Friday, May 15, 2015

Field Trip Friday: Holton

  I wanted to sparkle today.  One of my Grandma Mauzey's cousins passed away this week and today was the funeral, which decided the location of our field trip Friday.  The ladies on that side of the family came from very modest backgrounds but always dressed with a sparkle and a flamboyant air.  When I came upon these slippers years ago, I picked them because they are EXACTLY like what my grandma or her sisters or cousins would wear.  So they carried me up North today to Holton to say goodbye.
  Grandma was meeting us at the funeral.  We got there a tad bit early so we decided to wander a bit rather than sitting in the car.  So where does a genealogist/historian take the kids to kill time???  Well, the cemetery of course!  We have all decided we need to go back when it is not quite so soggy and we have more time.  We saw burials as early as 1860, tons of Civil War veterans, and a mausoleum that was HUGE, as well as some awesome stump stones...
  The funeral was bittersweet, aren't they all?  So good to see relatives you haven't seen in ages, but so very sad.  I'm finding that with each family one that we attend these days it reminds me of how much I miss my grandparents and that makes it all the more hard.  One awesome thing was that we had a Patriot Guard leading the procession.  My cousin had seen it and wanted it for her funeral and since one of her nephews was a Patriot Guard he and his wife performed the ceremony for the graveside service.  There was a certain way they handled the flag differently than a veteran funeral. It was so cool!
  Our next stop was the Jackson County Historical Society.  It turned out to be smaller than what I was expecting, but the kids had fun and that's what mattered!
  Just to show you that the kids aren't always poseable...
  Yep, just about sums it up too... a goofy one, one we have to keep from running away and the other that is too busy pointing out the fossils in the rock...
  Back to my story...
Mookie's favorite display was the WPA  dolls, which gave me an intro to WPA, the kids know all about the CCC because it is one of Hubby's hobbies.
Bubby found an interesting display on the old wolf hunts...
I was super excited about the Civil War exhibits and Shorty liked the train (of course), but well, he didn't stand still long enough at anything to get a picture.  He really, really, really, really wanted to go to the playground we'd seen on the way to the museum.
Can you blame him?  Look at that thing!  We played and played until the kids were red faced and sweaty.
the Burger King crown fit in perfectly

When we wore them out, we dropped Grandma off and went home via the Lane Freedom Trail (Hwy 75). 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Why you should use Genealogy in your Homeschooling

  When normal life doesn't get in the way, I am a rabid genealogist.  In fact, I saw this meme this week on Facebook and couldn't agree more...
  Because of my love for all things family history, I look for a way to also get the kids excited at any chance I get.  I have found it extremely valuable in our schooling too!  So, why should you do it?

1)  You make history come alive!  A few years ago we started using Beautiful Feet for our history studies.  One of the books was the Matchlock Gun by Walter Edmonds.
Have you read it?  Oh my goodness, it is one of my most favorite suspense building read-alouds ever!  It is based on a Van Alstyne family in New York (although it is not clear if it was based on a real story or an embellished one).  Nonetheless, Hubby's ancestors were Van Alstynes from the same part of New York, and had a similar situation with a great grandma who had to hide with the baby in an old log while the Indians walked all around.  Talk about an opportunity to get the kiddos interested!  The kiddos sat with rapt attention when I read that book! 

2) You create a personal connection to historical events.  Valley Forge is just where George Washington had a hard winter vs. your ggggg-grandpa Elwell spent the winter in George Washington's army at Valley Forge.  Its an attention grabber. Throw in some wonderful hands on things, and history is not boring!

3) Its a great lead in for teaching the hard issues.
I was working on some research today and Bubby came and looked over my shoulder and saw this picture.  He said, "who is that?".  I said, "he was a slave who married a slave that our family had owned.  What can you tell me about him from his appearance?".  Bubby replied, "well, he has white features".  I said, "yes, his father was most likely his owner".  Mind blown.  We got into this great discussion on how I came to that conclusion, why people would own others, etc... Using family history as a lead in takes some of the edge off of the hard discussions.  Now there's still that reconciliation of why did my family do this to others, but you can take that and turn it into a morality lesson too and explain why they were not following the Christian values that they may have claimed. 

