One Room School

As kids head back to school this week here, I’ve been thinking about a time when school was a little simpler.

It wasn’t difficult to find the right door to enter.

Finding your teacher wasn’t hard either – there was only one. She sat at the head of the class with a bell on her desk.

Class sizes were small. In fact, all the grades fit into one room. And the heating system was pretty reliable too.

The water fountain required a little effort.

And there was plenty of fresh air and room to play at recess.

Did you or someone you know attend a one room school?


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Cattle, corn, wheat, beans, mud, snow, ice, and drought. Plenty of fresh air and quiet. Our life is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes joyous, but never boring.

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63 Responses

  1. Maggie says:

    I don’t think I know anyone who went to a one room school… but I used to wish I did when I was younger. The Little House on the Prairie books were my favorite, and I wanted to be just like Laura. 🙂

  2. Carola says:

    Hi, just found your site and enjoy it! I live in Kansas but grew up in South Dakota. And yes, I did attend a one room school. I have fond memories of the experience & I can relate to a lot of your pictures. The only thing you omitted in your pictorial are the outhouses, one for the girls & one for the boys. Not so fond memories of those. 😀

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Carola,
      You must have gotten really close to your classmates. Have you stayed in touch with them? When I see a one room school that has been restored, they don’t usually restore the outhouses. Not hard to wonder why. 🙂

  3. I also was a “Little House on the Prairie” fan. But I also know someon who did attend a one room school house with all the grades there in one room. If I remember correctly there were only 9 children attending the school. He is now in his 80’s and he said he would have to battle the winter snow to go out to the out house which was about 50 feet away from the school.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Karen,
      Oh wow. I can’t imagine going to an outhouse during our KS winters. Brrrrrr…….
      Thank you for visiting,

  4. I’m still a Little House fan. TV, books and now the places (still need to get to Minnesota and Wisconsin).
    I knew a lady who taught in a one room school. She met her husband that way (one of her students). They’re both gone now but were great friends of my parents.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Gardener,
      I’ve been to the Little House down there near Independence. Pretty neato to read her book after having been to the house.

  5. I grew up near a very small town in so. Wisconsin. On the drive to and from there was a one-room school house that someone had converted into a house. I always thought it was so beautiful. Small, but beautiful…

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Kim,
      There was a one room school house up the road from where I grew up, but it is gone now. There were so many of them back then.
      Thank you for visiting.

  6. What beautiful pictures!!! Makes me wish for simpler times…almost.

  7. Shailaja says:

    An interesting peek into an aspect of life in the US in the bygone days. In India we still have such schools in the villages. The only difference is that while your one-room schools had 9 children ours have 90 🙂

  8. Glyndalyn says:

    My mother started teaching in a two room school in Fairfield TN in about 1934. There was no money for her to finish her degree so she was hired in Fairfield. Later, she went back and graduated. Mama made $50/month and paid $15/month room and board. The distance between Fairfield and where she grew was only about 7 miles but that was too far to travel to and from school.

  9. Granny J says:

    Hi….I just found you and love your site.

    I attended a two room schoolhouse in Arizona. We had two teachers…one was the offical teacher and my Great-Aunt was her assistant. 1st – 5th grades were in one room with 6th – 8th in the other. I was the only first grader and when I needed to sharpen my pencil I had to walk into the “older” kids room. They use to tease me about being short and not being able to reach the pencil sharpener…it must have been traumatic as that is about my only 1st grade memory. We did have indoor plumbing at school but not at the only church in town! I’m only 48 yrs. old…yet I remember rotary phones, party lines, Grandma getting the first TV in town and hanging on the antenna pole to perfect the snowy reception. 😉

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Granny,
      I’m only 42 years old, and I remember rotary phones, party lines, and holding onto the tv antenna to improve reception. Thanks for sharing your memories about school!
      Stop by again,

  10. mary m says:

    In 1952, I attended 1st. grade at Half Moon school,near
    Whitefish/Columbia Falls, Mt. Each row was a grade. We
    had a big wood burning stove in the school. My older brother got to ring the school bell. We had electricity,
    but a hand pump for water in front of the school. A small 2 room bunk-house to sleep in next to the school. A kitchen inside the main entrance for cooking. My mom was
    the teacher. Two outhouses behind the school were boys and girls bathrooms..My dad taught at Bad Rock school a
    few miles down the road. I loved our one year living there. Mary M , Vancouver, Wa. ps…we bathed in a copper boiler.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Mary,
      Thank you for sharing your story. Sounds very different than school today. Must have been uncomfortable to have your Mom as a teacher at times.
      Thank you for visiting.

