Pressing the Point

Pressing the Point


Level:  Moderate: Day 4 – Follow-up activity

Time:  40 minutes

          Old “No. 1”
          The Massachusetts Spy



typefaces, composing stick, galley, galley proof, chase, platen, bar, barter, allegorical figure, almanacs

Students will understand:
1)     how the printing process works;
2)     how one person/job can affect history;
3)     how printing has influenced history; and
4)     the importance of printing in spreading history.

NOTE:  This activity should be done after the lesson The Life and Times of Isaiah Thomas (Moderate: Day 1) so that the students can comprehend the importance of printing to Isaiah.

Ask the students what they remember about the job of being a printer form Isaiah’s visit.  How hard was it for him to do many of the jobs when he was young?  Have the students break up into four groups and read Printing in Isaiah Thomas’s Time Essay, up to “Early American Newspapers”.

When they are done, have the students web the different jobs that are involved in making a newspaper or a book – making linen, making paper, setting type.  Students should be given copies of the picture of Old “No. 1”, The Massachusetts Spy, and the Ad for rags.  How many jobs connect to printing?

Assign each group a topic to gather information on from the Printing in Isaiah Thomas’s Time Essay (early American newspapers, broadsides,almanacs, and pamphlets and books).  The groups will perform skits teaching about their topic and how Isaiah Thomas was involved in each of them.

Additional Activities:
  • Using copies of The Massachusetts Spy and the information from the Essay, have students write an essay on how printers affected the world around them, especially the political world.  (This activity encompasses History and Social Studies – Strand Four: Civics and Government; Learning Standard 16: Authority, Responsibility, and Power.)
  • Have students make paper.  There are many books on the topic, and the art teacher should be able to help.
  • Have students practice printing.  The students can use stamps that you and/or they own, or they can create stamps by cutting a potato in half and cutting out a letter or shape on the cut surface of the potato.  To print, use an inkpad or paint.
  • Have students create a classroom or team newspaper.  This can be done by hand or on a computer program.
  • Field trip to the Printing Shop at Old Sturbridge Village.  The shop was Thomas’s own, having been moved to OSV from Worcester.
  • Field trip to a local newspaper printing company or another type of printing company to see how printing is done today.
  • Visit the Newseum web site at  This museum in Arlington, VA, specializes in printed and television news.  The web site has lesson plans, classroom activities, and information on Freedom of the Press (the Constitution).