Heritage Village Field Trip
This past Monday, we went on a field trip with our homeschool group to Heritage Village in Woodville, TX. There were 4 moms and 9 children (7 school-age kids, 1 preschooler and 1 babe-in-arms). We called ahead and found out that if we went on the same day that a small school went, then we could benefit from the craftsmen and women that would be there for the group’s demonstrations. We didn’t have to schedule a separate trip; we could just come out when they did and slip into and in-between their groups. That worked out well – there were several craft demos that we got to see, starting with the spinning demonstration. She showed us how the wool looks before, and told us how it is washed and dyed and then showed us how it is carded, and finally how one can use a drop spindle or a spinning wheel to pull and twist the fibers together to strengthen them and make yarn. I’ve been interested in spinning for a while, but this was the first opportunity to see it done. I’d love to try it sometime.
We went to the village Pawn Shop after that, and then through to the Dentist’s Office, Saloon, Inn, Doctor’s Office/Apothecary and Ladies Sewing Shop. Then we went into the Justice of the Peace’s/Courthouse and learned all about Bonnie and Clyde while we were waiting to see the candlemaking demo. It was taking longer than we expected, and one of the guides came out and showed us how roofing shingles were made from cedar planks. Then he walked us through the machine shops and the potting shed, complete with the ‘old school’ kick-wheel and several samples of pottery made on a kick-wheel.
After that, we trouped on over to the school house and all our kiddos got a kick out of the one-room school, with it’s tiny desks and slates instead of paper and pencils. Everyone wanted to try on the dunce cap!
After some goofing off and role-playing in the classroom, we went on up to the carriage house for a quilting demonstration and then to the candlemaking shop, where one of our kiddos got to dip a candle. Then we went out to the newspaper office, Town Jail, the barber shoppe and stable, complete with blacksmith. We missed out on the blacksmith demo – I was kinda bummed about that, but I’ll live.
One of the nifty things about this trip is that my Grandmother’s Grandmother’s kitchen is in this museum. Every time we pass this way, she tells me how she used to play in this kitchen. It’s really neat to see a piece of my family’s history preserved this way. I used to be really into genealogy and tracing our family’s history. I got quite far back in some sections of my family – back to the 1600’s in Denmark with my grandmother’s people (the same one who grew up in this kitchen). Other sections go back to Ireland, England and France, and still others follow a Native American thread. I find the whole process fascinating. I have “My Family Tree” books (that I need to add a bunch of marriages and new babies to!) that I want to work on with my boys so they’ll have a record. They may not be terribly interested in their history, but one of their descendants may be one day. In any case, I’ll print these pictures and get my grandmother to tell me her stories while I tape and transcript them for inclusion in the books.
We wrapped up with the Tolar Kitchen, the Church and Western Union office, the General Store and the Confederate Camp. Something else I thought was neat is that they do Civil War reenactments at HV, so we may try to catch one soon – when we’re studying the Civil War, we’ll definitely have to check it out. PeaGreen and I walked up the (HUGE and STEEP) hill to see the field that they do them in. I’m excited about the prospect of seeing a reenactment.
After a potty-break (and a chance to splash some blessedly cold water over our faces and necks), we grabbed a guide and asked her to take a group picture. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.
After the tour was over, we loaded up (after a quick stop at the gift shop for some old time-y candy) and headed to a nearby park to have lunch. The kids got to run around and get some energy out – though they were by no means expected to fold their hands and be still the whole time we were at the village museum, there were still enough reminder to ‘stop running, stop fidgeting and pay attention’ that I’m sure it was a welcome respite to be able to run wild for a bit before the long car ride back home.
On the way home, we stopped in the Big Thicket National Preserve Visitor’s Center. They have several trails and free educational tour/programs that we’re going to take advantage of in the next few weeks and months. They also had several cool things to check out inside the visitor’s center, including an oversized model with cross-section cut out of a pitcher plant that shows how it gets food (bugs and even some small birds in the bigger specimens). The kids also listened to and watched a presentation on “Nature’s Nighttime Symphony” which featured some interesting facts about insects and nocturnal animals.
Overall, the kids had a great time, and I think the moms did, too. One of the recurring themes in conversation was that stuff like “this” was why we pulled our kids out of school to begin with. Even though we didn’t test them, they were obviously learning – time wise, I’d say they probably spent more time “learning” in the 3 hours we were there than they did in a typical classroom day at school. No amount of telling is worth the doing – and in that vein, our kids “did” everything that could be experienced there. Although not a true representation of life in that time period, it was a good place to get a relatively accurate vibe, and I think that anything hands-on is going to leave a more lasting impression. So even though we didn’t pour over the details, it definitely resonated with previous lesson plans (we talked about specialization in previous history classes, so this meshed right into that).
Next up is a craft/art lesson tomorrow. Playgroup is at Chuck E. Cheese’s, and that’s not in our budget this week (nor does that sound like fun to me this week, lol) so some of our homeschooling friends are coming over and we’re going to work on letterboxing. We’re going to be carving our own personal stamps and decorating our notebooks – and maybe making a few boxes to hide. That’s a project we’ve been interested in for a while, so I’m excited to get started on it finally!