Friday, April 24, 2015

Field Trip: Mahaffie Farm

  We were going to make it to Mahaffie Stage Coach Stop and Farm this spring, that's all there was to it.  I'd passed it too many times on the way to other places, my sweet cousin sent me a note highly recommending it, and then came the announcement about "homeschool days" and that settled it!  We registered and were ready to go!
  Mookie was rather blasé about the whole thing.  In fact, she's been in a little bit of a funk lately.  This was just the thing to get her out of it. Really, the whole family needed it.  It had been a crazy and stressful week and we needed a treat!  We grabbed Ducky and Grandma and headed out!
  When we arrived, we didn't stop in the little interpretive center at the main building.  Shorty was dying to "play!" so we were on the move.  The first thing we saw was an opportunity to plant corn - there were plenty of hands on activities for the kids.

  There was even a wheat planting demonstration with a horse drawn planter going on.  The big draw was the animals - baby pigs, sheep, goats.  My little farmer wanna be's were in heaven :)
  The next stop was the stage coach.  The kids' rides were free, but the adults had to buy tokens. We had debated on whether or not we should all ride, but I am sure glad we did!
The ride lasted over 5 minutes and thrilled young and old tremendously!
  The house that the Mahaffies had owned as a stage station was open.  In the basement they had cooking demonstrations going on.  The gals were cooking corn cakes on the wood stove and churning butter, both activities were ones that the kids could help with - and mine didn't have to be asked twice ;)
  The part they had the most fun with though were the old time outdoor games like Game of Graces and hitting the hoop.  Mookie excelled at the Game of Graces and was a pro.  What can I say, I think the kid was born 150 years too late.  In fact, she had so much fun, she smiled like she hasn't smiled in quite a while.
While the big kids played games, Shorty just wanted to run up the big hill...
King of the hill!!!
Of course, there were other things like grinding corn for chicken feed and then actually feeding the chickens!
Then we were tiredly and happily making our way out the door.  Posing with the Olathe boot, waving, "thanks for coming" (yep, that was Shorty).
Can you tell who I spent most of my time with?  Yep, the little guy.  Our unspoken deal is I will chase him and the older kids get to spend time at the things they want to.  Bobby is so meticulous, wanting to make sure he gets to see every. little. thing. on. the. map. and Mookie just wants to take her time at the hands on stuff.  When we get to take Ducky and Grandma along it makes it even more special because the older ones get to hang out with them for more one on one time while I ride herd on the little guy.
  We are definitely going back to Mahaffie someday.  While we were at Mahaffie we picked up this most awesome kids' passport (free) with places in the surrounding areas that you could gather stamps from.  Some of the places were ones we'd been to like Missouri Town and the Ernie Miller Nature center, but there were also so many more that now we need to go to!  Yay!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The One O'Clock Miracle (a review)

   I LOVE a good read-aloud picture book.  My favorites are Dr. Seuss’ What Was I Scared Of? and Llama Llama Red Pajama, things you can really get into. Those books were what The One O’Clock Miracle by Alison Mitchell reminded me of.  The book is highly visual, and not just with the pictures, but with the strong descriptive words that are highlighted at times…
With a pre-reader in my house who is very interested in words and what they say, this is a great way to draw attention to individual words.
Of course, the most important thing about this book is its message.  The subtitle is “Trusting the Words of Jesus”.  How appropriate, that’s all we can do today, and it is such an important lesson to pass along to our kiddos.  We can’t see Jesus in the flesh, but we can see all of his promises in action!

At the end of the book are Scripture references where you can find the original story of the One O’clock Miracle in the Bible, as well as the chapter and verse where the Bible tells us that we can believe in Him because of what we have heard.

