Sunday, September 8, 2013

Life in the 1850s

On Friday, we had the opportunity to visit a living museum featuring a village in the 1850s. This particular museum is about 2 hours from our home but it looked very interesting and we wanted to try it out. I first heard about it last year at a Homeschool Convention but didn't want to spend the time driving with an infant. This year my daughter is older so the car rides aren't as bad. If you aren't aware of what a living museum is, I will explain. A living museum has people who act, dress, speak as though they are living in that specific time and place. This particular one is an outdoor museum that showcases an entire village. There were several buildings that looked as they did during the 1850s. We were able to walk through many of them and look at the way people would live. Some we could only peek inside, others had more than one floor to explore. There were people who wore time appropriate clothing and spoke as they would long ago. Some people spoke with us as though we were visiting and they were actually the person they were portraying. Others spoke to us as though they were teaching us how things were back then. Both types of people were interesting and fun.

As you can see in the picture above, my son had fun trying out some old time toys. This one was just a ring of wood that he could push and chase as it rolled around the field. He did this for a good 15mins and probably would have continued except that this next toy became available.

He has a little trouble with the stilts but he gave it a good try. They also had wooden horses that my daughter loved, even though they were too heavy for her to hold up.  

Here they had a station to build log houses with Lincoln Logs. My daughter sat there for quite a while trying to figure out how to build one. She is very much into Duplo right now so she expected these to work the same way. They also had paper dolls which we just brought home with us, as the workers were on a lunch break at the time.

T got to try his hand at several activities. Here he is using a plow. All of the other children we saw kept plowing the same area over and over again and said how easy it was. My son insisted he plow a section that was less worked because it would be more real. He had a little difficulty but he went all the way to the end and back, and was so proud of himself. It kind of reminded me how Montessori students do not like busy work.

Here he was basket weaving. He got a lesson on how these strips of wood were made and got to see many types of woven baskets

Leather working, he got a small piece of leather which was sprayed with a little water. Then he chose some patterned punches and hammered them to put the pattern onto the leather. He stayed there working until there was no more room left. They also gave us a lesson on how shoes were made back then.

This activity was not his favorite. Here he is making a candle by dipping the long wick into liquid wax. They used a fire with a large iron pot and the smoke was bothering him. He has very sensitive eyes and he couldn't handle this long enough to make a full candle. We went through and dipped it 4 times I think and then he was done. Most kids didn't dip for long, but there were a few patient kids that had nice thick candles. 

He really enjoyed watching the blacksmith demonstration. The blacksmith talked to them about how the fire works, the bellows, the way the metal softens and rehardens. 

We spent a large amount of time just walking through all the buildings and trying to imagine how life was so long ago.

The Cotton Gin

The Cotton Press

A loom where they were making a large blanket. The kids also got to try weaving yarn.

We learned about the differences in how people lived depending on their status. There were homes of ordinary people, wealthy people, poor people, and even slaves. My son had many questions about slaves so we talked quite a bit about that on our car ride.

 Here is a home of a wealthy family, there were several rooms in this home. In fact it was more like two homes connected. Plenty of furniture and even decorations.

My son was particularly interested in the children's room. These two photos are of the same room in the fancy home. There were nice beds with linens, furniture, decorations and even toys. It seemed a little sparse to my son who's room is overflowing with legos and other toys. But then we compared it to some of the other homes here and he saw how this home was much more fancy.

This is the slave home. My son first said that it didn't seem so bad. I had him look again. This is a house, that is one room. The bed and the eating area are right next to each other. I also had to point out that this was not a home for only one person, it was for all of the slaves.

We did have a nice little trip. I'm not sure if I will make the long drive again next year (they do a yearly homeschool day). We ended our trip with a horse drawn wagon ride which turned out to be the highlight of the day. My son got a chance to sit up front with the driver for part of the time which he loved. My daughter is all about animals right now and horses are one of her favorites. She got to pet one of them also. T promptly pulled out his legos when we got home and built his own horse drawn wagon. It was a fun day!

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