Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nature Study When it is Cold Outside

Locust tree with winter buds
Yesterday, it was warm (almost 50 degrees) and rainy. Today, it is quite a bit chillier. It is 26 degrees and the windchill is 16 degrees. Brrrr!!!  I am ever so glad that we finished up the outside Christmas decorations/lights yesterday!

When we got back from piano lessons, since everyone was already dressed for the cold, we took a 15 minute walk around the yard to see what we could see - even though it was cold.
Winter buds on the Locust tree

But, we were able to find signs of things to come, even though it is only early December.

There are winter buds (resting buds) on the Locust tree.  Not fully developed buds, of course, but resting buds (embryonic leaves, stems, and flowers, if the tree has them).

Sedum "cabbages"

The Sedum plants set their little tiny "cabbages" for next years growth already. Normally, we leave the plants standing all winter, but because the ones in the front bed grew so big and fell over, we went ahead and cut the ones out front down. The ones in back did not get quite so gigantic, so they will look pretty with snow piled on them.

Who am I??

For the life of me, I cannot remember what this plant is! If you know, please tell me, but the "berries" are delightful looking and will be very pretty against the snow we are supposed to get next week.

Our oak tree has not yet turned loose of all of its leaves. In fact, it did not even start dropping them until just a couple of weeks ago - just before Thanksgiving. I expect today's wind will remove most of the rest.

We also spied a winter resident in our yard (a sign that the hawk has moved on).  If you look closely, you can see Welcome Robin in the the tree there (just about in the middle behind the branches).

We have our bird feeder out for winter. Typically, we get finches, chickadees, & cardinals during the winter. I do need to start putting out water daily for them in the bird bath.

All this just to say that there are things to look at in the yard during the winter - even though things look "dead" and boring. And when snow comes, we will be out looking for bird & animal tracks.

Remember, too, since it gets dark so early, to go out and look at the stars. When it is cold out, they seem to be so much closer & brighter than normal. The winter constellations have arrived and those that show up during all seasons are in different positions than during summer.  Also, keep track of the space weather at One never knows where there might be a chance of northern lights due to solar activity (although, it has been pretty quiet the last couple of weeks. There are meteor showers to watch for (Geminids coming up on December 12th/13th) and right now, the moon & Venus can be seen together in the west well before it get completely dark!

Robert Louis Stevenson

Late lies the wintry sun a-bed,
A frosty, fiery sleepy-head;
Blinks but an hour or two; and then,
A blood-red orange, sets again.

Before the stars have left the skies,
At morning in the dark I rise;
And shivering in my nakedness,
By the cold candle, bathe and dress.

Close by the jolly fire I sit
To warm my frozen bones a bit;
Or with a reindeer-sled, explore
The colder countries round the door.

When to go out, my nurse doth wrap
Me in my comforter and cap;
The cold wind burns my face, and blows
Its frosty pepper up my nose.

Black are my steps on silver sod;
Thick blows my frosty breath abroad;
And tree and house, and hill and lake,
Are frosted like a wedding-cake.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent & Christmas 2013

I thought I should update this post for 2013 as some of the links have changed (or are dead) and we have changed up some different things for the last couple of years. Mind you, this is not a CM list of activities - just ones we have enjoyed over the years.

I just have to go buy our candles for our Advent wreath. I always seem to forget to do that each and every year. So, it is off to Hallmark tomorrow with hopes that they will have a set of tapered Advent candles, otherwise, I will buy individual little ones and work with that (which might be safer from little fingers anyway).

For myself, I am reading Ann Voscamps's The Greatest Gift: An Advent Devotional.
Print the 2013 Inductive Advent study. Print it now so you are ready for Sunday (or since I just updating this, you are ready for tomorrow & can play catch-up).

Free ebook from Knowledge Quest - Figgy Pudding, Stollen and Tamales when you sign up for their newsletter (if, like me, you already receive their newletter, just enter your current email addy - you will still get it).  Plus, you will be helping them send gifts to the needy through Gospel for Asia!

