Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wagon Trails....Or "How to Make History Real for Your Children"

When I was in high school, my parents took us on a trip out west. My mother, the schoolteacher (also just a generally interested-in-history-person), kept throwing in "extras" along the way. Like, museums. One late afternoon, on which I remember being particularly anxious to move along and get to the hotel (pool), we made a "detour" and drove to the site marking the start (portion?) of a famous wagon trail, where many pioneer families made the journey west. Quite literally, there was a small area in which to park, and then you got out and looked at a large grassy plain, and then you walked to the spot where you could see some ruts in the ground, and a sign. Now, my mother will stop the story at the point and tell you that - ahem - it is worth noting that I remember the wagon trail. This is true. It is also true that experiences such as those has made me somewhat conscientious of how we present "history" to our children, and made it very interesting to see how they did on what was really our first history-type trip. On Tuesday of the trip we went with some others from the MOMYS group and got a tour of the Jamestown Settlement - the reenacted Jamestown site that is more kid-friendly than the actual historical Jamestowne. Levi hung in and seemed to retain quite a bit from our private tour guide, but the others faded quickly as it involved standing for long periods in the wind, just listening. They were also distracted a bit because they could see the Indian homes and the large ships and the fort, but we weren't going in them yet! They did really enjoy it all once we started exploring and it was great to see them connect what they were seeing to some of the things we had learned.

Jesse, grinding corn the old way.
One of the replica ships - the Susan Constant (note: random girl walked into picture beside Eric at the last second!)

Tuesday's hands-on history wasn't done, however, as the retreat organizers had planned a girls/mothers tea and a militia drill for the boys/dads in the afternoon back at the resort. Our outside picnic/tea was cold but absolutely beautiful in its set-up and planning. Each lady got a custom-made mug with raspberry lemonade plus wonderful "crumpets" in a basket.

The boys had their replica muskets and LOVED the drill instruction time. We had quite the time the rest of the trip getting them to stop "drilling" and remember that the dear people of Virginia Beach/Norfolk/West Virginia/Ohio did not know they were pretending to be minutemen.

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