28 June 2011

Williamsburg, Part II

Yes, I have more to say about Williamsburg.  One thing I forgot to mention the first time is that some of the tours we've done are age restricted, mainly for younger kids. We did those when Sweet Pea was younger and she loved them.  Another fun thing I'd really encourage you to do is to take a carriage ride.  Yes, they cost extra, but are so fun!  You get to travel around Williamsburg like they did in the colonial days, bouncing around in a carriage being pulled by a matched pair of horses.  Now the horses may not look exactly the same, but they are matched to work together.  You get a different perspective from the high seats of the carriage and for once you get to be the ones looked upon as lucky and wave to the folks walking.

A really fun time to be in Williamsburg just happened this past weekend.  They have many revolutionary re-enactors come to town to show what it was like during Cornwallis' occupation of Williamsburg.  Not only are there Redcoats, there are Hessians, horses, colonists, and more craftsman than are usually in town.  There are demonstrations by different militia groups, some interesting craftsman (a baker using a beehive oven, one year a man who carved horns into different things), the militias drill marching around the green.  The Redcoats also take over the Capital building.  It's a fun outing and gives a good sense of how things happened.  It's always the last weekend of June so if you're looking for something fun next June, keep this in mind.

I think that's it for Williamsburg, although I make no promises!

27 June 2011

Summer school

OK, I'm ready to think about school again....sort of.  The girls are back at it today so I at least have it a bit on my mind.  Do you teach your kids anything during the summer?  Besides our vacations and other trips, we usually do some sort of school (book work) during the summer. 

Our school year usually starts at the beginning of August, goes through the end of May/first week of June, then we hit summer school.  Things start to fall apart around the second week of June for some reason, every year.  After the dance recital at the end of the month, we usually do some sort of school work 3 or 4 days a week when we can.  That means around things like camp, vacations, visits to family so not a lot of school really happens in the summer.  By the time we hit August, we're all ready to get back to the routine and there's only a visit to my brother's left to interrupt learning.  Starting early in August gives us the freedom to be able to take days off here and there when we want/need to during the rest of the year.

This year for summer school, Sweet Pea is working on finishing her science, Rosie Jane is finishing English and both are keeping up with their math as well as reading. It's not hard to get them to read.  They both have a few history books to read, plenty on their bookshelves and we hit the library as needed.

The work they do in the summer varies.  This year they both had things that needed to be finished up so they'll keep working on those.  They love the math program that they're using but I try to keep math going during the summer anyway so they don't forget how to add those fractions.  Sometimes we do fun stuff, but we always read.

Happy summer school!

24 June 2011

One favorite field trip

Since it is summer vacation, here's a field trip we enjoy.  One of our favorite places to go is Williamsburg, VA. Sweet Pea and Rosie Jane love walking down the streets of Williamsburg, it's like taking a trip back in time.  The best time to go is in the spring, when the flowers are blooming and the streets aren't crowded with the summer vacationers, although we love it any time of  the year.

Williamsburg has costumed re-enactors at the houses, shops, and restaurants as well as actors playing the parts of real people as part of it's "Revolutionary City."  The Revolutionary City recreates events leading up to the Revolutionary War.  You can buy a ticket to get into all the trades, some of the houses, the Governor's Palace and the Capital building.  One fun place to go with kids is the Benjamin Powell House.  This is at the far end of the town, behind the Capital building.  They have many colonial games for children and the interpreters there are really helpful in explaining how the children lived, learned, and played and they teach and play the games with your children.

Our family loves to go to Williamsburg for the day.  We'll head down, stop at The Cheese Shop for lunch (lots of different kinds of sandwiches, patio outside, located in Merchant's Square), we'll wander down "DoG" Street (Duke of Gloucester).  Since we have an annual pass and come down several times a year, we'll stop in the houses and trades that spark our interest that day, sometimes it's the blacksmith, sometimes one or another of the homes, often the brickyard.  Which reminds me of two more really fun things with kids at the 'Burg - the brickyard and the apprentice tours.  The brickyard is open from late spring through the summer.  There they mix the clay and shape bricks.  In the fall, the bricks are fired and used in construction projects around Colonial Williamsburg.  Sometimes the bricks are used in historic projects outside of the area as well.  The fun part about this is that they clay is mixed by stamping and stomping in a clay pit in your bare feet.  The workers there are more than happy to have guests join in!  Rosie Jane and Sweet Pea have certainly enjoyed stomping in the clay several times.  They do have a barrel of water to clean your feet when you're finished.  The other fun thing is the apprentice tour.  You have to buy a separate ticket for this but it's worth it.  The kids are taken around to three trades to experience what it was like to be an apprentice for them in the colonial days.  The girls have been to the aforementioned brickyard, the wigmaker, the blacksmith, the gunsmith, the apothecary, the bookbinder (yes, we've done it with them several times). At each stop they get to try their hand at some piece of the job and take away a souvenir, be it a clay curler or a book cover.

As you can see, we love going to Williamsburg and I think it's about time for another trip there.  If you're looking for more information to plan your own trip to Williamsburg their website is www.history.org.

23 June 2011

How did we get here?

I know it's only late June and most people are done thinking about school.  I sure am!  This week we're on vacation but as a homeschooling mom I think about school a lot, what's next, where are we headed, and good grief!!, how did I become the mom of a high schooler?  That's what I'm thinking about now, how did Sweet Pea grow up to be such a wonderful young woman headed into 9th grade this fall?

Homeschooling was easy when she was in first grade, read some great books, encourage her in her reading, learn how to add and subtract, take some cool field trips and get together with friends.  As the years went on, the math became harder, the books longer, and my time was split between Sweet Pea and Rosie Jane, but school was still fun and not too hard (at least for me) and we still did some cool field trips.  The best were when Dad could come along.  Now, though, we're starting down the high school years.  Sweet Pea is set on being homeschooled so we're heading down this new, uncharted road (at least for us).  High school seems scary but I know we can do it and I'll be sharing the journey along the way.