Florence Nightingale {1850-1860}

Florence Nightingale

The 1850s were an interesting time with, firstly, the start of both the Crimean war between Russia and her ally Turkey and allies Britain and France and the second Opium war (between Britain and China).  Secondly, there was the publication of well known novels such as Moby Dick and Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Thirdly, the Great Exhibition, an enormous exhibition of technology, opened in London.  And finally, Florence Nightingale, the lady of the lamp.  She is well known for beginning reforms to sanitation practices first whilst serving in Crimea and then back in the London hospitals.

So much to choose from!  But as a former nurse it was an easy choice for me.  I had always wanted to learn a bit more about Florence Nightingale.  Also, as we had never covered Russia before in our home school, I thought it would be interesting to take a quick look.

The Little ones would be joining in, although they would be focusing on The Dancing Bear, a title from the FIAR curriculum based in Russia.  I purposefully did not buy in a huge number of resources for this week and tried to use what we had around the house.


These were the primary non fiction books we used about Florence Nightingale:

Florence NightingaleFlorence Nightingale Florence Nightingale Florence Nightingale

Alongside these we read the following books on the Crimea War:

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and the following book about Russia:


We would be looking into Russia in a bit more depth next term when we cover the twentieth century in more depth.  But for now the above book gave a very simplistic overview of Russia’s complicated history.

Florence Nightingale and the Crimean War

We watched the following video over a couple of days:

Florence Nightingale

This is SUCH a good video, clearly showing just how much Florence Nightingale felt called by God to do everything she did:

God spoke to me and called me to His Service. What form this service was to take the voice did not say.

She chose this calling over and above any personal gain such as marriage, comfort and even good health.  Through it all she remained humble and unaware of just how huge what she had achieved actually was.

If I could give you information of my life, it would be to show how a woman of very ordinary ability has been led by God in strange and unaccustomed paths to do In His service what He has done in her. And if I could tell you all, you would see how God has done all, and I nothing.

I was in tears a few times as I realised how incredible it was that she managed to achieve what she did in the very male-led Victorian society in which she lived (even more so at Scutari).

Florence Nightingale set the scene for women to be professional nurses

With her work ethic and obedience, finding work which she would be allowed to do.  For example, she and her nurses were not allowed to even enter the hospital in Scutari, much less nurse the men there.  Yet, she doggedly continued to work at what she was allowed to do – in this case sew blankets – until she was finally allowed to clean the floor of the hospitals.

Florence Nightingale improved conditions so much that she was then allowed to care for the men.  This was something which a few short months before had been so untenable to the soldier doctors in charge.

I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results.

She was a force to be reckoned with, not just because she was so strong in and of herself, but because she followed God’s will for her life.  With each hurdle she was faced with, she simply did what she could and trusted God for the rest.  This was a moving and inspiring look at a woman who achieved far more than even she dreamed was possible.


This week I had the older ones choose an area they would like to learn more about, research it, create a presentation board and give a presentation.   Thomas chose the Crimean War; Lillie chose Florence Nightingale and Charlotte chose to critically analyse Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade poem….oh and she slipped in a biography of the poet and a precis of the actual battle.

We had hoped to have it done in time for Grandad and Granny from Northern Ireland to watch.  Unfortunately the presentation boards didn’t get done until they had left.  No matter , they gave it to both Gary and I and their younger sisters.

Creating The Display Boards

I had to laugh as I watched them create their sheet of board for their presentation:

Florence Nightingale

Thomas chose just pictures – if there is any conceivable way for him to reduce any writing, he will opt in automatically!  Lillie’s was the most artistic.  And my word loving youngest twin created a board full of writing, colour coded at that 🙂  And she was there much longer than everyone else:

I had to get a photo with them standing by their own particular sheet.  They are all so different and individual.  I love it!

Florence Nightingale

Thomas is beginning to get a bit worried about the sheer enthusiasm his sisters display for their school work.  Charlotte looks positively insane!

Florence Nightingale

Love my guys so much <3

Presenting Their Research

Anyway, Thomas ‘wrote’ his presentation on his phone:

Lillie on scraps of paper:

And Charlotte on neatly, colour coded smart paper; ‘Only 7 pages long‘……:

They all did a brilliant job and I was very pleased 🙂

Next week we are looking into Charles Darwin and his Origin of Species theory.

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