Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Love Story, a Woman Soldier, Brain Teasers and More Revolutionary City

While we had lunch in front of the Raleigh Tavern, we were surprised by a scene that we never got to see before. There is a love story set in Revolutionary City and this scene is the prequel to that. The scene is really cute and well done for the romantics! It begins with a little talk between friends.

Next Revolutionary City began. There are some changes this year, most notably being centered around the newly opened Charleton Coffeehouse. The opening act now opens there.

Now that the Coffeehouse has been built, Rev City opens in 1765 recreating a documented event that occurred here. To open the scene is the retelling of Patrick Henry's famous Caesar Brutus speech.

The actual story line is the arrival of the royal governor to the coffeehouse.  Later the stamp collector arrives and is attacked by a mob of angry citizens, who are not pleased with this latest tax from King George III. Unexpectedly, this scene became a memorable thrill!

 One of our favorite scenes is "Gale from the North". My son was talking the other night that the title is from one of Patrick Henry's speeches, which he had memorized a couple of years ago for a history presentation. My son then went into a recitation of what he could recall of the speech. It's a wonderful line and the scene, with events based on historical fact, is based around that line. I really like how CW ties everything together like this! This will now continue to be a favorite scene for more reasons than before. Also I have seen this scene develop in the last few years. I'll never forget how affected I was the first time I saw this scene. I thought it was wonderful then, but each year this actor does it better and better. It's amazing!


The next morning we went to the Lafayette program. It was great as always.We never know when we'll get to see Lafayette do his program, so whenever we happen to be in town and see it on the program, we go. I am still amazed that a Frenchman was so inspired by our efforts at liberty that he came to serve. On top of this wonderful story, the actor does an incredible job of accurately representing him. From all the reading I've done on Lafayette, I feel as though he comes to life when I see him in CW! Then there are the questions from the audience. Some I would have never thought of, which means we get to learn something new. I confess I like to stand around and hear all the questions be asked afterwards too, because the actor is a prodigious source of information. Also some of the questions during the program allow for hilarious moments! It's always an enjoyable program and definitely one of our favorites.

Afterwards we met up with our friends agoin. On our way to a dancing program, we met with this historical person who asked my son to play "Yankee Doodle" on his fife.


Then we went to the Raleigh Tavern for a dancing program where we get to dance! The dancing teacher was really good at keeping each of the family and friend groups all together. For the first dance, I got to dance with my kids and their friends! The instructor was so patient with us and funny while correcting us. I was wondering how in the world she was going to teach all of us these dances in the allotted time, but she did. We had a lot of fun!

Afterwards we split up and the kids and I had a few bites of lunch, then realized we had to hurry to see a special program. March is Women's History month at CW and one of the programs was at the Magazine. A woman soldier was telling everyone about women who fought in the American Revolution. My son got to do the program with his dad on Sat, but my daughter and I were at the sewing class. I know my son enjoyed the program for a second time. The stories were interesting. As much as I thought I knew, I learned a lot of new stuff. That never surprises me at CW!

As we walked down the street to find a spot for the beginning of Revolutionary City, my kids were asked to come over to this fellow from the past. He is hilarious. You can listen to his podcast where he tells the story of "The Combustible Woman." Well this afternoon he was teasing all the kids by asking them thinking questions that are like riddles. Before he began, he told me to be quiet no matter what, because he knew I would know the answer. He's right, I did know the answer! It was just bugging me! (This is the beginning of Rev City and I knew he'd want a reaction out of me!) He could tell I knew the answer but he told me to just walk away. "Go away Mom," he said, "Let it go. Let it go. This is for your children." It was hilarious watching the kids try to figure out why they couldn't answer these "trick" questions. Finally my son redeemed himself with the final question. However my daughter never got a single one. The man said that's okay, she was pretty enough to marry a smart young man, because that's the way they thought back then.

The kids and I were laughing and laughing at something new we saw that afternoon. The actors will never cease to amaze me! CW is so much fun!  One of the major scenes on this day was the arrival of Benedict Arnold. The actor is excellent in this role! He is so good in fact, that my son who is dressed as Lafayette, always tries to hide from him and not be noticed. My husband however, is a bit of a troublemaker. He always tries to stand as close to the front as possible to yell negative comments at Arnold. My son, however, stands far, far away from his dad during this scene!

After Revolutionary City, we headed towards Market Square to complete an errand before the final scene. After we accomplished our task, we settled under the trees to wait for the fife and drum corps to arrive. The troops meanwhile, were waiting to be inspected.

Soon General Lafayette arrived...

followed by General Washington, who addressed the troops.

Then there was a display of the artillery...