We have a Jesse Tree from HERE. When we did it, we made it simple. I printed the sheets, colored in the pictures with pencils and laminated them. Perhaps, I will print them again and have my older 2 do something a bit more formal with them.  The place I meant to buy cross-stitch patterns for the ornaments went out of business, it seems. But, there seem to be no shortage of other ideas that you can purchase out there.

We have enjoyed reading Jotham's Journey, Bartholomew's Passage, & Tabitha's Travels. We are on our 2nd reading of Tabitha's Travels for this year.

Here are a couple of freebies that are also available:
Free Nativity Lapbook for younger children
Free Christmas Symbols lapbook

Free TOS Digital Holiday Supplement - lots of great stuff here for Thanksgiving & Christmas!
You can also email to ask for their newest (?) supplement here. The information how to ask for it is on the right hand page.

Homeschool Radio Shows has an offer for The Cinnamon Bear

From the Ambleside Online page we have a list of Christmas Carols and they are available in a printable PDF format, Christmas Poetry, and a list of Christmas books to read.

That and along with making a few Christmas presents for some people, cookies, lots of Christmas themed books, a Christmas concert at church, driving around to see the lights (love the displays downtown!), some old radio shows I purchased several year ago from Homeschool Radio Shows and hopefully, some caroling, we should have a fun, Christ-centered month leading up to Christmas.

I hope some of these are of help to you as well. Feel free to share some of your favorite resources in the comments.  Have a blessed Advent.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Don't panic. Yes, it is the middle of October, not mid-December. But, if you have children performing things for Christmas at church, recitals, concerts, & the like, you have started hearing Christmas music being practiced in your home.

My oldest child had been practicing the Casting Crown version of I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day for a group at church. Sadly, that isn't going to happen now for various reasons (not because of her - ah, the accompanists life). However, the song has stuck with me and for whatever reason, it has resonated with my soul this year.

The history behind it Longfellow's poem Christmas Bells interesting and inspired by events in his life at the time. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned the words during the American Civil War (it was published in 1866).  Apparently, his son went to fight in the Civil War against his father's wishes and ended up being seriously wounded. Mr. Longfellow also lost his wife during this time period as well due to an accidental fire.

While we don't have cannons going off here in the USA (let's keep it that way - okay?), we do have much evil in the world and we are pummeled with it daily, via the media, to such an extent that we may often feel that, as Longfellow said in the poem,

"And in despair I bowed my head; 
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;

Yet, much like it says in the song My Father's World 

This is my Father's world.  
 O let me ne'er forget 
 that though the wrong seems oft so strong, 
 God is the ruler yet.  
Longfellow comes back and reiterates:

 Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
    The Wrong shall fail,
    The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.

While we won't have true Peace on Earth until Christ returns, we can look for the bits of peace and goodness out there in the world around us. We can continue to pray for peace and anxiously await his return.

So, while my daughter may not be playing the Casting Crowns version of Longfellow's poem on the piano this year, we will still be memorizing Longfellow's original poem this year as a family. I have put the words below (and they are going up on the whiteboard shortly in my house).

If you are not familiar with the Casting Crowns rendition, here is a (link) video with words of their song:

Christmas Bells
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
    And wild and sweet
    The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
    Had rolled along
    The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
    A voice, a chime,
    A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
    And with the sound
    The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
    And made forlorn
    The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
    “For hate is strong,
    And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
    The Wrong shall fail,
    The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival: Knowledge of Man - Art & Music

This summer, I had the opportunity to go to the Art Institute of Chicago with all 4 of my children, a wonderful friend & her daughter who were visiting from Australia, and another wonderful friend & her husband from Indiana. We had a wonderful time (well....except when the little ones had had enough... ;) ).. But, the best part was being able to see the paintings of the masters up close - not just a small print on the bulletin board by the dining room table. 