  This is definitely a "keeper" of a book.  Thanks to Cross Focused Reviews for giving me a chance to review it.  The opinions in this blog are my own. :)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Field Trip Friday: Emporia

   I've been wanting to try the Emporia theme for a while.  Its about an hour down the road from us and just full of wonderful Kansas history!  Not to mention tons of free things to do.  Our first stop on this cool and breezy day was the Geology and Natural History museums on the lower level of Breunkelman Hall on the Emporia State campus.  Both are about the size of a large classroom, but would be great for enhancing a science lesson.  There are hundreds of species of animals in the natural history museum.  Not just adult specimens either, some have eggs, juvenile and adults represented.  Mookie's favorites were the little guys. 
Not quite the dioramas of the KU Natural history museum, but definitely worth a look.
I loved the geology museum!  Excellent fossils, florescing rocks, Native American artifacts, an exhibit on the zinc mines of SE Kansas, but it had one problem.  It was steaming hot!  It drove Mookie and Shorty out after only a short time.  I sure would like to go back and take more time in there.  Luckily Bubby got quality time in there, most of my time at these museums is riding herd on those not so interested.  Someday that will change, so I just have fun in the running around in the meantime. :)
  Our next stop was the David Traylor zoo.  It had a bunch of native species as well a few others. 
This zoo was not fantastic because of its selection of animals, but because it was absolutely beautifully landscaped and so cozy and up close with the animals it did have.  They even have a portion that is open at times for a drive though.  The kids are ready to go back again!
  Right across the road from the zoo is the Veterans' Day memorial. Did you know that Emporia was essentially the birthplace of Veterans' Day?  They had the traditional tank and helicopter to view....
with some excellent extras...
A Braille Pledge of Allegiance
And a Rainbow footbridge over the Cottonwood River
It was a great place to get out and stretch our legs a little more!
  We also went and tracked down some statues of famous Emporia personalities.  It is located right on the corner of the Lyon County fairgrounds, so we felt a little conspicuous taking pictures by all the traffic, but not too much ;)
The people represented were William Allen White, Preston Plumb (one of the founders of Emporia), a Native American chief, and Nathaniel Lyon (Lyon county is named for him and Emporia is the county seat).
  We took our packed lunch and sat by the train tracks to watch passing trains, to Shorty's delight.
  Our last stop was the Lyon County Historical Museum.  I had been dying to see its Civil War exhibit.  We walked in and Shorty started telling the staff about the trains he saw, to which the reply was "oh, you want to see the train?", and she led us to the train room.  And not just any train room, but one with a camera on the front with a screen on the wall so you could watch as the train followed the track, went through tunnels and you could even catch a glimpse of yourself on the big screen! Um, yeah, awesome!

To heck with mommy wanting to see the GAR button of Preston Plumb's in the Civil War room and read all the interesting placards.  Luckily I could see him in the train room playing at the Thomas the Tank Engine table from the Civil War room and bought my self some time.  Preston Plumb led the 11th Kansas (of which Burlingame's Company I was a part of) and I was so excited! The Civil War exhibit was also interactive and had a basket where you could chose a real soldier's name and find an artifact or mention of him in the room and then look up his name in a book.  The two older ones loved this.  Laura was excited because she got Plumb's name - we accused her of cheating ;)
Bubby looking for his soldier
The museum right now is really small, just one other room beside the train and Civil War exhibit rooms, but that will change after the first of the year.  They are moving to a building with 40,000 sq. ft. (where they have 4,000 sq. ft. now) and they are merging the research library with them too.  They are very excited about getting more of their fun stuff out, and I am too!  I'll make a trip back down for sure, the Gazette has some of neat sounding newspaper artifacts we want to check out too, as well as possibly his house - Red Rocks.
  The only thing we paid for today was the gas to get there and happy hour drinks at Sonic.  Not a bad deal at all :)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Field Trip Friday: A Little Less Ordinary

  We didn't take a field trip today, per se.  We traveled and we didn't "do school" but it didn't involve a museum.  Today we went to Ducky and Gigi's to burn the pasture.  Something we like to do as a family every year to take out the dead and make way for the new.  So we'll just say we reviewed fire safety for that portion of the day...
The kids don't do the burning, just Daddy and Ducky, but they enjoy watching.
  Our trip part of the day took us in to my hometown of Oskaloosa to the cemetery.  We were seeking out photo requests for the Find A Grave website.  While we didn't have much luck with that, we found some awesome Civil War veteran stones...