We had an incredible time! We have now re-entered the 21st century, studying the Cold War and the Space Race in history, yet anticipating our next journey through the time travel machine back to the American Revolution.

Monday, March 29, 2010

In Defense of Liberty at Colonial Williamsburg

On our recent visit to Colonial Williamsburg we attended an evening program, "In Defense of Liberty", at the Magazine (where the weapons are stored). Incidentally, we found out our friends had tickets to the same program! My daughter and I were a bit worried about this program. It is a 100% participation program and involves the firing of guns nearby. We "actually" enlist in the army and go through a sort of boot camp.
We recognized the first sergeant as someone we always enjoyed in the EFTs as a calm, mild mannered gentleman. Well, his entire demeanor changed as he became a tough as nails first sergeant.

So here I was in Colonial Williamsburg, enlisting as a soldier in the Continental Army for three years, giving up all my rights, learning to work as a unit, in patriotic duty to my country ready to endure hardship.  We had to conform to the army way, answer the army way and move as a unit the army way. The sergeant had everyone's riveted attention. There was no joking around. We were all quiet and at attention. Whenever we were given orders, we yelled, "Yes Sergeant!" in unison. 

It was also explained to us that banners were used on the battlefield so that soldiers could identify their units and leadership. In the tumult of battle, things get messy and confusing. Being the source of corps morale, the flag bearer has the most important job of keeping the flag flying high in the midst of gun shots and blasting cannons. Even though confusion reigned, as long as the standard bearer kept the flag flying high, a unit could remain organized and motivated to keep fighting. Furthermore, the flag bearer had a most perilous job, because one of the goals of the enemy was to seize the flag in order to bust morale and create confusion in the rank. Most certainly a trophy of honor was to capture the enemy's flag.

Then began our reenactment of a battle. Quite quickly I was killed (a tap on the shoulder by someone from the opposing army meant we had to drop dead). Hmmm...perhaps standard next to the standard bearer wasn't such a good idea after all.
At the end, the first sergeant became himself (nice, gentle, kind, considerate) and gave us some historical background from a famous writer.  Afterwards I went to talk to him and asked him about this writer. He told me about the book, Private Yankee Doodle by Joseph Plumb Martin. That is the second time I've heard that book referenced. The first time it was recommended by my son's favorite actor in reference to his infamous sword question. I have had it in the bookcase for years and have only used it for reference. I'm looking forward to reading it. This is an invaluable book when learning about the American Revolution because Martin fought in the revolution. This first hand account gives many valuable insights. 

As we walked to the vans, my daughter enthusiastically said that she had fun! What? Was I hearing things? My girlie girl daughter, who is normally terrified of loud noises, had fun? Actually, so did I! I gained a huge appreciation for the soldiers who give up their liberties so that we can have ours.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Talking to the Blacksmith about Swords

Then we went to the blacksmith so my son could ask his infamous long term research question, "Were swords ever sharpened historically?" (A Civil War reenactor last summer told us swords were never sharpened or useful, even in eras before the Civil War.) We got an excellent answer with documentation from the blacksmith. I'm sure we'll be continuing this research project as we recycle through our history by returning to the Ancients next year and reading lots more books. Then my son asked about a million more questions about the process of blacksmithing. That day they were making hinges.

That day they were making hinges.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Taming of the Shrew at the Playbooth Theater

One of my favorite programs at Colonial Williamsburg is the work of the Playbooth Theater. On our most recent visit we got to watch some Shakespeare. This picture is from the "Taming of the Shrew." They were encored a lot! Actually I'm surprised I caught her in a smile in this picture, because she did a great job of being an angry, wild shrew. Now that I have sewn a colonial gown, I can appreciate her having to act like a shrew in one!

Afterwards I asked one of the actors several questions and we learned a lot about the use of music with Shakespearan plays as well as imitation vs. creativity in the 18th century. I have learned so much from watching their plays and talking to them about the history of theater.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Peek at the Beginnings of a Gentleman's Winter Coat at the Tailor's

On the day that we visited the tailor he was cutting out patterns in preparation for making a new winter coat for a gentleman. A tailor makes his own patterns and they are exclusively his property. Therefore I knew this was a privilege to get to see him using them.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spring Pastel Millinery Offerings

Spring pastel millinery offerings include this lovely soft green gown with sheer striped apron, cape and cap. This is a good color for me. I'd love to recreate this!

My daughter's favorite pastel offering is this lovely soft purple with sheer ruching for a little girl.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bluebirds in a Colonial Birdbottle and Friends

     Last summer we finally got a colonial bird bottle at an auction at Colonial Williamsburg.  We debated on where to put it.  We thought we'd try it on the deck edge, where we could see the bottle from the family room on the deck level or the basement walkout window on the ground level.  Last week we realized some bluebirds moved in!  My son took these terrific pictures!