There was a special exhibit called Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity going on during the time of our visit. They had taken the masterpieces and recreated the clothing shown in the paintings. For my oldest, it was pure bliss. Our children participate in historical reenactments several times a year with some dear friends. Those friends also have made the clothes for them to wear and taught my oldest daughter about what makes a dress (or guys outfit as well) appropriate to their time period and what things changed as time went on. As we walked through the exhibit she went from dress to dress explaining the time periods and why. It was so fun. Then for her to see them so beautifully done on canvas was such fun for her. The outfits themselves were truly works of art.

So, with that, on to the Carnival!

This edition of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival's topic is...
Knowledge of Man: Art & Music

Find out more HERE about upcoming carnival topics & how to get yourself on the e-mail list to receive reminders and announcements so that you never miss another edition.

Submit any Charlotte Mason Education posts on any topic at any time to charlottemasonblogs (at) gmail (dot) com!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Nature study is fun, easy, & can be done anywhere!

Sometimes, I think that too many parents try to make Nature Study (ala Charlotte Mason) far too intimidating to themselves. I believe some of that intimidation is simply because the parents themselves are simply not very familiar with God's creation and have no idea what they are looking at.

When my first 2 children were born, we lived in an apartment. In the city. On a busy road. In an area of town, that by the time my 2nd child came along, I no longer felt comfortable taking walks with the children by myself anymore. So, we improvised. We were lucky to have a small balcony. Before the babies started coming, we already had planters that we hung on the railing. We just added more things up on that railing in in containers in the corner. We watched ants, bees, moths, spiders, & the occassional butterfly. We put a very small inflatable pool on the patio along with a 1"x2" plastic container of sand on that small balcony. There was not much room for me out there (seriously - it was a pretty small balcony!) and often, I actually sat on the carpet right by the door or on the bit ledge that one stepped over to get to the balcony and watched the little ones play and learn. There was a light mounted on the building right by our balcony, so it always attracted bugs - which attracted spiders. I think the most memorable thing for all of us was watching the newly hatched spiders float off on their bit of web in great bunches (no, you don't want to be outside when this happens - ack!). We found dead bugs in the pool and before I tossed them over the side, we looked at them. I got a bug id book and we learned what a few of them were. It was fun, it was very basic, but they were only 1 & 3 when we moved to a different, ground level apartment with a tiny bit of yard out in suburbia.

So, I say all that to say that yes, you can start nature study when they are old enough to toddle around. It does not have to be in depth. It does not need worksheets. It is not hard.

Fast forward a decade and I am doing this again with the other 2 children that God blessed us with. They are, for the moment, 2 & 4. 

On this lazy Saturday morning (before chores kick in), I was drinking my coffee & eating a bit of oatmeal while reading my emails, checking the Ambleside Online forum, & scrolling through facebook. My computer desk is a corner of the kitchen/dining area right by the patio window/door area. I love that I can be almost outside while I do that.  Because of that, I often see things out of the corner of my eye and can call the children over to look quickly if needed. And today, that resulted in this post on Facebook a little while ago and then turned into this post:

"CM Nature study.....from our patio window's: Today, G3 & I had the chance to watch a pair of mourning doves work their way around our patio & the flower beds. We talked about their feather colors, their spots, how they bobbed their heads back and forth as they walked. We watched them grabbing bugs & such off the ground. Well, until M3 ran over and yelled, "A BIRD!" and banged on the window, lol! But, then we got to watch 3 chipmunks being all kinds of silly on our patio, the flowerbed & the fence by the flowerbed. They were hilarious in their antics and we all had a good time watching them. And to think that we studied nature through the glass...."
Oh, in a little bit, we will will have lunch (already?!) and I will toss all 4 children outside and they will run like little wild things. But, I know, later after they have burned off some of that energy, M3 will bring me a bug of some kind (that little girl has NO fear of bugs, lol!). G3 will come tell me about some birds he has seen. M2 will go with him to see what he has found and if she knows, she will tell him what plant/bug/bird/creature that it is. If not, I will come look and see. Most times I know, but sometimes, we have to go look it up. And that is okay. Sometimes, the little ones draw a picture of what they have seen. Sometimes not. I don't push it because I want them to enjoy it. When they are older, I will encourage them to draw in their journals. Until worries.

