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 section On Class Size and Parent Officer Numbers on the Teachers Get Ready! Webpage. 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 do not feminize a man’s name so a girl can portray that person.
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. Please try to mix up the groups. It is encouraged that girls are in the militia and boys are also cooks. Please do not let all of your most difficult students go into one group together. And it’s especially important to avoid assigning overly aggressive children to the Militia group, as this too often leads to a sour experience for all involved.
You can use the Additional Resources for 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 states 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 name at all times.
Teachers should choose a name from the list of five managers who were at Settlement Ross. Parents should use a name from the list within the Role Group – Role Play Characters. Additional officers, such as roving officers or photographers, should use the Additional Officer Role Play Characters 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.
- Artisans – Artisans Role Group, Printable PDF – v10042018
- Clerks – Clerks Role Group, Printable PDF – v11132018
- Cooks – Cooks Role Group, Printable PDF – v10042018
- Gardeners – Gardeners Role Group, Printable PDF – v10042018
- Gatherers – Gatherers Role Group, Printable PDF – v10052018
- Hunters – Hunters Role Group, Printable PDF – v10112018
- Militia – Militia Role Group, Printable PDF – v11132018
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 work force of Ross into 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 here at Ross took their place in many areas. Some were language interpreters for the Company, some worked in the fields, or as cowherds, and most took their place with their family needs. We know they played a major role here at Ross performing the daily tasks of family and community survival.