Here is Mr. Bluebird in all his glory...

Here is Mrs. Bluebird, more subdued...

Here are some friends. We listened to the dove coo all afternoon...

Here is the squirrel. I think he is looking for my hibiscus plant!

 If you are looking for a fun nature project to do with your kids (or on your own), bird bottles from Colonial Williamsburg almost guarantee a bird in your yard!  There is also a cute children's book called The Bottle Babies to use with the bottle! The book is available at Colonial Williamsburg and all the proceeds go towards the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Learning about Market Wallets, Work Bags and Pockets

In March, the Colonial Williamsburg Costume Design Center offered an 18th century sewing class on market wallets, work bags and pockets as part of their 75th anniversary celebration.   This time, my daughter was taking the class as well, using money she received from grandparents for Christmas.  Usually we take classes at Bruton Heights. This time we took the class at the Costume Design Center so that we could use their sewing machines!  Wow! It was incredible to be surrounded by costumes worn in the historic area and to be sitting where those costumes were sewn. (The costumes are partially machine stitched, for the economics of time for a massive production schedule.  However anything that will be seen, is hand sewn.)  Another thrill was using the various sewing implements and opening the drawer in the desk that was full of a rainbow of colored thread, to perfectly match with our fabrics!  On top of that we were surrounded by some of the CDC seamstresses themselves, who helped us as needed.  How could a sewing class be more wonderful than this?

The class began around a work table with displays of the objects we'd be making: market wallets, workbags and pockets. This class is more than how to sew, or even how to sew historically. It is also a history lesson! It is amazing how I feel a stronger sense of history and an appreciation for seamstresses of yore and for those who wore the products, when I leave these classes.  The instructor asked who had no experience with sewing. That was basically my daughter. She struggles with working with her hands and I am always putting projects in them for her to develop skills, however the sewing machine hasn't been one of them.  The instructor was really excited for an opportunity to work with her and encouraged us all to not worry about being neat but to go ahead and have uneven stitches, like many did historically.

     First we made market wallets, which are huge rectangular bags meant to be slung over the shoulder to carry items when going to market.  You can see many of the interpreters in the historic area using these to carry things around in.

My daughter and I each began one for my son. We plan to give these to him for his birthday or Christmas, I guess whenever we get done.  I'm sure he'll be especially enamored with them when I tell him I saw his favorite actor arrive in the historic area for one of the special event weekends with one of these slung over his shoulder.  We are doing a combination of machine stitching and hand stitching on these. We didn't get to finish, because we had two other projects to start. However we were sent home with a packet of instructions.  We did enough to know how to finish the project. This is the one I started.
    Next we made work bags.  These names do not do the gorgeous bags justice. They are an opportunity for a seamstress to showcase her best work. These were for a lady to carry her sewing implements and carry from a strap around her arm, like a purse.

 Our printed directions were for machine sewing, which I've done before. I decided to take the hand sewing challenge, which has a  different sequences of events. I hope I remember what to do!  We didn't have time to decorate them, so I thought I'd save the sewing of the outside bag for when I take another class from the CDC which teaches us how to make trim. I plan to use it for my workbag. My workbag has a sage green silk fabric for the outside and a cream silk for the lining.
Finally we did pockets, which can be as simple as plain linen or as elaborate as embroidery.

Pockets were extremely important to ladies.  They were worn under all the skirts and petticoats.  You never get to see the embroidery.  Ladies owned very little in the 18th century, since everything was in their husbands' name. The few things they might own would be carefully kept in these pockets.  They were hands off to every one else!

I machine sewed mine with a French seam, which was a new skill to me, then I started handsewing the binding which is easy. I chose this fabric, not only because I liked it, but because I hope to pull out elements for a pattern to do crewel work on another piece someday. The instructor  encouraged to piece the pocket together, as in sewing together smaller pieces of fabric for the face of one side. This was commonly done. As proof, she showed us a picture of a pocket in a historical collection, made of many square pieces, like patchwork. As I helped my daughter get started on hers, I found we would have to piece her fabric, as there wasn't enough of one piece. The instructor loved it!  Because I wanted to accomplish much of the pocket, since the directions were completely new to me, I decided not to piece.  I was handsewing the binding and feeling awful about my uneven stitches, but the instructor liked them!