4) You can make history hands on.  Get out grandpa's old World War II uniform, the autograph album that has Civil War soldiers names in it, the crazy quilt piece that is 100+ years old.  To see and touch these things of those that went before us and where it fit in history is so important!

5) It creates a sense of belonging.  Visit the old homeplace, walk a cemetery where ancestors are buried.  When you can see your connection to history through these old places your family walked, you care more about it, you care about what it has been and its future preservation. 

The more connections to history you create, the more your kiddos will seek out history anywhere!

Field Trip Friday: Trailside Center

  A couple of weeks ago when we went to Mahaffie Farm, we picked up a little passport of places to visit in the Kansas City area.  At each place you need to answer a question for your booklet and you get a stamp for your passport.  This Friday we were in Kansas City to pick up Hubby from a long trip, so we grabbed the closest one to where we were going to be - the Trailside Center.  We were all a little edgy from Hubby being gone, so I am glad it wasn't much, but it thrilled the kids to no end to snag one of their passport stamps!
  We got to the Trailside Center in the early afternoon and we were the first "customers" of the day (they'd been open since about 10am) and the volunteer gals were thrilled we were there.  Our question for the passport was "why is the pioneer woman carrying flowers" and the gal gave an explanation of pioneer life and showed the kids some of the artifacts they had on display.
  Shorty was not interested, so he told me all about this map and drew a route for us to take.
The Trailside Center is at the confluence of the California, Oregon and Santa Fe Trails.  It is essentially a tourism center for that area.  They have some interesting local maps, and a small amount of pioneer artifacts, and an interesting Civil War display with re-enactment uniforms and equipment.
  The map that caught my eye was the one for the Battle of Westport.  I've been wanting to get to that one for a while - its free and would fit right in to what we had been learning.  The problem being - its right next to the Kansas City Zoo which is a day trip for us in itself.  I've been considering blindfolding the kids for the Battle of Westport trip...
   The older kiddos had a good time with the historical nature of this stop.  What thrilled them though was since it was a tourism center, was to pick out brochures and dream about future field trips!  That was worth the stop in itself :) 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Emergency Showcase

  We didn't have anything to do today, but I really wanted to go somewhere.  Well, one of the perks of living in town is that if you look around, there's always a possibility - today it was a little bigger than usual.  Overbrook was holding an emergency showcase - highlighting all the local emergency services.  We left on our walk, to the lake where it was being held, just in time to see LifeStar flying in - which got Shorty all excited!
  The best hands on activity was where you got to put out fires like a firefighter!
The flames were on hinges and would bend when the water hit them. 

 There was a menagerie of emergency vehicles you could peek in:
A Jaws of Life demonstration:
A chance to get fingerprinted.  Excellent for Bubby, my spy wanna-be:

And then LifeStart took off!
It was thrilling to get to peek in the Highway Patrol helicopter...
Hooray for awesome (and free) activities in your own backyard!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Field Trip: Topeka Symphony

Getting ready!

  We had another Thursday field trip this week.  The annual Topeka Symphony free school day concert!  We've been at least a couple other times and its been a treat each time!  Today they did "Pictures at an Exhibition" by Modest Mussorgsky. 
The conductor did an awesome job of incorporating Viktor Hartmann's pictures that the piece of music was based on in a Power Point presentation. He also gave a brief synopsis of each picture.  The music was so good that Shorty sat still for quite a bit longer than I was expecting. :)
  The neatest part was the performance of Aaron Copeland's Our Town with a Power Point of pictures and video taken by local school children.
After a birthday celebration lunch with Ducky and Grandma, we took off for the Kansas Historical Society.  I had an obituary to look for for work and I bribed the kids with playtime if they were quiet, which worked except for hilarious giggles coming out of the back corner of the microfilm room.  One patron assured me that it didn't bother her :)  Then we were off to play! 
KSHS play area!
  I had to make a promise to go back soon and walk the trails!

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.  Bubby 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. :)