grandparents' days



The texts published on this Web page were written by my 7th grade students in June 2003 and are a result of the assignment below. They had to visit our blog to find out what they had to do. I gave no instructions in class, only cleared up a couple of doubts. They had approximately three weeks to carry it out.

Since this is their major project this term, I decided to suggest corrections. These are their revised texts.



project work

school in the old days

Interview your grandmother, grandfather or the oldest person in your family. Ask:

  • where and when s/he was born

  • if s/he lived in the city or in the country when s/he was young

  • how many brothers and sisters s/he had

  • where s/he went to school

  • how the school was

  • how many students and teachers there were

  • how s/he learned to write

  • what subjects s/he studied

  • how s/he went to school

  • how far school was or how long it took

  • if s/he had to work and study at the same time

  • at what age s/he stopped studying and why

  • how life was in those days

  • what s/he did in her/his free time

You can ask any other questions that you think are interesting!

Interview your relative in Portuguese, but write your text in English!

You should read Reggie's story again (SB p. 38) and also the stories in our blog (17May03) for a better idea of how you can write your text. You can include a drawing, if you like.

Write it on a separate piece of paper. Give your text a title. When you finish, write your name, class and date. Everybody will do this project. The deadline (prazo) to hand it in is June 12.

I hope to have many interesting descriptions of your grandmother/father's childhood to include in our blog!  :-))

Enjoy yourselves!


7. A


"Hi! My name is Mercês and I have borned in November 1916 at home. I lived in the country and I had 8 brothers and sisters.

My school was near the church. It just had two rooms and it wasn't the same school for all the pupils: there was the girls' school and far away there was the boys' school. In those days boys and girls were separated. We just had one teacher for many pupils and we just learned to write and read in Portuguese.

Our disciplines were just Portuguese and Maths.

We start going to school at the 7 and I went on foot. My home was near the school, so it didn't take very much time. In that time I had to study and work at the same time and in 3rd grade I had to leave school to help my parents. When I didn't have anything to do I played with my friends some games like foottball and 'Macaca'. Nice to meet you! Bye."




I interviewed my mother about school in the old days and she told me very interesting things. Let's see how school was in the old days!

"I was born in Lisbon in 1958 where I lived for 30 years. I have 2 bothers and 2 sisters. I went to a school in Lisbon which had 4 grades, 80 students and 10 to 12 teachers. I learned to write from a little book called "Cartilha de João de Deus" and later I had to study Portuguese, Arithemetic, History, Art, Music, Dance and English.

To get to school I just had to cross the road which took me about 3 minutes. Fortunately, I never had to work to support my studies, and I stopped studying when I got a good job.

In those days life was much less stressful and television was not the main entertainment in a home. In my free time my favorite hobby was and still is to read."

I enjoyed doing this work, because it was interesting to know about school in the old days.

João Luis


My mother was born in Lisbon at 1955. She lived at the city and she has one sister. She went Queen Maria Amélia Secondary School. She said the school was nice and there were a lot of teachers and students. She started to write the a, b, c and later she wrote the words. She studied Portuguese, Maths and others subjects. She went to school by bus, because the school wasn't very near. She didn't study and work at the same time and she stopped study when she finished her course. The life was almost like today. At her free time she played and she readed.

João Pité


In a request of my English teacher, I maked a interview to my Grandparents, Laura and América, about how was their school. This is the result.

Miguel: Hi, Grandma and Grandpa Can I ask you some questions?

Grandma: Sure. Go ahead.

M: First, where and when were you born?

GM: I was born on 12nd July 1942, in Algés.

Grandpa: And I was born in 1935 in São Bento, Lisbon.

M: When you were young, did you live in the city or in the country?

GM & GP: We lived in the city.

M: How many and brothers and sisters did you have?

GM: I'm an only child.

GP: I had one brother, Albano, and one sister, Teresa.

M: When did you go to school?

GM & GP: We were seven years old when we went to school.

M: How was the school?

GM: A bit boring, I wnated to play.

GP: The school was old and there weren't conditions.

M: How many students were there?

GM: I don't remember.

GP: There were about 40.

M: How did you learn to write?

GM & GP: We learned to write in a slate and in a notebook of two lines.

M: What subjects did you study?

GM & GP: We studied Portuguese, Arithmetic, History and Geography.

M: How did you go to school?

GM & GP: On foot.

M: How long did you take?

GM: I took 5 minutes.

GP: I took 10 minutes.

M: Did you study and work on the same time?

GM: No.

GP: Yes, in secondary school. I worked in a workshop of electricity.

