Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Carry Me Back.....Virginia

Honestly, I wasn't sure what to anticipate from Fredericksburg. That was my home base for this trip. I had read something about Battlefield Fredericksburg and Old Town Fredericksburg and figured I would check out those landmarks while we were there. Otherwise, I pre-planned to go to Monticello and the National Marine Corps Museum. The latter two had lessons I could print beforehand, review the questions, so that I can be prepared when I arrived to both places.

Now Vincent and I were reading about Thomas Jefferson prior to our trip. As always, I used Kids Discover and their lessons, BrainPOP, a video of Thomas Jefferson: Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything by Maira Kalman, and Suzanne Jurmain's book called Worst of Friends- Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and the True Story of an American Feud, both I borrowed from my public library. The book is great because it does describe a friendship that crumbled and was pieced back together with time. Not every argument you have with a close friend has to be final.

Battlefield Fredericksburg belongs to the National Park Service which means they have the Junior Ranger program! They provide your child with an activity book that is like a scavenger hunt. Touring the area while finding the answers to the questions in the book. Once they complete the book, they get a badge. Love it. Vincent had front row seating on the history of the Civil War. It was amazing and depressing, especially the cemetery adjacent to the battlefield. 100,000 solders died here (both sides) more than any other during the war. Some had only numbers on the headstone.

In Old Towne, we visited Hugh Mercer's Apothecary. This is sort of like the doctor's office, outpatient surgery and pharmacy all in one. Some of it was plain old scary; yet, there were some practices we use today with herbs and oils. Vincent really got into this visit and there's a lot of stuff that is hands on which was great.

The National Marine Corps Museum is interactive and full of so much information and artifacts. Vincent's dad is a Marine and they even had a section of his unit who happened to be the fastest expeditionary force to invade a country in the USMC's history. If you don't have any military background, it's still impressive and a must see when you are in the area. In the link I included worksheets you can use to teach students about their visit or as a supplement in the classroom.

We hiked along the Rappahannock River since it was here that the Union crossed to get to the Confederates. But, did you know Cpt. John Smith was here too? He came from Jamestown, of course, and was the first to map out the area. He came across some Native Amercans, and well, had to turn back around. Check out the link.

Finally, we get to Monticello. Absolutely beautiful. It was cool to see his design and architectural inventions, his copy of the Declaration of Independence, how being the President was so unforgiving of an experience, he did not want it on his tombstone as an accomplishment. He loved his family and grandchildren. In the same hand, there is the slave area. There is a free app that explains the life of the slaves living in Monticello. It's a great tool for teaching what their life was like and how freedom was never a choice. The Monticello Classroom has a plethora of activities for kids and lessons for teachers.

We did have to stop in and have lunch at the Michie Tavern as well as pass by Jefferson's beloved UVA (link describes the University's history for kids).

Learning is endless especially in the state of Virginia.

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