Voices of America 

Welcome to the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences Voices of America Curriculum Activities. 

Scroll down the page and explore the various lessons for grades K – 5, and check out the links at the bottom of the page for even more useful information, images to use with the lessons and a list of relevant WV 21st Century Content Standards and Objectives.  





- Discuss early coal mining in West Virginia. 
- Answer some of the following questions. 
    Who were the early coal miners? 
    Where did they come from?
    Who was allowed to work in the mines?
    Where in West Virginia were the early coal towns or camps?
    Why was coal mining a popular way to earn a living?
    What were the risks of being a coal miner?
    What tools or equipment did early coal miners use?
- Find counties in West Virginia that currently have or have ever had operational coal mines and mark them on a map. 
    http://www.wvgenweb.org/wvcoal/minelists.html

- Find the county in which you reside. 
   Are there currently or have there ever been operational coal mines in your county?
   How does coal mining play a role in your everyday life?

- Trace the “life” of a mined piece of coal and make notes about each major step of the journey
   http://www.eia.doe.gov/kids/energy.cfm?page=coal_home-basics

 
 
- Look at works by William Scott from the Clay Center’s Permanent Collection of Art.   
   - Explain when these works were created and possibly what was taking place in the state/country at that time.  
   - Discuss the works and material he used to create his works.
   - Brainstorm adjectives to describe his work or the feeling his work gives you.
   - How does his work relate to life and work in the coal fields of WV at that time?
   - How does the artist’s use of subject matter and materials help us to identify with the work and life of the coal miner at that time?
   - Does the medium help give the work a certain feel?
   - What colors does he use?  How does this affect the mood of each piece? As a class, create a mural tracing the “life” of a piece of mined coal.

- Divide students into five groups of 3-5 students each (depending on class size)
   - Assign each group a step in the “life” of a piece of mined coal
   - If necessary, assign each student in the group a task (e.g. researcher, drawing planner, artist, etc.)
   - Discuss that they should approach their drawing by highlighting the main part in their step of the process (e.g. processing coal = draw conveyor belt to a plant where coal is being washed)
   - How can they use materials and colors to convey an idea in their section of the mural?
   - After the drawings are complete, hang each section together to complete a mural depicting the “life” of a piece of mined coal.

Wrap up:          
  - Discuss the pros and cons of being an early coal miner.
  - Discuss the pros and cons of mining coal.
  - Discuss what the students learned about the process of mining and using coal.
  - Review how coal is used in our everyday lives

Optional: Discuss possible methods to improve the safety of coal mining or possible alternatives to coal mining.   



  


 
- Discuss early coal mining in West Virginia. 

- Answer some of the following questions.
   - Who were the early coal miners? 
   - Where did they come from?
   - Who was allowed to work in the mines?
   - Where in West Virginia were the early coal towns or camps?
   - Why was coal mining a popular way to earn a living?
   - What were the risks of being a coal miner?
   - What tools or equipment did early coal miners use?

- Divide students into five groups of 3-5 students each (depending on class size).
   - Assign each group a different WV coal camp or have students research WV coal camps and make a selection of their choice.
   - Web Resources: 
      coal mining camps/towns in WV 
      website dedicated to Matewan, WV 
      coal mining information especially pertaining to Coalwood, WV

- Allow the group time to research the history of their coal camp and answer the following questions. 
    - Where is your coal camp located on the map? 
    - Where did the coal camp get its name?
    - In what years was it a busy mining community (peak years)?
    - Describe the buildings, homes, businesses, entertainment sources, etc. in the town during those peak years.
    - Name 1-2 mines that were active in that coal camp during the peak years of the coal camp
    - What does the town look like today?
    - Do people still live there?
    - Is mining still the prime industry in that town? Have student groups write a short story about life during the peak years in their coal camp. 

Allow them to use a mixture of fiction and non-fiction, but stress the importance of using factual details about the camp such as location, names of mines, buildings, company store, dates of its peak years, etc.


- Look at works by William Scott from the Clay Center’s Permanent Collection of Art
    - Explain when these works were created and possibly what was taking place in the state/country at that time.  

- Discuss the works and material he used to create his works.
    - Brainstorm adjectives to describe his work or the feeling his work gives you. 
    - How does his work relate to life and work in the coal fields of WV at that time?
    - How does the artist’s use of subject matter and materials help us to identify with the work and life of the coal miner at that time?
    - Does the medium help give the work a certain feel?
    - What colors does he use?  
    - How does this affect the mood of each piece?

- Using William Scott’s works as inspiration, have students create a picture based on their short story.  
    - What is the main theme of the story?  
    - How can the mood of the coal camp be depicted in their drawing?   


  



- Discuss early coal mining in West Virginia. 

- Answer some of the following questions.
    - Where do we find coal?
    - How does coal form?
    - How do we remove coal from the mountains?
    - What tools and/or equipment did early coal miners use? (show visual examples)
    - What tools and/or equipment do today’s miners use? (show visual examples)
    - Why is coal useful to us?

- Work with students to find counties in West Virginia that currently have or have ever had operational coal mines and mark them on a map.  
    - Find the county in which you reside.  
    - Are there currently or have there ever been operational coal mines in your county? 
    - Even though coal may not be mined where you live, you probably still use it on a daily basis. 

