon Watch noon – 4:00
- 1st Dog Watch 4:00PM – 6:00 PM (Supper, Sweep Deck)
- Last Dog Watch 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM Leisure Time
- 1st watch 8:00 PM to Midnight:
Each sailor will be required to complete the tasks. Based on performance, each sailor can earn promotions points. Most tasks are simple. The removal of the chamber pot is a little gross, but highlights the reality of life on a ship.
5. Payment: At the end of each session or month, each sailor receives payment for the work. Students can also earn money gambling during leisure time.
Holystoning (The waist): Tip take a break to increase your energy. There are THREE full boards you can complete. Click drag your mouse to scrub. Avoid obstacles, especially officers. You’ll earn one promotion point for a section cleaned. (3 sections / 30 seconds)
“A dirty deck is a sign of a good-for-nothing crew, so get down on your knees with the others, boy. that block of stone is a ”prayer book,” but this is no Chapel. You use it to scrub the deck – with the help of sand and water.
Feedback: 1 star: “A good effort – but you need to take more care in the corners.”
Day #2: I like a sailor who takes pride in his work! Here is the holystone; off you go.
Day #3 Good to see you lad! Ready for more scrubbing?
Day #4: “Let’s see if you can get those planks as white as clouds. I like a man who likes clean decks.”
Forenoon Watch 8:00 AM – Noon (Breakfast, Gun Drill)
Day #1 Gun Drill Tips: Use the arrow keys to move. Use the space bar to jump. Avoid obstacles. Goal is to complete the tasks as quickly as possible.
“Well, what have we got here? You look like a fit young lad, and we could certainly do with your help! You can be our powder monkey, and keep this ’ere gun supplied with what we need to blast the English to kingdom come!
Your task, lad, is too scary down to the magazine, two decks below, and fetch us up powder, one cartridge at a time. Don’t trip over anything, and watch out for stray cannonballs – and officers.”
Feedback: Powder run done! “Keep that pace up, lad, and we shall never run short of powder.” (3 stars one trip)
Day #2 Here ‘e is again lads! No chance of us running out of powder with this boy fetching it. Go on lad, we need some right now.
Day #3 Good lad! You’re back to lend a hand with the gun. You know the ropes, now, so off with you down to the magazine,
Day #4 Here ‘e is again lads! No chance of us running out of powder with this boy fetching it. Go on lad, we need some right now.
LOAD THE GUN Practice loading and firing a cannon in this gun drill. the procedure is complicated, so watch carefully and repeat it, step by step, until you can do the entire procedure correctly.
- Sponge the gun
- Load with Cartridge
- Shoot the gun
Just in time! the gun crew needs an extra man. now that you are an ordinary seaman, you’ll need to know a little more. the drill is the same as before, but there are a few more steps to repeat.
Well done! You made a valiant effort there sailor. With a bit more practice, will make a gun out of you yet.
FIRE THE CANNON: Are you ready for a challenge, Able Seaman? For this gun locks a captain. Before they take aim at the enemy, the gun-crew need some practice under your command, at firing drifting barrels. Go on: have a go! You need a careful in, and to hit the target you have to fire at just the right moment.
Shooting task complete: A fair effort, gun captain. You were trying hard, but many of your shots do wide off the target. need more practice before we Engage The Enemy again. (1 out of 4 stars )
Day #2 You rascally useless sailor. All our gun captains are as bad as you, our proud Republic will soon be a British colony once more. Next time you must do better. (0 out of 4 stars)
Afternoon Watch noon – 4:00
Officer’s Servant (The Wardroom) Be steady
“Ah! good lad, right on time, and just when we need you! you can empty this chamber pot: it’s full to the brim. Don’t spill it, mind, or you’ll put us all off our meal.”
Directions “Keep the chamber pot from spilling, if you can! and try not to trip on those boxes.”
Distance to Head: 20 hearts and (5) Xs
Feedback: “Oops. You have spilled to many times. Done serving officers( for today)!” (1 our of 4 stars)
“Well done! You’ve delivered the chamber pot and emptied it into the sea.” (4 our of 4 stars)
Stars earned depend on how close you get to the head as well as how many spills.
Day #2 Here he is now gentlemen! We were just talking about you, boy, and up you pop. Here, take this chamber pot in empty it in the head. Take care, it’s a precious cargo you’re carrying.
Rats in the Hole: Tip use the + symbol to line up the rats.
You are here at last – I can do with some help. There are so many of these darned rats. They will eat the whole ship if we let them. Take this club and help me whack them. Don’t whack the cat or the dog; they are on our side! And don’t whack the ends of the barrel, either
Great! You taught them rats a lesson they won’t forget in a hurry. Tomorrow, though, they will be even more crawling out of the woodwork, so come down to the hold again.
Look alert, sailor! you may not be on watch right now, but can’t you hear the drummer sounding “beat to the quarters?” Your Shipmates are making for the battle stations with all possible haste. The reason is plain to see on the horizon; a frigate, flying the British flag.