M: At what age did you stop studying?

GM: At 16.

GP: At 17.

M: Why?

GM: I went to work, because the course of trade was only 3 years.

GP: Because I couldn't work and studied at the same time.

M: How was the life in those days?

GM: It was normal.

GP: It was hard, because it was very tiring.

M: What did you do in the free time?

GM: I went to the cinema, to dances, to the beach and I walked in Algés.

GP: I wento to the cinema, I walked and I dedicated to the camping.

M: Well, that's all. Thanks, Grands.

GM & GP: You're welcome.



7. B


I'm the grandmother of Vanessa.

I was born in 1932 (nineteen thirty-two) in Lisbon. I lived in the city.

I had 8 (eight) brothers: 7 (seven) boys and 1 (one) girl but I lived with only 4 (four) boys and 1 (girl) because 2 (two) boys die.

My school was in Lisbon. It had 2 (two) teachers and 1 (one) room, where were 4 (four) classes. I learned to write with pencils and nib pens. I studied very subjects: Arithematic, Mathematic, Portuguese, History, Geografy, Ciences and Grammar, but my preference was History and Geografy.

I went to school on foot because it was near my house and I took the way in 5 (five) or 10 (ten) minutes.

I didn't work and study at the same time, but I stopped studying at 13 (thirteen) years old because my father didn't want me outside home.

In the free time I went to the cinema and to theatre, readed and embrioderied. In those days life was very good and I wanted we became to those days.




My grandmother was born in Coimbra on 7th November, 1947. When she was young, she lived in the city. She had a sister and seven brothers.

The school that she attended was old and small. There were thirty students and two teachers. She learned to write with her mother. She studied five subjects: Maths, Geography, History, Music and Portuguese.

The school was far from her house. She go to school by foot. She didn't have to work and study at the same time. She stopped studying when she was eleven years old, because she was was wit her sister and brothers.

Life was difficult in the old days and she didn't have free times.




Hello! I'm Sofia's grandmother.

I lived on a small house when I was a child, and I lived in a village. I had 2 brothers and 1 sister.

I went to the school in the village of Vargos (Torres Novas). My school was small but beautiful, I liked it. There was only one teacher and there were 15 students. We practised writing on a small chalk board. I studied Portuguese and Mathematics.

I walked 10 minutes to school, but I didn't have to work at the same time. I stopped studying at the age of 10, because we needed to work to make money.

My life after school was helping my mother and my father at work. In my free time, I played, but I also helped my mother.




I'm Joana father. I was born on 4th January 1962, in Lisbon. I didn't have any brothers.

My school was in Cascais. It had many windows, two doors and a roof to play. It had only one teacher and 30 students. I learned to write when I learned to read. I studied 4 subjects: History, Mathmatics, Geography and Portuguese.

I went to school on foot and I took about 30 minutes.

I never studied and worked at the same time. I only studied and later worked. I stopped studying at 14, because I didn't want to study more. In those days life was different.

In my free time I played football.



7. C 

My grandmother was born in Benfica on 22nd February in 1936, her name is Lucinda.

Her school called Normal School, in Benfica. The school was big, she said, there were six classrooms, but she doesn't remember how many students were there.

The subjects were Maths, Portuguese, History and Science. She learned to write with the teacher.

She went to sshool with seven years (7) for the first grade. The school was twenty minutes on foot. She only studied, she didn't work.

She left school when she was twelve years (12). She said the life was very hard in those days. She played in her free time.




My English teacher decided to give to us a project work about school in the old days.

I thought interview my grandmother, the oldest person of my family, but she was ashamed then I decided ask some questions to my mother.

Catherine – Mommy where were you born?

Mommy  -  I was born in Azores, a pretty and green island . It`s a lovely place to spend ours holidays .Do you remember when two years ago we spent ours holidays in there?

Catherine – Oh!! Yes, I Enjoyed myself during two weeks and i can’t forget it.

But tell me when were you born?

Mommy – I was born on the3rd February on 1960.

Catherine – Where did you live when you were young?

Mommy – I was from Azores as I told you and I lived there during two years. Then your grandfather was ill and all the family came to Lisbon, and I lived in Parede a lot of years.  It’s a lovely village, isn’t it?

Catherine – Yes, it is. When the Summer arrives,I can swim in the beach, because we live near it.

Catherine – How many sisters did you have?

Mommy – I have two sisters, I am the middle daughter.

Catherine - When did you go to school?

Mommy – I went to school when I was almost eight years old.

Catherine – How was the school?

