“New England’s Annoyances”
1-2 class periods
11th Grade American Literature
Worlds Meeting, through 1760
Common Core Standards Addressed:
Writing Standards for English Language Arts 6-12
Y’Landa M. Hathorne (2006)
Your students hear a lot about the arrival of the first settlers. They may or may not have read reports about encounters with the Native Americans but in many cases, they still have a vague idea of how those settlers subsisted. This song is presented in hopes of presenting students with a settler’s “voice” that specifically laments of the difficulties of dealing with uncultivated land and a different climate.
Offering a settler’s authentic voice provides the initial segue for introducing the unit titled “America through a Lens.” Since many kids grow up with either the “Pilgrims and Native Americans Sit Down to Thanksgiving” image or the vague idea of settlers landing ashore and almost immediately starting a highly successful colony, “New England’s Annoyances” presents some of the settler’s hardships that are not always fully addressed in history books.
What was life like for the first settlers in New England?
Song used in this lesson:
“New England’s Annoyances”
Pre-listening journal introduction:
Read to students (or post on board if necessary): For years, millions of people have explained to others the American land and culture through their own eyes. Of course, the best people to be able to define a culture are those who have experienced it for themselves.
Some of the first North American settlers came to colonize various parts of the Eastern shoreline. Once they landed, a large percentage of settlers had to farm to survive. With farming, as you can imagine, came many hardships. In fact, in 1643, a musical record was made of some of the hardships that a settler had to face. (2-3 minutes)
1. Optional: Ask the students to jot down what they know about the following:
2. Journal question
Post on board: Listen to the song that I am about to play for the first time. (DO NOT REVEAL TITLE TO STUDENTS YET). While listening, jot down any or all of the following:
3. Post-Listening journal discussion (as a group, aloud):
Use this time to share student thoughts. Use the bulleted “leads” above to begin discussion. If the students take the discussion from one thing to the next, let them. You should serve as the link for their thoughts and as the one who reigns in the discussion if it begins to go astray. Use this time to validate instead of expound.
Shortly after the discussion has peaked, set up to play the song a second time. Where the class is at this point depends on what the students have garnered from the first listen and from their discussion. If they are a little off in their understanding of the song, you may want to preface the second listen with something similar to: “I hear that much of the class believes this song to be about (subject). Let us see, upon listening for a second time, if the overall consensus remains the same.”
4. Second listen: Post on board:
Reveal the title of the song and pass out the lyrics (2-3 minutes)
5. Post-Listening journal discussion (as a group, aloud):
Give two to three minutes for students to jot down their “after” thoughts. Offer them the following questions as a guide:
Briefly discuss student responses in large group. (3-4 minutes)
6. Reinforcing the idea of seeing America through multiple lenses:
Extending the Lesson
What were some hardships when farming in America during the early to mid-17th century?
What tools were used? What clothes were worn?
“New England’s Annoyances” (Anonymous)
[Only the first four stanzas are provided here]
New England’s Annoyance you that would know them
Pray ponder these verses which briefly doth show them.
The place where we live is wilderness wood,
Where grass is much wanting that’s fruitful and good.
From the end of November till three months are gone,
The ground is all frozen and hard as a stone
Our mountains and hills and the vallies below,
Being commonly covered with ice and with snow.
And when the north-wester with violence blows,
Then every man pulls his cap over his nose;
But if any’s so hardy and will it withstand,
He forfeits a finger, a foot, or a hand.
When the ground opens we then take the hoe,
And make the ground ready to plant and to sow;
Our corn being planted our seed being sown,
The worms destroy much before it is grown.
Copyright 2011-2012 Center for American Music, University of Pittsburgh Library System