The Wheel You man! Yes you, the able seaman with the jaunty walk. Have you taken the wheel before? No? Well, now is your chance to find out how well you can steer this mighty frigate of ours. Take the helm and get us clear of the harbor and out to sea.
Level 1 Over to Apple Island to pick up some supplies before heading out to sea.
Steering Complete: A fine effort! You had your eye on the sails, and kept us safely away from the shoals and sandbars. You shall have another opportunity to stay at this magnificent ship. (3 out of 3 stars)
You are no stranger to quarterdeck, are you, fellow? Here, take the helm again. I need you to set a course for yonder harbo. Take it carefully; there are shoals and sandbanks, but the lookout in the foretop will warn you of them.
There’s a ship on the horizon. Prepare for battle!
“Ships Ahoy” This cry from the Masthead alerts the crew to a distant sail. It is the British frigate Guerriere. Within three hours to two ships are close enough to open fire with their cannons, any battle begins that will make the Constitution famous.
At first the gunfire has little effect. When an English cannon ball bounces off Constitution’s Timbers, a seamen cries “Huzza! Her sides are made of iron!”… and earns ship her famous nickname.
The battle grows fiercer when Captain Hull sails closer to Guerriere. Pounding broadsides from the Constitution’s skilled crews brings down the English ship’s mizzen mass and the two vessels collide. Their rigging tangles and crews clash with musket fire.”
The battles on now! Bring us powder as quickly as you can. (Complete the task)
When the ship separates Guerriere’s, other two masts crash overboard. Crippled and helpless, the English ship fires a single gun to signal defeat.
When the battle ends, the two sides count the cost. Because the Constitution’s gunners aimed low, Guerriere is full of holes and sinking. Her captain comes aboard and surrenders. Captain Hull orders the rest of the crew on board his ship, and sets Guerriere on fire.
As the flames take hold, surgeons from both ships take work side by side on the casualties. The battles has claimed 7 American and 15 British lives. But first aid helps save Constitution’s seven wounded and more than 10 times as many from Guerriere. (Cockpit after Battle)
Promotion: Well done, lad! Your gun Captain tells me you did a magnificent job for one so young and inexperienced. I am more than delighted to promote you to the rank of ordinary seaman.
Lobscouse: Constitution’s seamen enjoy a stew with the curious name of “lobscouse.” What do you think is in it, besides beef? If you can correctly guess the other four ingredients, you learn popularity points.
That’s it! Well, there is no exact recipe for lobscouse, but it always includes onions, beef, and either biscuits or potatoes – sometimes both. Boiled for hours, it gets as thick as porridge. Seamen spoon it up hungrily, because it’s warming and gives them plenty of energy.
2nd Battle The enemy ship is HMS java, a frigate smaller and lighter than Constitution. Captain Bainbridge gives the order to open fire in the early afternoon.
The battle’s on now! Load and fire the cannon. (One time)
In a devastating of seamanship, gunnery, and cunning, Constitution leaves the British ship a complete wreck, barely afloat. Constitution’s crew give three cheers when the enemy haul down their flag, showing that they surrender.
Almost immediately Constitution’s two surviving boats row the short distance to the defeated Java. Climbing aboard, First Lieutenant George Parker finds a scene total destruction, with the dead and injured everywhere among the Tangled rigging and splintered wood.
British crew comes aboard Constitution. Captain Bainbridge decides Java cannot be saved in orders her set ablaze. The explosion of the magazine full of gunpowder sinks her.
Bravo! For a seaman of such little experience, you are a credit to Constitution. you have done so well that I have decided to promote you. when you return to the ship, you will have the rank of Able Seaman.
1st Dog Watch 4:00PM – 6:00 PM (Supper Sweep Deck)
The Mess Every sailor on Constitution is part of a 12 strong family called a mess. mess mates are not related, but they are as close as brothers. Each meal time, they gather in the same spot on the birth deck, spread out a cloth, and sit around it cross-legged to share their food. (EAT = ½ heart)
Day #2 (EAT = ½ heart)
AFTER THE BATTLE Good evening sailor! will you be taking Grog or 50 Cent’s this fine evening? (Grog – ¼ heart)
Sail Handling (New task) Memory
It takes more than a hundred ropes to rig themselves up there, so that the best catch the wind, and speed our ship along. Each rope has a different name, but fortunately you don’t have to remember what they’re all called. You just have to know which to pull, and when. so watch what I do then click the pin reels in the same order.
Gun rigging: That was a fine effort and you hauled well. The watch is changing now, so you are done hauling for today, But will be back at it tomorrow. Practice makes perfect, lad!
Last Dog Watch 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Leisure Time Click the cup to roll the dice.
Leisure Time Work feels almost every minute of a sailor’s day, but from time to time, the strict routine slackens a little. Then Constitution’s men relaxed together on the forecastle. It’s a chance to tell a tall story or throw dice in a secret (and forbidden) gambling game.