The top pic is the coolest Civil War veteran stone I've ever seen.  The bottom one is a man who served as a Corporal in the 1st Kansas Colored (aka 79th USCT).  Oskaloosa was a free-state town and I was hoping to find some of the USCT there and was thrilled to find two 1st KS Co. among them!  By the end of our time at the cemetery I was having to pull Bubby away (the other two had given up on us long before) and tell him we had to stop taking pictures of veterans' stones.  History class for the day!
  Our last stop was to the County Seat Variety for some ice cream from their soda fountain.  My mom used to work at the library up the street when I was a kid and every once in a while we would stop in for ice cream.  It was so wonderful to be able to share that with my kiddos.
  While we didn't get to our "ordinary" trip, fun was had by all :)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Field Trip Friday - Ft. Leavenworth

  Oh, the irony!  Ever since we started our learning of Civil War veterans a few summers ago, I've been dying to go to the museum at Ft. Leavenworth.  The thing that has held us back was getting access to the fort.  I didn't want to have to go thru all the possible security.  We finally broke down, picked up Gigi, and made our trip.  It turns out that just a couple of weeks prior, the fort had changed their admittance from just showing drivers license, registration, and insurance to stopping at a visitor's center and submitting those documents as well as undergoing a background check.  It was not a big deal even with that (took less than 10 minutes), but to think that it would have been easier and I put it off - *sigh*. 
  The Frontier Army museum was right on the edge of the historic fort area (we did take advantage of our fort pass and went further into the historic part - cool!  Mookie loved looking at the old buildings).  The museum is free and well worth the trip.  They start you out with Lewis and Clark who explored the area and Fort Cavagnal which was an early French fort in the area, as well as some really cool early Ft. Leavenworth artifacts. 
Shorty with Lewis & Clark
  The main exhibit area was made up of examples of firearms, military equipment, and vehicles used during different periods.  It really reminded me of the Kansas National Guard museum in Topeka except with more finesse and just key artifacts.  The interpretation guides for these were exceptional.
  Mookie surprised me a bit with what she enjoyed.  She took a big interest in some cannons and what was inscribed on them.
  Shorty was intrigued by the large stage coach.  He kept saying that the guy inside was moving.  After a few laps and hearing that, I could almost see him move myself...
  Bubby was thrilled to see a bust of one his favorite historical characters - Frederick Funston. He portrayed Funston in a Kansas characters show and tell a few years back at our homeschool coop :)

  My biggest disappointment was not seeing anything meaty on the U.S. Colored Troops.  I had assumed that since William Matthews, of the 1st Kansas Colored, was from Leavenworth prior to the war that there would be some emphasis on them.  They did have items about the Buffalo Soldiers and we made sure to pay a visit to the Buffalo Soldier's monument while we were there.
  The kids were very intrigued with Fort life and how self contained it was.  It would be fun to go back when it wasn't so very cold outside.  I think a trip to Ft. Riley is in our near future as well!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Field Trip - Art Lab

Guest blog by Bubby (age 11)

  The other day, we went to Mulvane art museum’s art lab at Washburn University 
in Topeka. It is in the Basement there. There are legos, archaeology, painting, rock 
    art, scavenger hunts, and puppets.  I like the legos because you can make anything you 
    want. Laura made a huge tower. I also liked archaeology because of the quiz you can 
    take. My sister’s favorite part was the Legos.  It was educational. I can’t wait for next week!

Like Shorty like Ducky...

Mookie's tower

Friday, January 23, 2015

Fort Titus

 We went to Fort Titus yesterday with my Grandparents. On August 16, 1856, some fifty free state men under Captain Samuel Walker attacked Fort Titus. After a brief battle, Colonel Henry Titus, Fort Titus’ 34 defenders, and 400 muskets surrendered. Servants and slaves owned by Titus were set free and instructed to go to Topeka. Eight free state men were wounded; the fort was burned to the ground. It was great because that is what we’re learning about in school. (guest blog by Mookie - age 10).
Fort Titus