Meanwhile the instructor spent a lot of time teaching my daughter. She was really terrific and my daughter had fun learning from her!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Master Bedroom Closet Remodel

One day I heard a crash from the master bedroom closet. Oh, no. One entire end of the clothesrack had crashed down. This is not the first it's happened. The problem is a combination of oddly installed clothes racks and all the costumes I have sewn. My husband says that specifically it's the Lafayette costume causing trouble. I have my son's wool cloak on top of the entire wool Lafayette costume in order to conserve space but that is prodigiously heavy. I also have costumes from all the eras across time for me and the kids, especially the extremely heavy Elizabethan costumes. They, not my clothes, caused the crash. In fact, I think I have more costumes than I have modern clothes. 

The biggest problem, though, are the poorly installed clothes racks. My husband can easily fix that.

All along we've decided to upgrade the closet with organizers like the closet in our Texas house. In fact, when the real estate agent went through our Texas house over a year ago, he couldn't take enough pictures of everything in the house including our closet. That is really hilarious because it was a small master bedroom closet but it was nice and neat. He was impressed! 

Now that we had this huge crash we thought we'd push the job to the top of the "to do list." Our plan was to use the same products but reconfigure them to the dimensions of this particular closet. In Texas we had used cherry cabinetry from Closet Maid from Lowes, which they no longer sell. I looked on-line and found it at Home Depot so my husband picked it up there. It's called cherry but it's really a lighter color.

After taking everything out and patching the walls, he painted my side of the closet. (He's saving his side for later to finish. After all he still has the kitchen to finish that he started in Jaunuary!) We inherited this house where every wall and every closet needs to be repainted. It is wonderful to finally have clean walls in the closet.  I hated to use these closets unpainted but my husband insisted we delay the paint job on them.

Finally my husband called me up for the big reveal.

This is looking at the closet door on the far left...

Panning to the right. I am now standing near the closet door and taking a picture of where I was previously standing.

Panning further right to the window in my closet. Now that's what every gal needs, a window in her closet.  From the inside it doesn't make any sense. But from the outside, it makes plenty of sense. The architecture is colonial so everything is symmetrical. To the far right of the window you can see my husband's stuff. All he has to do one of these days is repaint the walls.

About all I have left to hang are the costumes. I was figuring out what to do with them because the rack for long clothes isn't sturdy enough.  When I explained that to my husband he told me he'll get an extra bracket, which has since been added.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

WWII Admiral Chester Nimitz and Fredericksburg, Texas

     Do you know who Admiral Chester Nimitz is? I've known since I was a little girl growing up in Central Texas!  He was Commander in Chief of the Pacific during World War II. About 1.5 hours from where I grew up in San Antonio, Texas is a quaint German town in the Texas Hill Country, called Fredericksburg.  Incidentally, I have a friend who was new to the area who visited with her family upon my recommendation. She was highly disappointed that Fredericksburg didn't look anything like Germany. It's not meant to. This town was settled by weary German immigrants in the 1840's. Using available materials from the land, timber and limestone, they built a town constructing buildings from familiar designs they knew in Germany.  They made a peace treaty with the vicious Comanche. To secure peace, an army post was established nearby. Because of the lasting peace treaty, the army post soon closed.  

     In this town a man by the name of Nimitz bought a hotel, later adding a steamship type structure to the architecture after 1888.  It was here, at the Nimitz Hotel,  where a little boy named Chester Nimitz helped his grandfather run the hotel.  Later Chester Nimitz attended the Naval Academy, ultimately becoming the Commander of the South Pacific in World War II.  Henry Fonda played Nimitz in the movie Midway and as I recall,  one of his lines refers to Fredericksburg as he made a decisive decision. 

     Today, that hotel has been converted into The National Museum of the Pacific War.  It is excellent!  We spent an entire day in there about 4 yars ago and my kids, young as they were, learned a lot. There were a lot of life size settings for us to feel a part of things.  We stood on the deck of a Japanese submarine looking out at the twinkling lights of Honolulu. We stood on the beach of one of the islands, watching our guys prepare for battle. We read in horrified silence as we relived one of the most poignant stories we had studied in school, the Bataan Death March. One of my favorite stories I read at the museum was about Nimitz flying over Fredericksburg enroute to the other side of the country.  He dropped a note or something out of the plane for his loved ones below.

    I meet a lot of people who travel to San Antonio.  I always encourage people to drive out of the city to the hill country.  Fredericksburg and the old Nimitz Hotel, now called the National Museum of the Pacific War, are excellent visits! 

Friday, March 12, 2010

CW EFT: The Rights of Youth

     The latest Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trip, the Rights of Youth, took us on a journey to the past to explore how children were punished for various crimes in the 18th and 19th centuries. Comparisons were made to contemporary times.  

