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Gail S Hennessey's picture
Gail Skroback Hennessey taught for over 33 years, teaching sixth grade in all but two years. She earned a BA in early secondary education with a concentration in social studies and an MST in social...
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Ideas Are All Around Us...Historical Fiction (Mrs. Paddington and the Silver Mousetrap Shoppe)

Ideas are all around us waiting for us to notice them. I never thought when I took a photograph of a 1690 building in Lincoln's Inn Field, London, last month that it would spark me to want to learn more about the unusual shop. The shop with the unique shop sign was a jewelry store, A. Woodhouse & Son. It had a reputation in the 18th for its silver mousetraps! This caused me to stay up one night late into the wee hours because a woman named Mrs. Muriel Paddington was waiting for me to tell her story. Eager to have a unique high hairdo for the Moonlight Ball, Mrs. Paddington comes up with the idea of having a windmill placed in her hair by her hairdresser, Mrs. Blinkhorn. Because of the long process to make the hairdo, Mrs. Paddington, like other women of the time, didn't wash their hair for weeks at a time. And, the sugar water and beef marrow used in the hairdos attracted bugs...and mice. Mrs. Paddington decides she must make a visit to the Silver Mousetrap...

I've written an historical fiction (nine pages) on the custom of the 18th century of very towering hairstyles. Women wore hair about 3 ft. tall and this caused lots of problems. Door entrances had to be lengthened. Carriages couldn't accommodate the high hairdos, so some women stuck their head outside the carriage window! Taking hours to create, women went weeks without washing their hair. Some slept in a sitting up position to keep from flattening their hairdos! With sugar water and beef tallow used to keep the hair in place, bugs and mice were attracted to the hair. Back scratchers became a fashion accessory for women who wore the high hairstyles!

This story uses fiction and historical facts. Your students will enjoy reading the story, Mrs. Paddington and The Silver Mousetrap Shoppe, or having it used as a listening activity. Comprehension and extension activities (writing in the content) are included.

Gail Hennessey