Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Trot, Trot back to Boston

We took a field trip to celebrate Columbus Day on Monday.  We had not taken the kids to do the Freedom Trail since they were little and {gasp} they didn't remember it.

We have always started on the Boston Common end of the Freedom Trail and never made it to the end...which is the Navy Ship Yard and the USS Constitution.  A little research revealed that The National Park Service had a parking garage near the Ship Yard.

I'm so glad we started on that end!  It was fun to see a different part of Boston and to also see Charlestown.
My parents have a painting of the USS Constitution and I only recently realized that it was THAT ship that was moored right here in Boston.  Here are the kids in front of "Old Ironsides."
This friendly sailor was fresh out of boot camp and delighted to have scored a Boston gig.
The kids were pretty impressed with the cannon balls (lower right corner).
Quite an impressive battleship.
No idea what this was but had some eager posers.  ha.
There was also another ship, the USS Cassin Young, that we were able to board and explore.
Chloe was impressed with the size of this mixer!
Nice view of the Old North Church from the ship.
This one is for you, Dad!  {Private joke}

We then visited the Museum at the Navy Yard but didn't have time to do it justice.  At all.  But we had things to see and so we pressed on.

We hiked into Charlestown (still following the Freedom Trail red bricks the marked the it out for us) to see the Bunker Hill Monument.
There are 294 steps to the top of the monument where you can get a breathtaking view of the city.  There is a notice at the entrance that people with heart conditions should not attempt it.  Kate and SaraGrace wanted to try but didn't make it very far, so Molly took the rest of the kids to the top and I waited for them at the bottom with my heart babies.  (I was secretly happy to have an excuse not to make the climb - haha).

Molly thought it was cool to find out that the battle of Bunker Hill took place on her birth date.
Clearly, I have been missing out on the stunning views in Charlestown.  So incredibly pretty there.

Then it was time to head back into Boston because we were all starving and we needed to work on our Junior Ranger books.  I kept thinking Quincy Market was 'just around the corner,' but alas....  it was around many, many corners.  The kids were troupers for the most part.
Katie started to struggle so the bigger kids took turns giving her rides.  Jordan made an attempt and they both almost fell over.  Rather comical...but so sweet of him to want to help her.
"Seriously, Mom, you're killin' us here."
Finally found some overpriced ham and cheese sandwiches and sat by the fountains to snarf them while finishing up our Junior Ranger books.  By this time, our feet were throbbing but the show must go on.
Some guy offered to take a picture of all of us.
Ben Franklin offered us a photo op and then wanted $2 for the privilege. 
Sworn in as Junior Rangers for their Boston badge.  This guy took his job very seriously and tried to quiz the kids on some of the material in the book.  They were mortified and most of them just stood there wordlessly. 
Acrobats in front of Quincy Market.  There were other performers in front of Fanieul Hall which enthralled the kids.  Only the lure of the gift shop at the Navy Yard could tear them away.
We couldn't leave the area without making a quick dash to the Old State House.  It is being refurbished so one whole side is covered with scaffolding. 

I thought it was important for them to see the spot where the Declaration of Independence was read to the people of Boston.  (Above door, being repaired, and I think there is usually a balcony railing there.)
Beautiful staircase inside. 

Next trek was back to the Ship Yard and we made a brief stop at the Old North Church so they could see where Paul Revere and William Dawes awaited the lantern signal.
Last stop of the day was the Museum Store where the kids bought some souvenirs.  The kids were sure that we walked a million miles due to our aching feet but all agreed that it was a very fun day!

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Adams Family

Not the TV Adams Family.

The John  and John Quincy Adams Family.  

Until recently, I was oblivious to the fact that there was a very nice, nearby, almost free opportunity to visit three homes that were lived in by the Adams family.  Well, that needed to be remedied and made into a field trip.

I want to share a fun tidbit with all the mom's - especially home schooling mom's - who are looking for a fun way to teach some history to their kids.  The National Park Service has the coolest programs for kids!  If you go to their website, http://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm you can find parks in  states that have a junior ranger program.  

The Adams National Historical Park has once such program.  The park service provides the kids with a booklet that asks them to find out historical information about the park and complete the pages.  Ours was about the Quincy family and their role in shaping America.  The park service even provides pencils.  If you finish your book, you are given a prize (a patch or pin).  You might as well get some pay back from your tax dollars!

The kids were free and I only had to pay $5 to to taken from home to home in a trolly, where we were given a guided tour of each.  Sweet!!

First we viewed a 26 min. movie at the visitor center while we waited for the trolly.  It gave a good overview of the family history.  

Once we had some facts, we were ready to work on our books while we waited for our turn to tour.  There was a nice gift shop and a few chairs and tables for us to use.

Jake is all about prizes which motivated him to get started.
Zoey and Kate just generally enjoy school work.
The older kids had a harder version of the book to complete.
Jordan meticulously worked on his.
The inside of the books were nicely done.
They worked hard until it was time for the trolly.  It was fun work because it is kind of like a treasure hunt finding all the answers and helping each other.
First Trolly ride!
My heart babies having a great time!
Jordan continues to work on his book while the others just enjoy the ride. { Smile.}
Even Jake was still attempting to fill in some blanks.  Can't miss out on a prize!
First stop were two houses.  One was the birth place of John Adams and the other, John Quincy Adams.  They are only 75 feet apart and sit on their original foundations (the upper parts of the homes have been rebuilt so are not original).  This home was the birthplace of John Adams.
This one was the birthplace of John Quincy Adams and was so close to the street that I couldn't get back far enough to get a shot of the entire house.  No photographs were allowed inside either home.  
The third and final home was the home that John and Abigail moved into after coming home from years of service abroad.  It was built on 75 acres and was only a mile from their original farm house.
There were beautiful gardens around the house.  To the left, is a fabulous library separate from the house.
Meeting our guide as she took us into the Stone Library.  I wish I could have taken pictures inside.  It was an amazing two story room with an incredible number of books.
Chloe had a few blank spaces in her book so she was anxious to complete it and  get her questions answered by one of the park rangers.  The other kids also gathered round to get answers.  Jake clearly has lost interest.
One of the beautiful gates in front of the house.
A nice park ranger offered to take our picture while we waited for the trolly to come and take us back to the visitor center.  They seemed rather fascinated with our large group.  
When we arrived back, the Park Ranger checked all their books, gave them plastic park ranger badges and had a swearing in ceremony so that they could become junior park rangers.   So cute!
It was a very enjoyable afternoon that gave the kids an opportunity for some hands-on history learning.  I highly recommend looking in your state for parks that offer the junior ranger program.