     In preparation, we first watched the broadcast which is available on-line at the EFT website. Although numerous stories of children are told, the main story line is about Ann King, a 13 year old orphan girl in England, who stole 2 handkerchiefs to sell for food.  She was sentenced to be transported to the colony of Virginia as an indentured servant. This sentence may seem harsh, but we learned that punishments today and in the past are based on the value of the stolen object. These handkerchiefs in the 18th century were considered quite valuable.  Her continuing story developed through each of the three segments, while stories of other children were told.      

     The funniest story was about the lawyer who puts a whole new meaning to "choose...ing...his...words...care...ful...ly" by...take...ing...pause...es be...tween...each...syl...la...ble Arrgh!!!!!!!!! The judge was admittedly hot, tired, hungry and...IRRITABLE! Boys playing ball against the building's wall only compounded the situation, while interrupting the lawyer, making the judge overly irritable, calling them in to pronounce judgement!  

     After viewing the broadcast, we read through the background notes in the Teacher Resource packet.  There is always a glossary of terms, which proved especially invaluable for legal terms in this EFT, like murder and manslaughter.  Then my kids played the two on-line games on the EFT website and did the on-line vote.

     On Thursday, the day of the live broadcast, students from across the country got to interact with 4 people on the set, two historical and two contemporary.  Representing the historical era was a sheriff from Richmond and Ann King herself!  The sheriff was really terrific at expounding his strong base of knowledge for all the questions asked!  It was also a rare treat for the kids to speak directly to a 13 year old from history.   Representing the contemporary times was a CW historian and a law professor from the College of William and Mary. After the first segment, my daughter e-mailed Ann King about why the judge chose Virginia to send her to.

       Although I have pretty good kids, they have a way of making mistakes from time to time, like any us. Thankfully neither I nor today's legal system would punish them like this...

       That summer we were on vacation in Colonial Williamsburg when they were 8 and 11. People can always be found literally hanging out in the stocks having vacation pictures made. The stocks were a completely different matter in the 18th century. We learned in the EFT that children could have their ears nailed to the pillory and then cut off after time served.  

      Last year, during the CW program "Under the Redcoat", my children were nearly arrested and put in gaol (jail) by the British! 

(I'm not certain what specifically inspired my friend, but after she and her husband read about our experiences with "Under the Redcoat", they changed up their summer vacation plans and are now booked to do UTR in 2010! It's not everyday one's children get arrested by the British!  The British were trying to egg us on to complain about our kids', but I couldn't do that, I want to keep good relations with my kids! Besides they are pretty good. Not much to complain about.  Nevertheless I enjoyed the entire situation, cheerfully taking pictures from behind the Redcoat while my husband assumed his military demeanor.  My kids felt like this was the real thing!  They had read about these very scenarios in books, now they were living it!) Now what was the reason for the arrest? It is the middle of the American Revolution, the British have taken over the town, and my children are not able to produce their passes, proving that they had signed an oath of allegiance to the king.  These could not be produced because we had not signed any, nor did we plan to. Today, we'd expect the parents to be punished for not having legal paperwork signed.  In the eighteenth century children were held responsible too.

        Stay tuned for more CW EFTs, available to homeschoolers through Homeschool Buyers Co-op.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Quantico Museum: Korean War

    Because we studied about the Korean War this past week, we went to Quantico Museum to see the Marine Corps' involvement in the conflict. My  husband decided to do this one with us.

     The exhibits were well done. The first exhibit is a 1950's classroom, where a movie plays, simulating a lesson after a drill in preparation for possible nuclear attack. The teacher reviews the reasons for the drill, talking about Communisim, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tung...all of which we've been learning recently.

This was an interesting room where you stand on a metal floor that vibrates as if you are on the deck of a transport boat, about to undertake MacArthur's daring plan to invade Korea.  Before the attack, we watched a video of the various commanders who disagreed with MacArthur's plan.  We knew the outcome of the debate because of our history readings. 

After the video was over, the invasion began. The screen raised and you became part of the boat full of marines.

We saw an exhibit on the invasion of Seoul, Korea.

We also learned about the terrible winter, weather temperatures 20 degrees below zero, as the marines struggled to fight the Communists in the mountains.

My kids remarked how it all made sense and heightened their history reading. It took about 2 hours to do the entire Korean War exhibit!  Now that is firmly under our belt, we are pursuing the Eisenhower administration and the beginning of the Vietnam conflict. We shall return!  

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Battle of Hampton Roads Weekend at the Mariner's Museum

     We had another great weekend. This time we thought we'd give Colonial Williamsburg a break from us, by going to Newport News to visit the Mariner's Museum. To our surprise, we saw people from CW there!  Yes, they recognized us. Two of them pitted us against each other!  The kids and I are now labeling CW employees as the quiet ones, the mischevious ones, and the potentially mischevious ones! It was a lot of fun! 