Mommy – I think it was an old school. It was painted with a white colour. The boys were separated from the girls in different places. In our building there hwere two floors with two classrooms each, a canteento have lunch two or three bathrooms and a big playground.

Catherine – How many students and teachers were there?

Mommy – There wasone teacher and more or less 20 schoolfellows.

Catherine – How did you learn to write?

Mommy – Sorry, but I can’t remember very well. I think it was joining the words.

Catherine – What subjects did you study?

Mommy – I studied Portuguese, Maths, Geography, History and Science.

Catherine – How did you go to school?

Mommy – When I was in the Primary School I went on foot , because the school was near my home. When I went to the High School, I went by train.

Catherine – How far was the school?

Mommy – As I told you in the first case it was near, but in the second case it took half an hour.

Catherine – Did you have to work and study at the same time? At what age did you stop studying and why?

Mommy -  When I was your age, I only studied till I was eighteen year old. Then I married and I stopped study. After that I was divorced and decided to study again, because I like to learn, I have pleasure to know others things and new persons. I went to the Faculty and licensed in Anthropology at two years ago. In this case I worked during the day and I studied at night. Your grandmother was looking after you and your brother, she was a great help to me in those days.

Catherine -  How was your life in those days?

Mommy – My childhood was very happy. I had a lot of friends, I was always a good student, but sometimes I had problems with my father, he was very authoritarian and I was a little disobedient.

Catherine – What did you do in your free time?

Mommy -  In those days few people had a TV and my father hated it and didn’t want to buy one, so I spent my free time reading some books and playing with my friends.  

Catherine – Thanks mammy for helping me to do this work.



  My grandfather name is Alberto, he was born on 9th November 1923 in a place called "Alqueidão da Serra", near Leiria. He was born at his parents' home. He had 4 bothers and 1 sister, and they all lived there.

He went to school when he was 9 years old and left when he was 13, because he needed to work. His school was in Alqueidão da Serra and it was 1 km from his house. He walked there every day.

His school had around forty pupils and only one teacher. All classes were together. In school they studied Geography, History, Mathematics, and they used to write on small chalk boards.

School was not very easy, because he worked to help his parents at the same time.

Today he is 80 years old and is retired. He spends his free time reading.



My grandmother was born in Fermelã (Aveiro) on 1st May, 1937. Her name is Maria Fernanda. When she was young, she lived in the country. My grandmother had one sister and two brothers. 

The school was 600m away. It had four WCs and a courtyard with many trees. There were two teachers and fifty students.

My grandmother learned to write copying, understanding and writing the letters on the board. She studied Maths, Portuguese, History and Geography every day. At the weekend she learned music, sewing. . .

She went to school on foot with her brothers and sister. Unfortunately, she had to work before and after school in the field.

My grandmother stopped studying at ten, because life was complicated. Time was not administrate so she arrived later to school.

In her free time she played with her brothers, and learned to cook and embroider.

Now she is 66 years old.



My grandmother was born in Coja on the 21st of August, 1935.

She lived in a village until she was 21 years old. Then she married my grandfather and they both went to Mozambique.

My grandmother has 1 brother and 1 sister. She went to school in Coja were she was born. The school was very small because it was in a village.

She had one teacher and there were 30 students in the class.

She learned to read and write at school and she had pencils, coloured pencils, pens and chalk. She studied Portuguese, History, Maths, Geography and Science.

She went to school on foot. The school was nearby. She walked for 5 minutes.

She didn't work and study at the same time. She only studied.

She stopped studying when she was 10 years old, because the secondary school was too far away.

Life was very difficult in those days, because of the poverty after the war.

When she was a kid, she used to play with other kids and she made her own toys.



  I am a reporter. My name is Joana. I am writing this interview that I did to my grandmother.

She was born in 1930 in Lisbon, Campo de Ourique. She had two sisters and no brothers.

Every day she walked a half an hour to her school in S. Mamede. The school was big and good, but there was one problem: you had to pay. In her school, there were four teachers (one for each grade - 1st to 4th) and about sixty students (fifteen for each class).

My grandmother learnt to write in an exercise-book with two lines and with pencils or pens that they dipped in ink. Her subjects, in 3rd class, were Portuguese, Mathematics, History, Geography and Science. She didn't have to work and study at the same time, but she stopped studying when she finished the 3rd year (she was nine years old), because she didn't have much money. Life wasn't easy, but she used to have fun in her free time when she played cowboys and skipped rope.






Two weeks ago I asked my grandmother about her old days. Her name is Cristina and she was born in 22nd June, 1945, in Lisbon. She leaved in the city: Lisbon.