- Discuss how coal may play a role in our everyday lives
    - Coal is mostly used to generate electricity, but its heat and by-products are used to make steel, plastics, tar, synthetic fibers, fertilizers and medicines. 
   
- Coal mining is an important industry in West Virginia, but are there alternatives to using coal for energy? 
    - Discuss various alternative sources for energy



- Look at works by William Scott

- As a class, answer some of these questions 
    - What do you see in this work of art?           
    - Why do these works make us think of coal mining or industry? 
    - What material did the artist use to create this piece?
    - What colors did he use?
    - What words describe these works (e.g. happy, sad, gloomy, cheery, dark, bright, etc.)?  

Activity 1
- Place visual examples of tools and equipment used by miners in a place where students can see them. 
- Provide students with a coloring sheet of a simple drawing of a man or woman. 
- Allow students to draw coal mining tools and equipment on and around their coal miner or provide students with pictures that they can cut out and collage on and around their coal miner.

- Optional: allow students to use charcoal sticks, chalk pastels or chalk to indicate coal dust on the miners face and clothes.  

Activity 2
- Have students make a list of everyday uses for coal. 
- Allow them time to draw an example of electric-powered equipment or other uses for coal and coal by-products.   





- Discuss early coal mining in West Virginia. 

- Answer some of the following questions.
    - Who were the early coal miners?
    - Who was allowed to work in the mines?
    - Where in West Virginia were the early coal towns or camps?
    - What was life like in the early coal camps?
    - What did coal miners and their families do for fun?
    - Why was coal mining a popular way to earn a living?
    - What were/are the risks of being a coal miner?

- Listen to and/or discuss the lyrics to selected coal mining songs.  

- Good information on music connections to coal mining
    
- What are they singing about?
- What do you learn about coal miners and/or coal mining by listening to these songs or reading their lyrics? 
- Why is this music useful to us today?

- Optional: Do the voices of the singers make a difference in how you hear the lyrics?    

Coal Miner's Blues – by the Carter Family
Some blues are just blues, mine are the miner's blues
Some blues are just blues, mine are the miner's blues
My troubles are coming by threes and by twos

Blues and more blues, it's the coal black blues,... (x2)
Got coal in my hair, got coal in my shoes

These blues are so blue, they are the coal black blues,... (x2)
For my place will cave in, and my life I will lose

You say they are blues, these are the miner blues,... (x2)
Sometimes I forget to sharpen these picks that I use

I'm out with these blues, dirty coal black blues,... (x2)
We'll lay off tomorrow, with the coal black blues    


Sixteen Tons – by Tennessee Ernie Ford  
Some people say a man is made outta mud
A poor man's made outta muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that's a-weak and a back that's strong

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin' when the sun didn't shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
I loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal
And the straw boss said "Well, a-bless my soul"

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin', it was drizzlin' rain
Fightin' and trouble are my middle name
I was raised in the canebrake by an ol' mama lion
Cain't no-a high-toned woman make me walk the line

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

If you see me comin', better step aside
A lotta men didn't, a lotta men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel
If the right one don't a-get you
Then the left one will

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store       



Coal Miner’s Daughter – by Loretta Lynn  

Well, I was born a coal miner's daughter,
In a cabin, on a hill in Butcher Holler,
We were poor, but we had love,
That's the one thing my daddy made sure of,
He shoveled coal to make a poor man's dollar.

My daddy worked all night in the Van Lear Coal Mines,
All day long in a field a-hoein' corn,
Mommy rocked the babies at night,and read The Bible by the coal-oil light,
And everything would start all over come break of mornin'.

Daddy loved and raised 8 kids on a miner's pay,
Mommy scrubbed our clothes on a washboard every day,
Why, I seen her fingers bleed, to complain, there was no need,
She'd smile in mommy's understanding way.

In the summertime we didn't have shoes to wear,
But in the wintertime, we'd all get a brand new pair,
From a mail-order catalog, money made from sellin' a hog,
Daddy always managed to get the money somewhere.

Yeah, I'm proud to be a coal miner's daughter,
I remember well the well where I drew water,
The work we done was hard, at night we'd sleep 'cause we were tired,
I never thought of ever leavin' Butcher Holler.

Well, a lot of things have changed since way back then,
And it's so good to be back home again,
Not much left but the floor, nothin' lives here anymore,
'Cept the memories of a coal miner's daughter.  



- Look at works by William Scott.   

- When you look at these works, does it remind you of any of the music or lyrics we heard? 
    - Does the music help describe the scenes in the art works?
    - Does the music help describe the appearance of the people in the art works?
    - Does the music help capture the mood of the pieces in general?

- Choose one coal mining song. Listen to the song several times or post the lyrics where all students can see them.  
    - Have students try to get a mental image of what picture is being painted by the song.

- After they have gathered a few idea(s), have the students use pencil to draw out a scene based on their interpretation of the song.  
    - Once they complete the pencil drawing, have them fill it in with chalk pastels or watercolor paints.
  

  

Click here  for a list of WV 21st Century Content Standards and Objectives.  
Click here  for our History Scavenger Hunt to use as your students explore the gallery.  
Click here  for images of coal mining tools.  
Click here  for an image of the coal mining man.  

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