Saturday, May 21, 2011

Going Back in Time

Learning, Schooling, Education, whatever you want to call it, comes in all shapes and forms around here. One of our favorite activities this year was a Living History Museum.

A 16 year old homeschooled girl in our area took this project on with the help of her mother and 13 year old sister. She asked all participants to research the life of an important person in history, and then to bring that person to life for our family and friends. They were to prepare a display of some type, and step into their 'hero's' shoes for the evening.

What a great opportunity for my younger guys! History, Reading, Speech, Language, Writing, Art, Woodshop, HomeEc, Science, Geography - these are just some of the subjects we covered while preparing for this big assignment.

Esther chose to portray a lady named Frances Grayson (wife of Andrew Jackson Grayson, naturalist and artist).

She and her husband and small son traveled west on the Oregon Trail to California, with the Donner/Reed party. But, before the Donners chose to travel their infamous shortcut, the Graysons chose to stay the course and arrived in Sacramento safely before winter. Esther dressed in authentic mid-1850's clothing, and gathered a few items that may have traveled west with her, and displayed a copy of one of her husband's sketches.

Gabriel stepped (very easily, I might add) into the shoes of inventor Eli Whitney.

Yes, the man that brought us the cotton gin, but more importantly, the man who first began mass producing interchangeable parts for firearms. As Eli Whitney, he enjoyed explaining how he came up with the idea that if you could make all parts the same, you could manufacturing and repairing guns would be more efficient and more cost-effective. Gabe especially enjoyed drawing up blueprints of many of his ideas.

Noah Webster was the obvious choice for our Mr. Noah.

He took it very seriously, and devoured every book he could find at our local library concerning Mr. Webster. Already a good reader, his research inspired him and helped him see how our words are such very important tools.

One last minute addition was Mr Webster's wife. Our little Rebekah decided that she would like to join in after all (once she realized how much fun everyone was having!) and her big brother Noah came to the rescue! He remembered that Mrs. Noah Webster's wife's name was Rebecca, and so he said 'you can be my wife'. Perfect!

On the evening of our presentation, there were 15 or so different people in history portrayed by some very talented and creative homeschooled children, ranging in ages from 6 to 16. Let me see, who else was gathered together with us that night? People from our frontier like Lewis & Clark, Daniel Boone, Annie Oakley. Figures from the War Between the States such as Clara Barton and Stonewall Jackson. Spiritual heroes like Amy Carmichael and Mother Theresa. Even more modern day figures such as a lady photographer and a woman percussionist. Oh, and don't forget Jane Austen and Mary Cassat! I'm sure I've left someone out, but that gives you a little glimpse of who we were rubbing shoulders one night earlier this spring.

It was a lot of work, but a wonderful experience. So much so, that on the way home that night, my 4 pupils were already trying to decide who they would be portraying next year. That brought a big smile and a contented sigh to this totally exhausted mother. OK, and some raised eye-brows, because I was totally NOT ready to think about next year yet.

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