Sunday, March 21, 2010

Yorktown - Where America Won THE Victory.

Yorktown, for those who are as unaware of these things as I am, was the site of the last major battle of the Revolutionary War.  It is where Cornwallis surrendered to Washington.  Why it took another year or two before the Treaty of Paris was signed, officially ending the war, I am still not sure.

Our day at Yorktown was a battle against natures elements.  It was the coldest day of the week - it even snowed the night before causing the schools in the area to be cancelled.  We New Yorkers thought that was pretty funny, though we certainly were not laughing at the wind and the cold! 

The Yorktown Visitor's Center offered us a tour of the recreated farm and soldier's encampment as well as an indoor tour of the museum.  I wish we could have taken pictures inside as one of the original copies of the Declaration of Independence was located in there.  When the Declaration was signed, 13 copies were made to be viewed by the colonies.  So neat to see that so closely!

The children each took 2-hour classes focusing on different aspects of that time.  My 1st and 2nd graders had a class on colonial life.  My 5th and 6th graders enjoyed handling and discussing artifacts from the Revolutionary Period, and my 7th grader had a good time in his class about the life of a Revolutionary War Private.

When asked what there favorite part of Yorktown was, each of them said it was learning about medical practices during that time.  I am sad we did not get any pictures of the actual tools used in order to treat the soldiers.  The utensil used to pull out a sore tooth and the sharp object used to dig out any remaining roots was of particular interest.  Not to mention the drill they would use to make a hole in a soldier's head to relieve swelling from a concussion.  Don't forget, the only anesthesia they had was whiskey.  Funny how we have such romantic notions of the far ago past - the dresses, balls, fun.  Just taking a brief look into the medical and hygiene habits of the time will quickly snap you back into reality.  We are blessed!!

A soldier's tent.  Actually, a tent like this would have been "home" to
six full-grown men - healthy or ill.

Barely big enough for four young people!

An officer would have had much nicer accomodations -though he
would have paid for them himself.  He even had a chamber pot & a
servant to empty it for him.  No walking out of camp for him.

Revolutionary period "mess hall".  There are "ovens" built into the dirt.
Each tent had their own "oven", etc., and the men would cook their
Musket & artillery demonstrations were always a hit.

My little Private disguising herself so she can fight for the cause!

I was so glad to be able to learn so much more about the War and how it ended.  It's fun to be the teacher and learn things right along side my children.  It was a cold day - but it was a fun & worthwhile day!

Next time - Williamsburg!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Jamestown Settlement

What a wonderful week we had last week!!  We covered 255 years of history in 5 fun days.  The kids actually loved the road trip down to VA.  We stayed at my sweet "sister's" house.  The kids loved their dogs and I loved seeing my little sis' baby belly!!!

We drove on Monday morning for 2 more hours and officially began our tour at the Jamestown Settlement.  Appropriate, as that is obviously where this great country began. (I must interject that I am well aware that there was a previous English colony in Roanoke, but this was obviously the first surviving colony).

Most everyone we met on this trip who worked at the various places were wonderful.  They talked to the kids, answered their questions, and let them handle so many of the items on display!  They truly were there to help our kids learn as much as possible.
My kids are fascinated with dead animals and their remains.

We took a fantastic tour with an equally fantastic tour guide.  Honestly, if you have a dud for a guide, your tour will be a dud, as well.  This guy LOVED history and made things really come alive!

We were able to board the replica of the Discovery - one of the three ships that brought the first English colonists to America.  

My sailors

Walking around inside the replica of the Jamestown fort really brought home to us what life was like for these men.  Why the high walls?  Not because of the Indians - but to protect them from the Spanish.  If you remember, Spain already had colonies further south.  The English were concerned the Spanish would attack and try to take over the colony.  However, the Spanish did come up, spied a little, then went back down to Florida stating that the poor English chaps would never survive!

Grizzly Adams was kind enough to give us a musket demonstration.  This guy is the reason there were no women in VA for some time.  Seriously, would you really find him a catch?!

Visiting the Powatan village, getting inside of their homes, and helping dig out a canoe was definitely a hightlight!

The kids also tried their hand at rope-making.  This was a skill that Powatan children learned to do at 2 years of age!!!!  

We arrived at the Settlement around 11:00.  We spent a full six hours sucking up every aspect of the place.  Unfortunately, we were never able to make it to the actual Jamestown site (about a mile away) to see the archeological dig and the statue of John Smith.  But, while on the pier, our guide told us that the site was just beyond those trees.  So - here you are - the official site of the beginning of America (from a distance):

Ha!! Sorry about that.  Truly we crammed so much into 5 days, something had to be left out!!!

I will post pictures of Yorktown & Williamsburg in the next couple of days.  I highly recommend taking your family to these places.  If you homeschool, you must look into their special homeschool weeks - one in September and one in March.  If you go to Teaching Mommy, I'll leave you the link and give you some more information on these amazing deals!!