  11. Christina says:

    Monday at 7 for me too although I really loved everyone of the books. I read them again a few years back. I’d like to do that again.

    I enjoyed reading everyone’s comments about 1 room schools as well! Really cool photos.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Christina,
      I read the first book a while back. A very good read even though it was written for children. I loved it.

  12. Kelly says:

    My grandmother met my grandfather at the one room schoolhouse where she taught. He brought the wood and stoked the fire in the winter!

  13. Suzanne!! Have i got a story for you!! My father in law attended a one room school house when he was a child…..and….he accidentally burned it to the ground!! True story! While he was a student at that school he was also the janitor. He used to come in early to start the fire in the wood stove to get the school warmed up before the other students came in. While he was doing some cleaning, the teacher came running into the school and was yelling “Gene the school is on fire! get out!” They figured an ash must have flew up the smoke stack and caught the roof on fire…you know, back in the olden days, things weren’t as fire proof as they are now! Boy, he sure does like to tell that story! No one was hurt…no one was at school yet, so that was a good thing! He is 87 years old right now, so you know that was a long time ago! He grew up in a little town in West Virginia called Sun Crest. Also, don’t you just love the fact that kids were so much more grown up and responsible enough that a child was allowed to go into school early, unsupervised, and start the fire in the stove to warm the school! I think that is great. Times were sure different then. Nowadays we raise our kids to fear everything and make them believe they can’t do anything unless an adult is right there….me included! One more thing real quick…my father in law also said that they were aloud to bring their hunting guns to school (not sure what kind). He said that if they were going to hunt squirrel after school they would take in their gun and the teacher made them keep it in the coat room until school was over!!!!!! Can you believe that?! Wow! The state of mind of kids back then was very pure though, and guns were respected and used for hunting so you could actually have food on the table! And of course their minds weren’t polluted with horrible visions from video games! Anyhow, I just had to share that with you, I know you would really appreciate those stories. I do get a kick out of stories from long ago!

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Bonnie,
      Oh my! Burned it to the ground? That must have been so traumatic for him at the time. About the guns and school thing, I remember guys carrying guns in the gun rack in their trucks when they came to school. Nobody thought anything of it. They were for hunting.
      Thank you for sharing your stories!

  14. I just now read the comment from Mary M. That is an awesome story. I love that they lived in a bunk house at the school! That is so great! and bathing in a copper boiler…too much. Boy would I love to see photos of her time there. Incredible!

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Bonnie,
      Doesn’t it seem like things have changed a lot with regards to school in a relatively short time? I love looking at old school photos from that time.
      Thank you for visiting.

  15. GinMT says:

    What a beautiful building. So great to see it has been well preserved. The reader who commented on the Little House stories is also what came to my mind when I looked at your photos.


  16. Elaine Snively says:

    We still have a lot of one-room schoolhouses in Ohio. They are found throughout the Amish communities.

  17. I wish we lived in a simpler time…

    Love your posts as always,


    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Kristina,
      I sometimes wish I lived in that time period. But then I think about the advances in medicine, and other things that have improved. But I wish I could live then for just a little while, to see what it was really like.
      Thank you!

  18. Linda says:

    What great stories! My 98 year-old mother attended a one room school in a little town called Hartville, Missouri, and then she taught in one when she graduated high school!

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Linda,
      I’ve heard stories of where students would attend a one room school, and go on to teach there when they were older. Must have been pretty neat.
      Thank you for sharing your story.