My grandmother had five brothers and one sister. But now she has only one sister.

She attended João de Deus School when she was five years old and attended Afonso Domingues School when she was seven years old. They were very big and they had very many pupils and teachers. My grandmother learnt to write with the João de Deus Book (Cartilha João de Deus). In school, she learnt Portuguese, Geography, Science, Religious Studies, Arithmetic and Handicrafts. She went to school by bus. The school was thirty minutes away.

She studied and worked too!!! She left school when she was eleven years old. She continued to study at night because she had to work. In the morning, she started to work at eight o'clock (8.00 a.m.) and finished at half past seven (7.30 p.m.).  Next, she studied and finished at half past eleven (11.30 p.m.).

In her free time, she did the house work.

Ana Cláudia


  Many years ago the students' life was different from ours. Now let me talk about my grandmother's life when she was a student.

She was born in 1935 in China. She lived in the city called Wenzhou. She had 10 brothers. It was an enormous family and I didn't meet everybody.

China was very populated, so her school was big. There were eight hundred students and forty teachers. Every class had sixty students and one teacher for each subject. At school she learned to write on chalk boards and did exercises with a pencil, because she didn't have a pen. She studied Maths, Chinese, Geography, History, Science, Drawing, Music, Gym and Politics. She walked 5 minutes every day to school.

She did homework and also helped her mother with the housework. Sometimes she took care of her brothers. In the weekend she went to her friend's home. They played ping-pong, talked and played games.

My grandmother was a good student, but she stopped studying at 18, because her family was big and poor and she had to earn money for the family.

Our life is better than my grandmother's, so we must study hard.



My grandfather was born in 1932, in China, in a small rural area. He lived on a farm and he had two brothers and three sisters. He went to the school was when he was seven years old. The school was old and small. They had 40 students together in one room, because they was only one teacher. The teacher taught him to write and to read. He studied Chinese, Mathematics, History, and Science. He liked Mathematics very much. He went to school on foot, because the school was near his house. When the school finished, he worked on the farm. He worked every day before and after school, but sometimes he played games with his friends and his brothers. When he was 13 years old he stopped going to school, because he had to help his parents. Life was difficult. But he was a good student.



My family is very big. I'm have a very cool grandmother.

My grandmother was born in Cape Verde on the 30th May of 1930. She lived in Cape Verde on a farm. As a child, she cared for animals: the pigs, the chickens, the horses, the cows, etc. . .

Her family was also very big. She had two sisters and two brothers.

Her school wasn't on the farm, she had to walk to Mindelo (photos: 1, 2, 3, 4). The school was big. It had two long pavilions for the children to play and it also had two camps for football.

My grandmother had only one teacher and eighteen students because she studied until fourth grade. She learned and practiced writing with the cartilha and a small chalk board.

She studied Mathematics, History, Science, Geography and Portuguese. She stopped studying because her parents didn't have money to care for the family.

Today she lives alone, near of my house with her independent life. She is a witness at God and she walks to costumers distribuing papers with her friends.





This is the story of my grandmother, her name is Maria Alice. Her childhood was very difficult.

My grandmother was born in Lisbon in 1941 and she lived in the city. She had many brothers and sisters, three girls and two boys.

Her school was in Alvalade. The school was big and had many students and teachers. She learned to write in small chalk boards. She studied Science, Geography, History, Grammar and Maths. She went to school on foot, because it was near - ten minutes away from home. My grandmother didn't work, she only studied.

She stopped going to school at the age of twelve, because her family didn't have money for studies. In her free time she played with paper dolls.



My mom's name is Rosário. She was born on 10th March 1962 in Rebelva.

She had one sister. Her name is Julia.

She went to Sto. António in Parede. My mother doesn't remember the primary school, so I'm talking about the secundary. She said "The school was good". My mother had five teachers and thirty colleagues. She learned to write with pencil and studied Portuguese, Maths, History and Science.

She went to school on foot. My mother took 10 minutes to get to school. She never had to work and study at the same time.

Unfortunately she stopped study at 17. After that her life was normal.



My grandmother was born in 1938 in Angola. She lived in Kibala and had 3 brothers and 1 sister. She went to school for six year. The school was old and small. The teacher taught to read and write.

She loved History and Natural Science, Maths, Geography and Physics.

She went to school on foot. It took forty minutes. When she came from school, she did the homework and helped her parents.

My grandmother stopped studying at 12 because she had to leave her parents.

Life was dificult.




Updated on 26Jun03

Created on 10 June 2003

Teresa Almeida d'Eça