     The Mariner's Museum is absolutely wonderful! The focal exhibit is the Monitor and the Merrimac, which I blogged about when we visited in Sept.  This weekend we spent most of our time doing living history stuff from the Civil War, because it was the Battle of Hampton Roads weekend.  During a break I was perusing a map of the museum and found out they have displays on WWII (just studied that), they have a display of a German enigma machine (No way! We read about that!), and they have a section on the Cold War (which we are studying now).  I had no idea! Anyway we'll be back because we didn't have enough time to do all of the museum. Anyway, on to the Civil war stuff. I know I usually post pictures, but the sign at the museum said pictures were only for personal use. Although I got a lot of great pictures of the living history experiences, I want to honor the museum so I won't share them here.   

     Friday our first stop was to the courtyard where there were games of the Civil War era. The first game was gambling, which my kids refused to do but watched. The guy in charge had me roll the dice for the other family playing. He said good honest people like my kids are usually influenced in the military by people like those gambling, who were probably from New York. The other family was laughing and shaking their heads no. Then the kids were taught to play a version of Monkey in the Middle.  The person in the middle had to guard a barrel while my daughter and reenactor threw the ball to each other over my son's head.  If they saw a chance, they tried to hit the barrel to knock my son out. Eventually the reenactor had me get in the game and two more reenactors joined us. It was cold outside so playing helped me to stay warm but my fingers were rather cold for all of this!  Then one of the reenactors gave my daughter and I some rope rings to play quoits (like our horseshoes.)  My daughter caught on quickly and got 2 rings on a peg. Then my son played and he got all 3 on a peg.  Then they had us play lawn bowling and my son won that! By then other kids joined in and they went back to playing the protect the barrel game.

         Our next stop was inside for a music program.  I appreciated sitting, while warming up inside and out to great humor and music of the era. We learned about a lot of musical instruments of the time and period music as well. It was an interactive event and my son had lots of answers for many of the questions.  We learned about the jaw harp, harmonica, parlor guitar, flute, different whistles, the banjo and the fiddle.  I think that's all of them.  They packed a lot of information into 30 minutes.

     After lunch we took a tour of the conservation work done at the museum. We got to see parts of the Monitor that have been recovered from the ocean, that are still undergoing clean up.  I had a ton of questions, many of which were science based, and the conservator liked them! My son had several questions at the end which the conservator liked too. 

     After lunch we went back to the courtyard for more living history. We talked to the cook.  Although we had learned about Civil War food several months ago, we learned a few new things. Then we learned about knot tying from a Civil War sailor. He put my son to work helping him to make rope.  The reenactor was full of information and we learned a lot! Then we saw the officer from a Civil War ship.  He was explaining to an elderly man the process and necessity of taking depth readings.  It was all new information to the man but the kids and I already knew all this stuff, thanks to all the books we read in history class!  On the table were fun things like a sextant, a map of depth readings in Hampton Roads  and a giant book. I was wondering if that book was the work of Nathaniel Bowditch. It was! We learned about him in our history studies too!  Then the officer talked to us about hand to hand combat on the ship. Now here was new information! We had read a lot about engagements on ships. Now we got to hear about and hold in our hands the very weapons used on board ship in hand to hand combat.  Then my son asked the infamous "So where do you stand on sharpening swords?" question.  This is a long story, but has become a major process of researching over the last several months. We've been turning up interesting information!

     About this time it was time for the reenactors to go home. We went to the WWII part of the museum. We saw a German enigma machine!  We saw the control panel of a submarine. We saw a torpedo and heard an actual engagement in its use. There was a cool interactive radar screen that my son touched to bring up different videos on history on the submarine. Did you know George Washington commissioned the development of a submarine called the Turtle? The kids want to ask him about it next time they see him in CW. We sat in a ready room while watching various videos on the Navy in the Cold War.

     I was running out of steam so we ran out for a quick bite of dinner.  We quickly walked through a huge part of the museum to do so.  There is a lot of great stuff we skipped. We'll just have to come back sometime!  After a quick bite, we returned for the unveiling of the art show my son entered. There were over 100 entries and there is a special exhibit for them in one of the rooms. The theme was the Battle of Hampton Roads, which was the engagement of the ironclads, the Monitor and the Merrimac. It was actually a contest, which my son did not win. He was a good sport though and we went through and looked at all the art. Then exhausted from a long day, we went to our hotel.

     When we checked into the hotel the guy in charge recognized us...again. In fact much of the staff does and always comment on recognizing us.  When this guy checked us in he said we really need to buy a house down there.  