Remember to keep it simple. It is simple when they are so young. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A visit from a Monarch! Hurray!

 Apparently, Monarch Butterflies have had a rough year and they have been few and far between in Wisconsin. 

We grow Milkweed outside our back patio door so that we have every chance to see them. We have dear friends who purposefully grow milkweed along the side of their garage for the same purpose. They even go out and watch for recently hatched caterpillars and bring them (along with leaves) into a cage for safe keeping so they can eventually cocoon and become butterflies to help the population along. 

Today, after waiting all summer long - we finally had a visitor to our milkweed patch. Each year, this is a much waited for day - because it means that we will have a chance to watch the amazing metamorphosis.

Our little friend spent about 15 minutes with us before moving on.

 It visited the newest milkweed plant along with the big, mature plants.

 It took a rest on my begonia (which is, thankfully, recovering from the few short, very hot weeks of summer and then a major drenching.).

It visited the unknown plants in my planter on the back step.

Laying eggs! Notice the abdomen curved down below the wings at the leaf!

It even obliged us by posing prettily on the top of the fence!

 A side view.

A close up. She is actually laying an egg here, but my position doesn't allow you to see it.  I will post the egg picture after my camera battery recharges!
Bye-bye butterfly! We now await the emerging of your young so we can watch them grow into full grow caterpillars, make their chrysalis (one of the most beautiful ones out there, in my opinion) and then emerge to join you.

Edited to add in the picture of the Monarch egg. It is that whitish green dot on the leaf.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The birds

We have an amazing amount of birds that visit our yard and the yards around us. We have several mature trees in our yard as do our neighbors. We see many "common place" birds, but sometimes see the more unusual as well. 

This little one is about as common as you can get - a simple House Sparrow.

Daddy bird waiting. Humans, please go away.

We have watched as they add bedding to their nest each season. They are very protective of the nest after the eggs are laid and even more so after the eggs hatch.  We often get "yelled" at by them when we are too close. The parents, if intent on feeding the babies, will either leave without feeding or wait until we are suitably far enough away for their comfort before they will feed them.  These pictures were taken from about halfway across the yard.

Mama feeding her babies.

This particular little house usually has 2-3 clutches of eggs each year with 2-3 . We can hear the little ones in the house because of its location between the upper and lower bathroom (I know, TMI, but really, that is why we are as aware of them as we are when we are inside - especially when we are potty training, lol). My clothes line is in the area where this nest is on the outside, so it give me (and the older ones who help at the line) plenty of extra observation time.

As they get bigger, they get louder. Eventually, if we are lucky, we get to see 1 fly for the first time.

3 beaks - the one on the right looks odd.
As they get bigger, it is also fun to try to figure out how many little ones there are in the nest. This clutch resulted in 3 birds. At this size, besides being hungry, they are curious and peek out to see what is going on. We have noticed that if they see or hear us nearby at this age (ie hanging clothing), they do get quiet. They still look, but are careful not to call attention to themselves.

3 beaks, but the 3rd is harder to see this time - just barely there on the upper left.
House sparrows don't have a fun call like the chick-a-dee does. It is essentially a cheep cheep sound. 

We do have cardinals, black-capped chickadees, hummingbirds, grackles, crows, the occasional red-tailed hawk, house finches, gold-finches, mourning doves, a couple kinds of woodpeckers, orioles, robins, and a couple more that I know I have forgotten. We have had an owl in the area, but I have not hear it this year.

Watching birds in your yard can be this simple. If you want to encourage various kinds of birds to visit your yard, putting out food/water for them will encourage them to visit. It may take some time for them to realize there is food there, but once 1 or 2 of them find it, the word gets around quickly. Keep in mind, while birdseed is good for some, others like fruits & nuts. I encourage you to visit a nature center or your local library to find out what birds are in your area and what they like to eat. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What is it?

