Friday, January 29, 2016

Sandoxes in School

My posts for this author page will consist of reprints from my blog site. I decided I'd share historical tidbits with my readers and connect them with the characters in my novel. Emma, who is now a teacher in a Racine elementary school, attended school in a one-room school in rural Juneau, Wisconsin. Maybe her school had some of the same things as this one-room school. Hope you enjoy!

This week my grandson starts pre-school. I’m sure his room will be filled with all kinds of fun educational things to play with. Will he have blocks or Legos in his room? Maybe he has a toy store with play money to teach him about shopping.

I doubt if he’ll have a sandbox in his classroom. A long time ago this was a common teaching tool. When both of my parents went to one-room schools, they had a sandbox in each of their schools. Since this was a totally new concept to me,  I interviewed them so we’d have eye-witness information in this blog.

Connie: How big was the sandbox in your classroom?

Dad: It was about six feet long and three feet wide, but was on a three foot high table. The edges were six inch high with an inch and a half lip on them. That was to keep the sand inside of the sandbox.

Mom: The foundation on the table was wooden, but it was overlaid with a tin for the bottom for the sandbox. They did that so any water added to the sand to build things wouldn’t leak all over the floor.

C: Who played in the sandbox? Was it for the little kids during recess?

M: No, no. It was never used during recess time at all. It wasn’t for the littlest students to play in. It was only used for “projects”.

D:  That’s right. It was used for geography or social studies class projects by the upper graders. Things like building mountains or maybe an Indian village. The sandbox would be used by one grade for their project for a couple days. After it was completed and graded, the sand would be smoothed out for the next project.

C: What types of things were taught with the projects?

D: We had all types of projects.  In one instance we made an Indian village scene by cutting out the characters and teepees from cardboard. Another time we made the pilgrim story in the sandbox.

If you needed a lake in the scene, a piece of blue paper was laid in the bottom of the sandbox and covered by a piece of glass. Then boats could be put on the lake if need be. Around the lake you could make hills or mountains. If you needed a fort, you’d just add water to the sand to build the hard walls.

C: What’s the most memorable project you can remember in the sandbox?

D: One time we built a Florida beach scene with cardboard palm trees, but the most fun one was building a farm. We would bring toy animals, tractors, and other things from home and make a huge farm scene. We made white fences and a cardboard barn. We even made a road by getting the sand wet and hard and driving toy cars on it.

C: The most important question... who cleaned up the mess all over the floor after you worked in the sand?

M: There was no mess. Since it was three feet off the ground, no one got in the box. If any sand spilled out on the floor in the creation of a scene, you were expected to get out the broom and clean it up yourself. That’s the way things worked in school back then.

M: I think that the sandboxes in schools back then were like computers today. They were used by students for educational purposes, and yet it was fun at the same time.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for your insights. Some days it seems like it would be nice if life could be simpler and children could learn by playing in sandboxes in schools. I bet there are kids who’d love that. Have fun in school tomorrow!

Monday, January 25, 2016

My Grandson Is Even Excited About "Guide Me Home"!

His mother sent this picture to me telling me that he was so excited about Grandma's book. I decided to share this with you all. 

He's only 4 years old, so he hasn't read it, but he sure looks like he's telling you to get a copy and read it for yourselves. 

This 1920s novel is the story of a Christian school teacher's adventures during the Roaring Twenties. 

Check it out at today.  

Friday, January 22, 2016

Reviews are coming in!

As my book is being read, I'm starting to get feedback from readers. Here's what one reader wrote:

"Outstanding, amazing, wonderful. Not sufficient words to express the enjoyment I experienced reading your book, 'Guide Me Home'. I just couldn't put it down. I especially appreciated the Christian atmosphere in the story. When does the next book come out? I certainly want one. God's blessings, Sandy Armstrong"

To Sandy I say, "Thanks so much for your kind words. I don't know when the next one will come out. It's hard finding time to work on it lately." :) 

Check it out for yourself on

Sunday, January 17, 2016


 Yesterday, I had a fantastic turnout for my Book Launch Party of "Guide Me Home" at Northwestern Publishing House. 

More than 30 people attended the event. 

Fellow ACFW member Terri Wangard did a fine job of introducing me to the attendees. 

