Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Living history

          Old Sturbridge Village was having a homeschooling day today so we headed there to check it out.  They hold these events a few times through the school year and offer special programs and discounted rates for families.  Evan woke up cranky because he doesn't like the village and was determined to have a bad day.  This made me worried for the kind of day the rest of us would have.   Ian and Alec did some math before we left and as Ian was doing the oral part of his assignment Alec was answering the questions.   Ian wasn't upset because he thought it was "easy" but I was impressed that Alec could add large numbers like 500 + 400 in his head.  When I commented on it he told me that it was just like adding 5 + 4 and adding the hundred to the back since they're zeros.  He's right, of course, but I explained that that was the whole point of lesson Ian was doing and that some kids don't see those connections in math.  So he was pretty proud of himself.  Then Ian starts answering the rest of the written work and when he got to 90 + 90 he looked at me and said "so I can say 90x2 is 180 then also."  I told him I was very impressed and he was beaming!  I love lessons like these. 
            Evan wanted to do his dot - to -dot papers in the car ride once again today.  I'm running out of them and will have to start looking around on- line to find some more.  But for today all of his were with numbers 1- 20.  I was feeling kind of disappointed that this is the only "school work" he does all day but then I remembered Alec's obsession with dot- to- dots at the same age and figured it certainly worked wonders for him.  Besides, if he enjoys it that is really all that matters.  I also brought our new book Dragon in the Sock Drawer with us and asked the two older boys to just read aloud a page or two each so we could complete our chapter for today as well as having them get some reading practice in before we finished our school "work" for the day. 
      We arrived at Old Sturbridge Village and stayed for 7 hours!  Evan was wonderful and hardly complained at all!  We had a great time.  The whole day was centered around the war of 1812 so we got to go on a scavenger hunt to put together a soldier's pack.  We saw musket and target shooting practices.  We watched the blacksmith forge a boarding axe and the saw mill in action cutting boards.   This was such a huge hit with the boys that we went back to visit the blacksmith shop three times and the saw mill twice.  We stayed for a good length of time each time and they learned a lot.  The only things they talked about on the way home today was the heat temperatures of the fire, the colors heated metal will turn to and what they mean and all sorts of blacksmith trivia bits.  At one point during the day Alec an Ian made paper Shako hats that some of the soldiers wore.  I was also able to show the boys the room where their grandparents got married and had their wedding reception 20+ years ago. 

      I had signed the two younger boys up for an optional art/ craft project at the end of the day.  They painted a picture of the white house and since hardly anyone showed up for the last class the teacher offered to let Ian participate too.  They learned a reverse painting technique and chose to paint their houses... well... not white-- Alec's was a rainbow, Ian's was read and green and Evan's was yellow with white windows and a bit of green moss growing on the side.  Next time I think we'll sign up for an early morning class and then we won't have to stay all day.

    Amazingly enough tough, even with having been there all day there were still a few building we didn't get to see and many demonstrations we skipped.   We went to turn in our scavenger hunt findings and discovered our free gift was a postcard.  I was so excited because I was going to buy some earlier in the day and have the kids fill them out for a writing assignment tomorrow but the gift made Evan cry and tantrum the whole way to the car.  We then had a lengthy discussion about "free" gifts and being grateful, thankful, and declining respectfully.  Three minutes down the road he declared he was happy that he was able to keep the scavenger hunt pictures and that was a good enough gift for him.  I think it was mostly exhaustion but was glad we had the chance to talk about accepting gifts gracefully.  That's always an important lesson.

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