Question Sheet: An Ancient Childhood


Before reading:

  1. Why do you think there’s practically nothing written about kids in most history books? 
  2. How have toys changed since you were little?

During reading:

  1. Why was St. Augustine, Florida, an ideal place to study childhood in the past? 
  2. On which period of history does Waters focus her research? 
  3. In St. Augustine, how were homes with children different from homes without children? 
  4. What purposes could toys for children serve? 
  5. Why is Bruegel’s painting of children playing important for people studying childhood throughout history?

After reading:

  1. In what ways would your own childhood be like that of a kid hundreds of years ago in St. Augustine. In what ways would it be different? 
  2. It seems obvious that poor kids would have fewer toys than rich kids have. Why might it be important for anthropologists or archaeologists to find evidence to support this notion? 
  3. What does an anthropologist do? See (American Anthropological Association). How does that differ from what an archaeologist does? See (Current

    Archaeology). In what ways are the fields of anthropology and archaeology


  4. This article points out that kids are important to study because they’ll grow up to be the next generation. What sorts of toys would help kids prepare for the adult world? 
  5. If you were interested in studying the role of kids in history, where could you go to find additional information? What sort of research could you do? See (Digital History, University of Houston).


  1. Where is St. Augustine, Fla.? How big is the city today? What are its main tourist attractions? What are the city’s main industries? See (City of St. Augustine) and 
  2. When did Spanish settlers first arrive at St. Augustine? When did it become part of the United States? When did archaeological research start in St. Augustine? See (Florida Museum of Natural History).


  1. Paintings are an important historical record. Today, people often use photography to provide similar records. Buy a disposable camera or use your own

    camera to document some aspect of how kids live their lives today. Create a scrapbook displaying the photos, with a description of what’s going on in each photo. Write the description in such a way that it might be helpful and meaningful to someone who sees it 100 years from now. 

  2. Interview an older person about what his or her childhood was like. Write a brief account about how childhood has changed. Is it better or worse now? In what ways?


In the year 2000, St. Augustine, Fla., had a population of 11,592 people. Of these people, 5,311 were male. How many were female? What percentage of the population was female? The city’s total area is 10.7 square miles. If the city’s land area is 8.4 square miles, what percentage of the city’s area is water? What was the city’s population density in 2000?