Category Archives: field trips

Clara Barton Museum ~ Mega Field Trip 2018

mega field trip - clara barton museum

We heard that there was a museum about Clara Barton in Washington, D.C. We have studied Clara Barton before and so when we heard about it, we knew we had to visit. At Home Dad and Miss E headed off to the Holocaust Museum and we hiked up the hill from where we had parked. The Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office Museum was really neat and one I highly recommend.

There is a short film (under 15 minutes) that introduces Clara Barton, her work, and how the building that the museum is housed in was found.

clara barton museum entrance

The story of the building – a man who was working for the government was checking it out, trying to figure out what needed to be done to get it torn down. While on the upper floors, he noticed something strange poking out from the attic. He grabbed a ladder, got the paper and took a look, as it was clearly old. It turned out to be the first of over a thousand artifacts from the Civil War era. One of the artifacts gave away what the building had been – the offices Clara Barton and her Missing Soldier’s Office. There was no way they could tear the building down now!

And that started the work of preserving and restoring parts of the building. The third floor was restored to what it would have looked like at the time of Ms. Barton’s use of the building. There are even pieces of wall paper that they were able to locate and then replicate so the wallpaper is appropriate.

The upper floor is set up somewhat like it might have been at the time of Ms. Barton. There are documents preserved to be read, along with information describing the work she did. She spent so many years helping others from this building. There are places where you can see the original wall papers. There are photographs and original papers. There are some examples of things like socks that were precious commodities during war time.

Clara Barton is an interesting and important figure in American history so it was special to be able to visit the Missing Soldiers Office, take a look at the large pages of names that she worked from and read letters from people seeking her assistance. To know that where we were standing had made a difference in so many lives was incredible.

It is a fascinating place to visit and I am so glad we were able to visit. They operate on donations and on purchases made from their store. I was disappointed that they only had a few biographies on Ms. Barton, several of which did not look engaging for me or the girls, though they did have the biography that we studied from YWAM. I did make a purchase of one of my favorite authors and a book I didn’t have – Louisa May Alcott’s Hospital Sketches.

If you have opportunity, I do recommend visiting this museum.

Blessings,
At Home.

Air & Space Museum ~ Mega Field Trip 2018

An interest of mine since I was a child is space and flight. I have enjoyed reading about it, visiting places related to it, and dreaming about. I enjoy learning about it. That is just one of the reasons we stopped in Dayton, OH, to learn more about the Wright Brothers. Thus, one of our first Smithsonian museums to visit in Washington, D.C. was the Air and Space Museum.

It is so much fun to see all of the historic airplanes and rockets. It is interesting to read about the people who have made an impact on flight and space exploration. The artifacts are unique and really bring history to life. I know – we read and say that a lot but it is true for me.

One of the rooms at the Air and Space Museum was a hands-on room. It was so much fun to see the girls run from place to place and learn something new. From how to control an airplane to the difference in weight from planet to planet to how to design a rocket path and see if it works or fails there were so many activities for the girls to work with. We spent quite a bit of time in that room.

We also visited a travelling exhibit on the Wright Brothers. That was really neat since we had already visited their National Park museum.

In addition to all of the “don’t touch” rockets and airplanes, there was a big airliner that we could walk through. It was neat to see the inside of an airplane since the girls have only flown once in their lives and that was years ago. I don’t remember the age of that aircraft but it was fun.

Of course, my favorite parts were the lunar landing modules and rockets. Have I mentioned that I have always been fascinated by space exploration and travel? Just one reason that we turned on the Mars landing a couple of weeks ago.

While the girls will always have to put up with my museum fascination, it is a great way to do school and learning and I think we tend to learn more this way. I absolutely enjoyed this experience, including the exhibit on Amelia Earhart. (Did I share with you the book on her that was fascinating? I don’t think so. It is titled The Sound of Wings and is written by Mary S. Lovell.) The girls enjoyed themselves in spite of not wanting to. đŸ™‚ And they remembered having visited this museum six or so years ago. At least a few parts of it they remembered.

This is definitely a museum that I recommend if you can’t see all of the Smithsonian museums. And let’s face, if you don’t live in the area, who can? You always have to pick and choose. So we chose this one and I am thrilled that we did. I enjoyed it immensely.

Blessings,
At Home.

Washington D.C. monuments ~ Mega Field Trip 2018

Mega Field Trip - this stop was the National Monuments in Washington, D.C.

One of my favorite memories from my first two visits to D.C. were seeing the monuments. They are such imposing structures dedicated to important men, women, and times in our history. And they are just stunningly beautiful. For this reason, and many others, our first stop for our time in D.C. was the national monuments. We wanted to make sure the girls got to see them and the weather was a tad questionable for several of the days we were planning to be there. So, we went walking. 

