Saturday, July 26, 2014

More history on vacation

We had a long two day drive back home from Tennessee.  Our first day we picked Maryland as our stopping point and enjoyed watching the scenery pass us by, looking for more license plates to add to our 50 states map, listening to our Percy Jackson book on CD, watching movies, playing video games and listening to music.  We ate dinner near our hotel, after the boys had swam in the pool for a bit to get out some of that pent up energy.  We had a lovely diner at the Olive Garden and I couldn't help but think about all the extra schooling we squeezed in while on vacation.

 It may seem silly but even little things like playing mad libs every night using the restaurants kids menus helps me remember that we're always learning-- even when we're just having fun on vacation. 

On the final leg of our journey we passed a park in Pennsylvania that had tanks and helicopters by the side of the road.  It had caught our attention on the way down to Tennessee too but this time we decided to stop and see what it was all about.  The boys actually wanted to just keep driving so they could get home and play with their toys but after a bit of grumbling they soon were having fun too.

The United States Army Heritage and Education Center was amazing!

There was a trail set out in the field and we could go inside bunkers, see tanks and helicopters, compare the different structures used in wars from the civil war, to the world wars, to the Vietnam war.  There was a free activity booklet that Ian picked up with mazes, word searches, and additional information about all the buildings and equipment set up around the campus.  The boys tried their hand at some agility training; trying their hand at running the balance beams, crawling under the wires, and going up and over the wall.  They readily admitted that it was hard and we told them they'd actually be going the course with all their gear on too.

We stopped to read most of the signs and usually summarized it for Evan (and even Alec who isn't as interested in war things as Ian).

Two hours later we were finally ready to head inside the building.  

The museum is pretty small but packed with information; more information then we could possibly read in one day.  When touring the museum they give you little plastic dog tags of 6 soldiers and the interactive exhibits tells you about life for your soldier during their war time.  We all got different soldiers so the boys often compared what artillery their guy had, or how their guy traveled, if their guy survived the war, etc.  Unfortunately, the shooting range was not working (much to all the boys' disappointment) but the older two boys did try their hand at landing a virtual parachute in a field.  Ian landed in the mine field but Alec made it onto the lawn.  They got to see what wearing 100 lbs. of gear would be like; and since they all needed help to lift if they realized carrying it around all day was HUGE.

Alec wanted to take home one of the free dog tags as his souvenir and we were told that was fine.  Evan chose to buy a toy gun and asked to go back out into the field and in a few of the forts to try it out.  Ian had some personalized dog tags made up and all the boys left very happy.  It's so fun when vacation and learning combine!

Inside the motor pool

Barracks from WWI and WWII era

checking out the spin on the barrel

Civil war cannon

Alec running the course

He couldn't believe how hard it was to crawl low (especially since he's so skinny!)

Ian trying to climb up and over

Alec climbing the wall

a 18th and 19th century block house

comparing the newer tanks to older tanks

Learning about the cobra

Tiger tank used during the Korean war to try and scare the enemy

checking out the revolutionary war redoubt (or fortification)

We're in Vietnam! 

underground in a German trench

American trenches; a maze of tunnels!

Inside the museum, finding out who we are

Evan stops to watch a movie

Ian trying to land his parachute on the field

Alec's turn to land

Alec hoisting up 100 lbs. of gear

Ian poses as an army man


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  1. This looks so cool, my boy and husband would both love it!! #familyfunlinky

  2. Agree every days a learning op somewhere!! What a jam packed museum with loads of interesting interactions. Glad the boys had a blast even though they were reluctant at first!! ‪Thank you for linking up to the #familyfunlinky‬

    1. I was glad they enjoyed it too! It really was a wonderful museum and I was so glad we decided to be spontaneous like that.