  19. Doe of Mi. says:

    Good post, love the comments. When I was 4 we moved from a city to a farm. Where when I was
    5, I started kindergarden in a 1 room school. Now that was 64 years ago so I don’t remember
    to much. Was only there for 2 yrs. But, of all things, I remember the teachers name (Mrs. Sanders) also remember some of the kids and that in the winter my twin sisters (11yrs. older then me) had to come and get me because the snow was so so deep. Also remember getting my lip frozen to the swing set.LOL And one of the assignments was to draw and color
    a picture with a rainbow in it. Mine was of a swan on a lake with the rainbow over its head. Also the 2 kids I walked home (a quarter mile is all) with every day. Isn’t a riot what you remember? This school only went thru grade 8, so my sisters took a bus into town.
    Hey, thanks for the memories, its been lots of fun. Called my 1 remaining sister about it
    and had a real confab about it. Loved it.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Doe,
      Sounds like you have some wonderful memories of your one room school experience. Thank you for sharing!

  20. Julie says:

    That’s a beautiful school! My mom actually attended one up the road from the farm where she grew up in Salem, NH, up until she went to high school. I think it became a grange hall after that–we had our huge family Thanksgiving there at least once, that I remember. Nice thing about the one-room schoolhouse, the style of teaching/learning enable you to not be restricted by age or grade. Totally different atmosphere of learning and helping others. Sometimes, I think I was born in the wrong era and part of the US. 🙂

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Julie,
      I can’t help but think that with the smaller school size that there would have been a lot more one on one attention, which could only have been good for the students. I’ll bet they made friendships too that lasted their lifetimes.

  21. Robin says:

    I did attend a one-room school for my first six grades here in SW Wisconsin. I was the last class to do so. That was in the 1960s. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was a great way to learn. We had the hand pump and (excuse my frankness) the outhouses out back. Those are memories I will forever treasure. Well, not of the outhouses, but of everything else. 🙂

  22. Julie says:

    HAHA… yeah my kids. I homeschooled them for about 7 yrs. So, yep. It felt
    just like that. I loved every minute, except for the time I taught my daugher percentages and she just couldnt get it, I thought I was having a nervous breakdown. Then one day, wahla…she got it. Halluah. Those old buildings are beautiful. Where is that one? surely its just a historical thing now huh?

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Julie,
      Ewww….I had a hard time with percentages too.
      I’m not sure where that school house is. I feel like an idiot, but it was a couple years ago, and we visited several that day, and I just can’t recall exactly where that one is. I know is it somewhere in south central KS, , possibly Waubunsee or Chase county, but that’s the best I can come up with. It’s been restored to its original condition, and is open for tours sometimes.

  23. Peggy says:

    Wow! What a beautiful of school! Someone has really taken good care of that building. You really take super photos!


  24. Carol says:

    I attended a one-room school in Iowa for eight years. Our school was at the northwest corner of our farm, so we walked whether there was rain, snow, or sunshine. For seven years, I was the only one in my class. Our ‘outhouses’ were inside, a bit hard to imagine, I know. One end of the building had been sectioned off for a boys and girls. No heat, so quite the treat in winter! I also had the same teacher – Miss Fowler – for all eight years. A great education though lacking in art and music. I’ve captured some of my country school memories in my memoir “Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl.”

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Carol,
      How could you concetrate on your schoolwork without heat. Must have been hard. Thank you for sharing your memories with us.

  25. Carol says:

    I see how my comment could be misconstrued. There was no heat in the toilet rooms – encouraged us to do our business and get back to class! In the classroom, we had a heating oil stove. The building was not insulated and the windows were single pane. We crowded our desks in around the stove. Dried our snow-soaked mittens out on top of the stove and studied to the smell of scorching wool.

  26. Paula says:

    I went to a one-room school in Minnesota 1st – 6th grade. There were 10 to 15 students total each year. Many years later, there was a school house much like the one you show here, at our county fair. Complete with old desks, books, etc. When I walked in, who was sitting at the teacher’s desk? My old teacher! Talk about deja-vu!

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Paula,
      Oh my, that must have been so strange to see your old teacher sitting there. How wonderful though.
      Thanks for sharing your story.