I grow this in one of my flowerbeds. Most people don't. But, the flowers on it are spectacular in smell. They actually grow right by our patio door because they have such a great smell and because the plant itself has a very specific purpose in our garden. They don't need ANY special care at all. They don't get direct sunlight in our yard but they are currently around 5 ft. tall.

Because of its specific purpose, it gives us a dual benefit for nature study (and not just the little ones!). We all enjoy it.

Do you know what it is?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Nature Studies for the Littles - late spring walk around the yard

We have had some lovely warm weather and the plants finally decided they could come out to play. Then, we thought we would throw in a potential late frost or 2 at them. Poor plants - so confused.

But, we have still continued our walks (sometimes runs for the littles, lol) around the yard to see what has changed every week or so. The repeated walks are purposeful (on my part) so that they become very familiar with the “geography” of the yard without realizing it.

Yesterday was no different - except the little neighbor girl (G3's best and most favorite friend in the whole world) was over to play in our yard. She had a million different questions because she was not up to speed with our walks...and I thought G3 asked a lot of questions, heehee!  She found a bird feather and was super excited about that find.

One of our stops was at our strawberry bed.  Initially this spring, to the little ones, it did not look like it had changed much since fall (or over winter) because the leaves in the bed stayed green all winter. BUT. The last week or so, with the warmer air and spring rains, they have stood up, grown taller and most important, they have blossoms on them. LOTS of blossoms! It was fun to explain to them that when they are looking at those flowers, they are looking at the place of future strawberries and it is VERY important to leave those flowers alone. No, M3, don’t pick those unless you want M2 to cry (they are her plants). The middles look very much like tiny strawberries.  I look forward to being able to point out the differences in this plant over the coming weeks (the berries, the runners, etc.).
Did you know that irises are also called flags?? I found that out in our Handbook of Nature Study book. That certainly helps me think differently about On the Banks of Plum Creek where it talks about Laura playing amongst the flags. I knew they must have been flowers, but never searched out what kind. Hmmmm - rabbit trail!! Anyway, our irises came up very, very fast & bloomed early (for us) this year. Nothing terribly amazing about them - right? Except, we have been able to watch them poke their heads up out of the ground, then see the blossoms form. Now, the flowers are already done by the front door. I expect the ones in the picture will be gone within a week or so at the most.  But, for the older ones and I, it has been most interesting to see the volume of these flowers change over the last 3 years. We moved them from a back flower bed behind the garden where we rarely saw them to the front and near the doors (because I love irises). And then, their population exploded! The bed pictured had about 12 irises when we moved them. We have quite a few more there and in the bed by the door now, lol! 

The lilac bushes burst into bloom and the fragrance is one of my very favorites - perhaps only second to that of Lily of the Valley.  I had to go cat hunting one night (an escape who knows how to unlatch the patio screen door) and was just overwhelmed by the smell. Another day, I went out there in the rain to assess if we had a rhubarb or burdock plant (it was the later), the smell of the lilacs in the rain was simply marvelous. The massive clumps of flowers hanging off the trees are just beautiful and bring all kinds of loveliness into the house. They are just about done for the season as well (perhaps helped along by that late frost last week).

Right now, in that back flower bed, we have let the asparagus go now and it is a fun, ferny looking plant. Right now, the Phlox are in bloom and their smell is lovely as well. After the rain stops today, I will be bringing some in for vases in the house. While most people only get to enjoy them from the window of their car (they are quite prolific along the roadside), I am blessed that the original gardener of my home put them in her beds. They should be enjoyed up close to enjoy their smell.

The rose bushes are growing by leaps and bounds and are starting to think about blooming. June is coming for this one and that is when it likes to put on its floral show!  Other smaller bushes won’t bloom until later this summer and will put out independent blossoms when they get around to blooming. But beautiful just the same. I like showing the little ones how they start out so small and tiny and then open up in such a big showy way.