     The next day we started in front of the museum. One of the reenactors started talking to my son and they must have talked for an hour.  They talked about all kinds of things like sword sharpening...or not.  Another guy came and shared his bugle blowing skills, which we had learned about in our Civil War studies.  We also talked about his rifle.  Throughout the weekend, the cannons fired and rocked the building.  While talking to these men, we were standing right by the action. We finally made it inside and there was a display of swords and cutlasses. Is that the right name? Well my son asked him the infamous sword question too.

     Then we officially checked in for the day and saw a bit of the NOAA exhibit. They protect the Monitor which is now in the bottom of the ocean.  They had cutout replicas of the Monitor to make.  The sailor gave one each to my daughter and son. My son found out there are two ways to make them, one above the water line and one below.  So my daughter gave him her copy so he can make both.

     Then we returned to the music show and it was a bit different from the day before.   We did the song, "Old Dan Tucker" which I remembered from my Laura Ingalls Wilder reading days.  The history of the song is fascinating.  When he sang it I was thinking we should be filling in where he didn't sing, because I thought the title of the song should be sung in the blank spots. Well guess what? He stopped the music to give us a hard time and tell us to do just that! He said we were too quiet. He even put a Northern lady in charge of some wild yell. We weren't very good imitators of audiences of the 19th century, but we had a lot of fun! I bought a cd from them which we listened to on the way home and I think my son has the songs all memorized.  When we got home and told his dad every detail of the music programs and everything he learned on the cds.  Some of the music is the same. My husband isn't a history buff, but he enjoys music.  He likes the cd and enjoyed all the music stories!  

     Over lunch we went over all the information we have accumulated on the sharpening of swords, or not, gained so far.  I had the kids analyze which responses from the weekend appeared to be the most accurate and why. Well we're not done researching.  We have more questions, that are now more refined, for various people at CW and more leads for library research. My kids are learning a lot of analysis through this!

     After lunch we revisted the reenactors out front. We talked to officers who told us about their unit and how their uniforms were patterned after Napoleon's soldiers. They also told us the difference between the use of the Napoleonic cannon and the one they were firing that weekend. I mentioned to my son Napoleon had a lot of influence! Then we went to another tent and saw what a soldier would have packed.  Then we talked to the bugler again about his music. 

     Finally we went to the photograhy tent. Photography was a fascinating aspect of our reading when we studied the Civil War a year ago. Last Sept I got to talk to a Civil War photographer and see the photography in process. As a result,  I wasn't sure what to ask this time. While talking we thought of more questions and learned more things. That was the neat thing this weekend. We've been to a few other Civil War reenactments, seen most of the same displays, yet we learned a lot of new things.  The reenactors are full of information and are just looking for people to listen to them.  Visiting living history programs with reenactors are a great field trip to add to any school agenda to bring history books to life!

Monday, March 1, 2010

How I Make our Writing Resource Notebooks

        Ever since mentioning our personal, homemade writing resource notebooks for myself and my children, I have been asked numerous times about the specific categories and information within the notebooks.  Although I initially hesitated to detail the answers to this question, it is a common enough question to be addressed. Also I realize that sharing my categories might prove to be idea initiators for others. 

      First, the friends who have asked about my notebooks, are all users of Institute for Excellence in Writing, like I am.  I got most of my resources from our IEW yahoo loop. There are terrific printables in the files.  I went through them one by one and anything that looked good, I printed out.  If applicable, I printed 3 copies, one for me and each of the kids. I have also printed out posts.  When I am really organized, I copy and paste the relevant posts into Word, according to specific categories and print them out. Additionally I have included articles written by Andrew. As much as I enjoy being organized, my notebook has suffered in the last year due to our move from Texas to Virginia.  I am still catching up while keeping up with things around here. Suffice to say,  I have an imperfect notebook right now, but that good news is that that gives me a grand opportunity to tell you how I use it as a work in progress! Otherwise, I probably wouldn't have thought of it!

     When I first made the notebooks, I laid out all the copies of materials I had printed and laid them in stacks for categories that made sense to me. There are pictures in general of our notebooks in the link above. However I won't share detailed pictures here, since I don't know if anything is copyrighted.  Nevertheless, those who use the yahoo files should easily find these categories. I have tried to list the titles of the stuff I printed out. Everything in the files over there are categorized by product. The stuff in the TWSS files are categorized by the units they cover.  Anything for my notebook only are denoted by a *.

     My notebook is nearly identical with my kids.  Although a lot of this stuff is easy for me, I want to know what my kids have access to, so at any time I can look at my notebook and direct them to what they should have in their notebook. (Note the key word "Should.")   I have kept all the copies in my binder, then gave the kids their copies as needed so they wouldn't be overwhelmed. This also highlights for me which areas we haven't done much with yet.  