  27. Patty says:

    Hi Suzanne, I stumbled on your blog from The Pioneer Womans recently and have really been enjoying it as we too live in Kansas. I love the picture of the old school house, we have a neighbor that converted one into their home and it too was made of stone. My husband actually sheetrocked another one that was being converted to a home since he is a drywall contractor so I guess there are several around here still. I have a question for you, in the fourth picture what is the green blob in front of the school desk and do you see the image of a person on the blackboard by the window? It looks like a black person dressed in white to me. Please tell me there was a picture there, (although it dosen’t look like one) and please tell me you see it too. LOL I wasn’t looking for it, it just popped out first thing for me.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Patty,
      Thank you, and welcome! When we visited that schoolhouse, it was not open for visitors, so I had to take pictures of the inside thru the windows. I tried to avoid reflection and glare, but some got in there anyway, and I think that’s what you’re seeing.
      Thanks for visiting!

  28. Patty says:

    I’m sure that’s what it is. Just wanted to tell you I also love seeing your pics of your vegie garden. It inspires me to get out into our poor dried up one. This summer has been so hard on it, first tons of rain and then relentless sun. We live in the country as well in a cedar barn house that we built. It’s not on a farm, just over 5 acres but we love it just the same. 🙂

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Patty,
      Our garden took a beating in the drought too, and looks kinda sorry for itself now. But we got an inch and a half of rain last night, the most we’ve received in over 2 months. So pleased and relieved. The soybeans really really needed it. Your house sounds lovely. I just love cedar. Must smell wonderful.
      Thank you!

  29. OJ says:

    I actually teach in a “one-room” schoolhouse. I guess it isn’t technically a one-room school house, but I am the only teacher. My classroom is housed in a juvenile detention center and it serves any student that is being held in detention. Each child works on a different daily plan, depending on their ability and grade level. We make effective use of our time ~ no pass time for changing rooms, etc. Most students adapt easily and hopefully each one leaves having learned some new skills. I love my job here… but I’m really thankful that I’ve got reliable heat, air, water, and a flush toilet!

  30. Wow. Gorgeous photos!! Man, makes me long for the old days. I wish we still had schools like this. Maybe if we did I wouldn’t feel the desperate need to keep my kids home for schooling! Actually, knowing me, I’d probably be the teacher at the head of that classroom. How fortunate this little school house has been preserved! Thanks for sharing with us!

  31. Euni Moore says:

    There are not many one room school houses left in Colorado unfortunately. My parents, grandparents and great-grandparents went to one room schools, one of them in Maplewood Kansas. Your countryside photos are marvelous.

  32. Becs M. says:

    My dad attended a one room School house in SW KS. My grandma taught there sometime in the early 1920’s and took my dad with her in the buggy. The school was called Silverdale, I think, and was in Finney County. My older brothers MIGHT have attended there when they were very young, I can’t remember. they were quite a bit older. By the time I was old enough for school, we had a “modern” country school and had 2 grades per room/teacher. I attended there until 3rd grade when they started bussing us to town schools. We were at the end of the bus route and closer to other rural busses from the northern end of the county who made daily trips to town anyway, so it made more sense for us to go to town school. I hated it and missed my friends. I think I was the only farm kid that young in our town school.
    Later on, my family bought a home in eastern KS so my younger special needs brother could have a better education in a special school. That’s when I fell in love with eastern KS. My father spent every moment when he wasn’t farming, commuting back and forth- train tickets from western KS to Union Station in KCMO back in 1972 were only 14 bucks…. maybe 22 if it was round trip. We still packed up all our clothes & commuted back to the farm every summer to help with wheat harvest, etc.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Becs,
      Wow.. I wish train service was still available here. That would be awesome. Thank you for sharing your story. Sounds like you have some fond memories of Kansas.
      Thanks for visiting!

  33. Luella says:

    I grew up in Ks too and the pics of the wheat fields & sky are great! When we go back to Ks I always get a good feeling when we get to the prairie, about by Tulsa…So much ROOM!
    My dad attended a one room school near Windom, Ks. He didn’t know English when he started, only Low German. His teachers must have been strict about penmanship because Dad had nice handwriting. He and Mom attended a school reunion when they were in their 70s and got 2 prizes:For traveling the furthest(from Alabama) and having the biggest family(9)!

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