I donned a cloche hat and beads and became my heroine Emma Ehlke describing what life was like in 1926. 

I read the first couple pages of "Guide Me Home" to introduce the book. My book is launched. Thanks so all of you who attended. I really appreciate it!

My book is available at the NPH Christian Bookstore and their online catalog or at

Friday, January 15, 2016

Are You Getting Cold Feet?

When Emma and Vivi visited the farm at Thanksgiving time, they borrowed her mother's bed warmer to get the sheets warm before they climbed into bed. Here's a look at what Emma's might have looked like. 

Well, it's that time of the year. My feet are always cold - just ask my husband. From now until about May first, I go to bed with socks on - and that doesn't even help sometimes. I can't go to sleep when my feet are cold, so it's nothing to laugh at. Does that happen to you?

How did people keep their feet warm in the 20s and 30s? Especially since some houses were so cold that water pitchers sitting in a bedroom on a cold winter morning would have a thin layer of ice on top? How would feet stay warm in that circumstance?

The answer - foot warmers, sometimes called bed warmers. Bed warmers have actually been used long before the 20th Century. In previous centuries bed warmers were metal devices shaped almost like a frying pan with a cover and a very long handle.

Most sources said hot coals were placed inside the warmers, then the long handle made it possible to pass the warmer around between the sheets warming the bed before it was time to sleep. Stephen Shepherd on his blog Full Chisel Blog discredits this notion. He said coals immediately would be extinguished when the lid closed because of lack of air. Also, when the warmer moves over the sheets it leaves a fine dusting of coal ash behind. Not in my bed.

Stephen puts forth the idea that these warmers were actually loaded with hot stones prior to warming up the beds. The stones would have been heated by the fireplace during evening hours, then placed inside the warmer and put in beds to prepare them for sleepers. Rocks hold the heat longer and would not leave dirt behind. Makes sense to me.

Another type of bed warmer, made in the early 20th Century, was sometimes called a "hot water pig."
Made out of pottery, it was formed into the shape of a jug lying on its side. After pouring hot water into the hole on the top, a cork was placed into the opening to prevent leakage. The bottom of the warmer was flat so it didn't roll around in the bed. The warmer was placed at the foot of the bed so cold feet would absorb the heat, but not be burned at night. The person kept this warmer in bed for continuous heat several hours until the water cooled off. Then, according to a first-hand account by my mother, the "pig" was taken out of the bed for the remainder of the night.

This type of warmer was versatile enough to be used in other instances. Since it was so portable, a person could take it in a carriage or car ride to warm feet. It was sometimes even seen at Sunday morning church services to keep people warm in drafty churches. They were even taken on trains to keep the passengers warmer during the trip.

Maybe I'll try to get my hands on one of those "hot water pigs". It might help save my marriage since I keep freezing out my hubby with my cold feet. Just teasing. ; )

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Invitation to a Book Launch Party!

Mark this date on your calendar: Saturday, January 16th at 2:00

Location: Northwestern Publishing House Christian Bookstore 

Your are cordially invited to attend my book launch party at NPH Bookstore. I'll be introducing my characters, my road to publication, and read a sample of my writing. Come join us for refreshments and fun along with door prizes. 

Hope you can join in this party!!

Monday, January 4, 2016


For a limited time "Guide Me Home" will be on sale at AMAZON.COM for as low as $.99. 

In honor of my 2:00 January 16th Launch Party at 

a sale of my Christian historical fiction is underway. 

The sooner you order the Kindle version of my book, the less it costs. Please check out the Amazon website to see when the cost will increase go the next price level. Sale is for one week only!

Friday, January 1, 2016

"Guide Me Home" E-Cover Entered into a Contest

My  E-Cover was entered into a book cover contest at e-Cover Design Awards. It won an honorable mention with the following comments: 
Connie Cortright submitted Guide Me Home designed by Lisa Hainline. “The story takes place in 1926 in Wisconsin. My heroine travels by train several times in the book, so the cover shows the train tracks in the background. She is carrying an old suitcase and has gloves on which is appropriate for the time period. It pulls the reader into the historical setting.”

Guide Me Home
JF: Another delicate historical cover, one that uses its soft colors and soft focus to create an appealing atmosphere.

Contest results found at THE BOOK DESIGNER.COM