Pssst! Sailor! Wanna to have some fun? And win some money? We’re playing Going to Boston, and you could throw the dice, too. Come on! You will pick up the rules in the snap! (Play Dice / Shop at Purser / Continue)
Play Dice ($1, $2, $5, $10) Whoa! You did well, buddy. you took dick for a sucker. I will think twice before I play dice with you! You have won $1.
Sailor invites you to play “Going to Boston”
At the start of the game, place your bet. T okay guys this is waste LaBelle okhen at your turn:
- Click the cup to gather the dice, shake it and release to throw 3 dice.
- Click the die with the highest number to set it aside.
- Throw the other 2 dice and take the highest number, setting it aside that die.
- Throw the last die and take that number.
- Add up the 3 numbers for your throw total.
- Highest score after 3 rounds wins.
Win $1, Win $2
Day #3 Hey Sailor! You have a lucky smile today. Do you want to play another game of dice?
1st watch 8:00 PM to Midnight: Sleep
Boy Another month passes, and you earn $8 in wages. You now have $25 in your savings
After completing a level, you may be promoted to the rank of an ordinary seaman.
- Money Earned:
- Popularity: Despised /
The The USS Constititon Museum has some other resources that teachers may find useful.
Additional resources for Educators are listed below.
A Sailor’s Life Live Education Series: Teachers may want to preview the videos to identify the most useful sections to share with a class.
- Symbols & Superstitions (42:42) Do you have a good luck charm? USS Constitution sailors had their superstitions too. In this episode, find out what brought them good luck and bad luck at sea. Play Rats in the Hold game, View the letter to Lewis Bush
- Ship Design (45:54): Where is the iron in “Old Ironsides”? In this episode, learn all about the design and construction of USS Constitution. Watch the Animated Launch Video
- Back to School with Midshipmen (35:04): Yup, even sailors had to go back to school too. In this episode, we focus on USS Constitution‘s midshipmen, the teenagers on board learning how to be an officer. View Pardon Mawney Whipple’s objects, View navigation objects
- Day in the Life of a Boy (42:23): Be prepared to scrub the deck, grab powder, and pass some messages! It’s all in a typical day for the youngest and least experienced members of the crew: the Ship’s boys. Play Scrub the Decks mini-game Play Powder Run mini-game
- Sailor Health & Medicine (37:58): From a bone saw to “biting the bullet,” this episodes describes medical practices on USS Constitution. View the List of Ship Medicines and Instruments Read the “Consigned to a Seaman’s Grave” Blog Post
- Sailor Uniforms (45:11): We’re unpacking our seabag to learn about 1812 sailor uniforms! In this episode, see and compare different uniforms- from the enlisted men to the captain.View John Lord’s Object Collection View Isaac Hull’s Dress Sword Make a Marine Stock
- USS Constitution‘s Firepower (42:58): In honor of USS Constitution‘s 21-gun salute for Independence Day, learn all about the ship’s mighty firepower. Do you have what it takes to join the gun crew? Play Ready, Aim, Fire! Mini Game Make and Fire Your Own Cannon
- Animals on USS Constitution (37:02): Animals–both real, and used in ship terminology–always lived among the sailors on USS Constitution. From dragons to jaguars to raging eagles, this episode explores the animal kingdom on board. Listen to ‘Guerriere the Terrier’ Play Rats in the Hold Mini Game
- Sailor Hobbies and Games (45:21): Life on a Navy warship might seem like all work and no play. But 1812 sailors did have a chance to relax! This episode shows how they spent their free time. Play a Dice Game View Purser Thomas Chew’s Object Collection Make your own Scrimshaw
- Music on USS Constitution (39:51): Whistle, drum, sing and trumpet in this episode. In this episode, we look at the ways music and instruments were important to daily life on a wooden warship. View the Boatswain’s Pipe View the Speaking Trumpet
- Sailor Food and Meals (46:07): Hungry for ship’s biscuit and dandyfunk? Get ready to chow down as you learn about what sailors ate on board. Cook a Ship’s biscuit Cook Dandyfunk Cook Switchel and Hot Chocolate
- Sailor Chores, Part I (36:55): Like many of us, sailors had to do chores regularly to keep their ship clean. On this episode, you’ll stow your hammock, scrub the decks and clean the head. Play Scrub the Decks mini-game Play Don’t Spill mini-game
- Sailor Chores, Part II (40:57): There are always more chores to be done if you’re a sailor on USS Constitution! On this episode, learn about washing dishes and clothes on board ship. View the HMS Guerriere dinner plate View the wardroom decanter
- Communication at Sea, Part I (37:25): Without radios or cell phones, how did sailors communicate with fellow crew members or other ships? Objects like a speaking trumpet and signal flags are featured in this episode. View the speaking trumpet Signal Flag activity
- Communication at Sea, Part II (42:14): Learn about two more ways sailors communicated on board USS Constitution: with a Boatswain’s pipe or invisible ink messages! View the Boatswain’s pipe