     When I open my notebook, the first page is a great flow chart of the writing process. The last thing I have before the tabbed pages is a Progress Worksheet for all of the TWSS units.  There is a grid to keep track of the skills mastered for each quarter.  This could also go in my general teacher notebook where I do all of my lesson planning. In fact, while I think about it, I think that is where I shall move that. I love the flexibility of three ring binders.  Anyway, I put these items here, in front of the tabs, for quick reference for the overall program.

     Following are the listings of the tabs in the order of learning the IEW writing models.  Behind those I put Stylistic Techniques. Then more general information that I liked, I put behind that. 

Tab 1-Units I and II: KWO

Key Word Outline Reminders/Composition Reminders

Tab 2-Unit III:Summarizing Narrative Stories

Unit 3 Model example

*Copy of Andrew's post on "Value of Creative Writing"

Tab 3-Unit IV: Summarizing References

Unit IV Model example

*Copies of Andrew's articles, "Encyclopedia Dad" and "What? or That!...Reflections on Reports"

Tab 4-Unit VII: Creative Writing

Unit VII Model example

*Andrew's post on "Value of Creative Writing"

Letter Writing Model

Thank You Letter Writing Model

Information Letter Writing Model

Opinion Letter Writing Model

*Andrew's post on Journaling...or Not

*Wonderful post on Imitating Authors.This is hilarious!

*Andrew's article on "Why Creative Writing"

Tab 5-Unit VI: Library Research Report

Unit VI Model example (I have several versions of this.  I thought I'd see which model was most helpful to my kids.)

Help for Multiple Resource Writing

*Posts on "Works Cited"

Tab 6-Unit VIII: Formal Essay

Unit VIII Models

Unit VIII Writing Checklist

Super Essay Flowcharts

*Jill's "Brainstorming for a Super Essay Assignment"

*Andrew's article "To Assay the Essay..."

(We are currently going through an IEW product called The Elegant Essay.  I will put together tips from the book, typing them into Word and then printing them out for the notebook.)

Tab 7-Unit IX: Critique

Unit IX Model

Basic Concepts

Important Teaching Points

*Response to Literature-Models and Strategies, grade 4-6

Tab 8-Literary Analysis (Now that I'm done with the TWSS units, I am starting my misc tabs.  This one on literary analysis I thought was a natural fit behind tab 7 on critiques.)

*Posts on literary analysis

*Post by Jill on analyzing poetry

Tab 9-Stylistic Techniques

5 page printout

Tab 10-Strong Verbs

Quick Reference Strong Verbs

posts on passive verbs

Tab 11-Quality Adjectives

Character Trait list

Quick Reference Quality Adjectives

Tab 12-"-ly" Adverbs

-ly Adverbs Combined List

Tab 13-Adverbial Clause (www.asia) There is nothing here yet.

Tab 14-Who/Which

Invisible Who/Which

Advanced Who/Which's, plus Invisibles

Tab 15-Transitional Clincher (Nothing here yet.)

Tab 16-Prepositions

Preposition list

List of 110 Prepositions

Tab 17-"Ing" Opener

posts on "ing" opener

Tab 18-Transitional

post on "A New Sentence Opener"

Tab 19-Similes (Nothing here yet.)

Tab 20-Metaphors (Nothing here yet.)

Tab 21-Alliteration (Nothing here yet.)

Tab 22-Writing Models

Writing Models Flowchart

3 page print out on Forms and Functions of Writing

Tab 23-Comparison and Contrast

*Posts printed out on comparison and contrast

*Sample comparison and contrast by Jill called "Reflections"

Tab 24-Checklists

*Printed checklists from the files that I was deciding upon which to use.

Tab 25-SAT/ACT Essays

*posts printed out on SAT/ACT Essays

     That's it..at this time. I have lots of print outs that don't have a home in the notebook yet:

A Writer's Guide to Powerful Paragraphs by Victor Pellegrino (This is not from the files. Rather, it came with his books, sold by IEW.)

Posts on the meaning of "i.e.", "et al", and "e.g."

"How to Extend IEW to Literature" by Andrew (Possibly in front of the tabs?  This explains how to use literature with TWSS units III-VIII.)

    There is more to be categorized in Word and printed from my email. When I see something I like in a post from the IEW loop, I categorize it under IEW within my e-mail. I'm not familiar with all the different e-mail programs, but this is a nice feature with gmail.  Also all of my messages of like topic stack up, so I don't have to create multiple folders to store my e-mails, like I did in Outlook Express. Additionally, when I am looking for a topic in gmail, I can easily do a search. (By the way, all of these benefits help me with moderating several yahoo homeschool groups as well.) This is my method of organization until I can get time to organize the new information into our resource notebooks.  

     I hope this helps! Let me know if there are any questions.