Each class can choose up to six role groups. All groups must have Cooks, Clerks, and Militia. The Hunters, the Gardeners or Gatherers, and Artisans are of course good to have, but are optional for much smaller classes. Please review the sections “On Class Size” and “Parent Officer Numbers” on the Teachers Get Ready! page. If you are interested in deviating from the required groups, please contact the ELP Manager to discuss options. Please note when selecting role groups, the Gatherers group is an alternative to the Gardeners — you cannot have both groups!
When assigning roles to students, you can let the students choose their group or you can assign them to a group. Since the groups should be roughly equal in size, you may have to do some switching. Make sure that you have children assigned to groups before the first parent meeting.
We have provided characters of real people who lived at or near Colony Ross. Please use these characters. Students will take on a character that was part of each role group. For example: an Alaska Native inhabitant works best for a child in the Hunter’s group. A Kashia inhabitant is best for a gardener and so on. The character names relevant for each group are listed within that role group section. Please keep the names historically accurate.
The educational experience of the ELP is greatly enhanced when students actively play the role of a historic resident of Fort Ross. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of role-play in the ELP experience. Try to mix up the groups — it is encouraged that girls are in the militia and boys are also cooks. Do not assign all your most difficult students to the same group. It is especially important to avoid assigning aggressive children to the Militia group, as this often leads to a sour experience for all involved!
You can use the Additional Resources for a link to our digital library and a list of reference books which will provide ideas for character development — Russian America: A Biographical Dictionary by Richard A. Pierce is especially good, as are Istomin’s The Indians at the Ross Settlement: According to the Censuses by Kuskov, 1820-1821, and Death in the Daily Life of Colony Ross, by Sannie Kenton Osborn. The Fort Ross Visitor Center has an excellent bookstore and library.
The students should put a lot of energy into learning and writing about their character and even designing a costume. Through this process of trying to understand at least one person who lived at Fort Ross, each student will have a much better idea of how people lived and interacted as a whole at this settlement.
Have each student make their official papers that state his/her character name. While at the fort the student will carry his/her papers at all times. Encourage both students and parents to use only character names at all times.
Teachers should choose a name from the list of five managers who were at Settlement Ross (Teachers Role Play Characters webpage). Parents should use a name from the list within their assigned role group (role play characters webpages are supplied for every group). Additional officers, such as roving officers or photographers, should use the Additional Officer Role Play Characters webpage list.
Here is a list of all the role groups. To read about each role group and learn about their activities, characters, costumes, preparation, and duties while at Fort Ross, click on each name.
About Role Play – Having fun in the classroom is a must while learning history. Kids love to get dressed up and take on real character personas. The educational experience of the ELP is greatly enhanced when students actively play the role of a historic resident of Fort Ross. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of role play in the ELP experience. After the students trace the roots of some of the characters from Ross, maybe they would like to trace their own family history.
Settlement Ross was a multi-ethnic community. The Russian administrators classified the multi-ethnic workforce of Ross into these four major classes: the Russians, the Creoles, the Aleuts, and the Indians. The different jobs and titles here at Ross were many. You have Administrators, military officers, clerks, soldiers, navigators, sailors, craftsmen, tree fallers, hunters, laborers, and much more. Within those job descriptions there are many specific titles. For example with the craftsmen, there was a coppersmith, tanner, blacksmith, mason, and coal miner.
The women at Colony Ross took their place in many areas. Some women were language interpreters for the Company, some worked in the fields, or as cowherds, and most took their place caring for their families’ needs. We know they played a major role at Ross performing the daily tasks of family and community survival.