There is more, but this post is getting terribly long. I will include the rest of this walk with my post about the birdhouse....

Monday, April 29, 2013

The same nature walk....but new again!

"Let them once get in touch with nature and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight and habit through life." ~Charlotte Mason

One of the the things I encourage the children to do is to try and find what is different in the yard as we go around. In the spring, this is super easy to do as the plants are all new and the changes seem obvious on a 
near daily basis.

Remember these lovely flower? They were only just opening and covered with rain drops the last time I took a picture.

The daffodils are coming fact, in the 2-3 days since I took this picture, the buds are just past the leaves & far more yellow. Oddly enough, my next door neighbor's are all completely in bloom!

With the much warmer weather, comes the opening of windows & the patio door. Unfortunately, even the the screen door latched, this big beastie has figured out if he jiggles it enough, it will unlatch and he can get outside. Today, we let him stay out and roll in the dirt. He was very happy about that, nibble on fresh catnip, ate some other plant leaves that he should not have (and those with cats know what happened later, lol!), inspired the 2 year old to try same said leaves. Momma figured that one out immediately and we had a chat about not putting just any old plant in the mouth.... For some reason, G3 would not cooperate with looking at the camera & smiling, so here is his tongue.

This is where it gets complicated about what plants we can and cannot eat around the yard. The mint (even the cat mint), the parsely, basil, & chives  are just fine to eat the leaves of as one feels the mood. Other plants, not so much. Then, we have the asparagus bed showing up (those spikes have grown another 2-3 inches since this was taken a couple of days ago!). I like to eat it straight out of the bed. But, the younger 2, while knowing it is edible, have no clue how to properly harvest it.

The regular vegetable garden is not yet quite ready to plant, but we will probably start getting things in there this coming weekend. Before we put up the fencing that keeps out both the 4 legged & 2 legged critters, the children love to run around the beams. PE? Who needs PE class when they can do this? But then, we also have a very basic low balance beam that we use for fun obstacle courses in the yard.

We also looked at the pussy willows last time. Before they were just barely out and very soft and fuzzy. I love them at that stage. Here, you can see that they are "out" a whole lot more. 

A quick study in our Handbook of Nature study revealed something I had not known until now....the fuzzy parts are the flower! Seriously, I had no idea. But, my children won't go through life with that kind of cluelessness.

Here is one take just today and you can see the change that happened in just 2 days time. They are now covered with pollen
While running around looking for things, as we come up the far side of the yard, the little ones decide that a game of Hide & Go seek is in order. G3 is quite certain that he is hidden from M3.

However, in the running about near the pine tree on the left, they spied something bright blue under it. It is a beautiful (and sadly, very cold) robin's egg. We talked about what it was and that there was a baby bird inside that would not hatch out now. We were very sad about that. Such a tiny beautiful egg.

Surprisingly, G3 wanted to hold the egg, but not for long because M3 was already dashing across the yard to look at the next fun thing! That might be a good thing, because I am fairly certain there was a tuft of bunny fur in the mix below the tree...

During today's walk around the yard, we noticed the ant hills that had showed up between the bricks at the firepit and the back sidewalk. I gave both of the little ones magnifying glasses to use so they could watch these tiny ants up close. G2 spent quite a bit of time watching them. 
This is not from the nature study walk at all, and really belongs in the earlier post about Macktown. Except it doesn't totally fit there either. This is the Rock River in Rockton, IL.  It is WELL over its banks here, rather loud in places, and moving very, very swiftly.  It is actually down a couple of feet since last Thursday.

It gave us the perfect opportunity to talk about where the snow goes when it melts & where rain goes when there is too much for the ground to soak up. We also talked about the dangers of moving water and how they should never go into water like this because they would get swooshed away and we might not be able to help them.

If the weather holds tomorrow, we will go over to the local nature preserve and see what changes we notice since our last trip there in November. I wonder if the frogs are out by the pond (the pond is in the background picture of the blog).   And I know just where to look for some asparagus there...

"Children should be encouraged to watch, patiently and quietly, 
until they learn something of the habits and history of bee, ant, 
wasp, spider, hairy caterpillar, dragon-fly, and whatever of 
larger growth comes in their way.
(Vol 1, II, Out-Of-Door Life For The Children, p.57 )"

The Gathering at Macktown - Living History

About a decade or so ago, our dearest friends (pert near family!), took our oldest child with them to her first historical reenactment encampment.  She was 4 1/2. And she adored it. As her little brother got older, he joined in the fun around the same age (but was reluctant to do overnights as early as she did). G3 is of the same age and wants to day trip it. The next one they do is fairly close, so we might let him go for a day. Since his personality is so different from his older siblings, we shall see. Or, one of us will finally dress up as well and go along with. Connie & Dave know what they are getting into with him, so who knows, lol!

Connie & Dave

The persona that my children have has changed over since they started (as our friends children have grown up and moved on....and far away). Currently, they are indentured servants for our friends and are in the 1780's time period. They are French.

Dave Titter at closing ceremonies - center

So, this weekend kicked off the first reenactment of the year for the older 2 children at Macktown, a Living History Education Center in Rockton, IL. M2 went early and participated in the school day. G2 stayed behind because our church had their Men & Boys retreat and he just could not choose one. Gary drove him to Macktown after the retreat was over on Saturday afternoon & we went and picked them up about an hour before it ended.
G2 in front of The Ordinary
At some of the reenactments, M2 is an indentured servant in an "inn" - The Ordinary. She has a friend that she really clicked with last year at Trail of History in McHenry, IL that she got to work with at the inn again at Macktown (and probably at Kenosha & Trail this year). G2 is standing in front of the sign for The Ordinary (above).

G2 - center - green westcoat - closing ceremonies
G2 gets  to run around with the boys, but he also hauls wood, water, plays with knives, marches with his "gun" with the "militia" group at opening/closing ceremonies - fun stuff like that.  His favorite thing so far was getting to participate in reenacting battles at Trail of History. I think he had to die once last year (in fact, his group lost the battle!). The second time around, they were victorious, lol!

The yellow behind M2 is one of the voyageurs canoes.
When we got to Macktown, we knew we were there only an hour before closing time. That was just fine as we got to watch the closing ceremonies. Then, right away, G3 & M3 got to trade the "beaver pelt" they were issued at the gate with the voyageurs. They traded their pelt for a shiny bead. And lo & behold, big sister was there to help string the beads for the children. They were so excited to see her there! They had missed her terribly these last 5 days. After they got their cherished bead necklaces, we hiked up towards the tents where we knew we would find big brother.

Bead threading after the beaver "skin" trade
On the way, G3 was distracted by a man in a skirt that was wearing a "redcoat" & cleaning his musket. G3 immediately stated that that man in the redcoat was a bad man! We were a little shocked....until it occurred to me that he had watched several episodes of Liberty's Kids with his siblings... The Redcoats were the bad guys!! Ha!  We explained to him that the skirt was a kilt & then G3 asked a couple of questions about the musket.

Then we were off to find big brother!!  Dave & Connie presented G3 & M3 with their first wooden guns. They thought that was fabulous! M3 was not willing to give her gun to G3, much to his dismay... he wanted to have 2 to run around with (the easier to get the bad guys with, I guess).

G3 has the newly acquired weapons over his head.
We feel so privileged that our children have been able to participate in these reenactments. They have had a window to history opened for them that very few children have even the slightest thought about.  They don't just read about the history in books - they get to reenact some parts of it. Be in the battles, experience the life of indentured servants, wear funny clothes (and know when someone is quite obviously confused about the period of a certain piece of clothing, lol!).  At night, when the public is gone, they have gotten to sit in on all kinds of discussion around the campfire. They have learned a lot and I am so blessed that get this chance to help educate others at the same time.

M3 & Connie