It is a nice long walk from the middle of the mall area down to the Lincoln memorial, which marks the farthest memorial on the mall. We visited the Washington Monument, which was fenced off for work, first. It is neat to see this tall building up close and to take a look at the change in color where work had to be halted for a while. 

We then walked on down to the World War II Memorial, with a glimpse of the White House along the way. There was an Honor Flight from Michigan at the memorial when we arrived and it was breathtaking to see them all sitting there proudly, most in wheelchairs, visiting the memorial dedicated to them and all those comrads that were lost in the war. It was touching to see them gingerly touching the monument and taking pictures alongside the marker for their state. Knowing many of these men will not be alive much longer made this a special time and it was wonderful to be able to talk to the girls about the important role those men there that day played in our history.

Next we visited what is often called The Wall – the Vietnam Memorial. It was sobering to look at the seemingly-never-ending list of names on the wall. To know that each of those names represents a lost life for a conflict that our nation was involved in. We walked quietly along the wall, discussing with the girls what was going on with some of the folks who were doing rubbings of names or looking through the inches-thick directories trying to locate the name of someone important. We were able to talk about how so many of these were lost and the circumstances surrounding much of the conflict. 

We walked past a few of the statues that represent different people from different populations in all of the wars and read what we could about each of them. The National Park Service provides brochures that come in handy for many of these. 

We visited the Lincoln Memorial, climbing up the steps to stand at the base of his statue and imagine what an imposing man he was. We read the engraved speeches on the walls and just stood in awe of this great president. We talked about what a influence he was on America and how he truly tried to unite the states during the Civil War. His work is often underappreciated, I think, and it was great to be able to chat with the girls about President Lincoln. 

Next we walked over to the Korean Memorial. This is a harder-to-explain war for me, since I am still trying to learn more about it. I have read some lately that helped me talk to the girls a bit about it. We talked about why it is represented the way it is and we looked at the different parts – with the soldiers in rain gear trudging through plants.

While there, one of the girls hit her breaking point and I was talking with her about why we were visiting these memorials – to remember the people who gave their lives so that we can live in freedom, that other people who were around us could very likely have been the family of the men that fought the war, etc. A veteran was listening and chimed in, saying something along the lines of “Young lady, you are very special and blessed to live here. I and many other fought for this and this place represents those who couldn’t come home. It is a special place.” That made an impression on me and I think it did her, as well, because she got quiet and we just sat in the shade for a bit. Then she was ready to move on. 

We called it a day at that point, as it was really hot and getting late in the afternoon. We knew the walk was long to get over to the Jefferson Memorial and the others on that part of the tidepool. We opted to just chat with the girls about those. While I was disappointed, I knew it wasn’t wise to push that hard on our first full day in D.C. After all, we were going to be there for several more days and there was no way we could possibly see everything we wanted to. The monuments were important, though, and I am glad we chose that day to do them, hot as it was. The next few days were off and on rainy so that would have made it unpleasant to visit them. 

Blessings,
At Home.

The Great American Steam Locomotive Museum ~ Mega Field Trip

Along the way (in Ohio), we saw a sign pointing us towards a house that was part of the Underground Railroad. I was fascinated and so we followed the signs. Turned out we could only look at the front of the house but we saw additional signs that brought us to this interesting little museum. Located in the back of the gentleman’s wooden toy workshop, this was a fascinating museum.

The toy shop was named the Cambridge Wooden Toy Co. He hand made all of the toys in the shop. There were lots of them, many of which were railroad related, as Cambridge was a railroad town and the railroad was this man’s passion. We bought an old-fashioned cup and ball game, a pyramid and tee game, and a couple of other items. There was a unique sound tree, airplanes, and rocking horses. Each item was handmade and an item to be treasured. They were beautiful and well made. But, truly, the fascinating part of the stop was the museum.

There was a large model train setup that was fun to watch with several different trains running and a well-decked-out display. The gentleman told us a lot about the train display and how he set it up. Then, we moved on to the display cases. These had all sorts of interesting original pieces of railroad memorabilia. Some was from his own childhood and time with the railroads. From dining car menus to a bell and a seat from a caboose. There was a uniform, dining service pieces, and original photos. He knew each of his pieces well and shared the story behind them all.

Even with all this, there is still more. The stars of his railroad museum are the hand-carved, scale models of famous engines from history. Each engine had been created in stunning detail, with amazing attention paid to the fine points. Each of the engines are made from walnut with various other materials (metal and such) to provide the details that make the viewer speechless. 

While you are viewing each of these special engine, the gentleman takes the time to fill you in on the history of each engine and the stories behind them. He discusses how he went about choosing the plan, carrying it out, creating some of the special details, and the stories that make history come alive. They were, truly, a special sight to behold.

If you are even passing through the area around Cambridge, OH, this is a fabulous little place to stop. Know that it is in a neighborhood and the shop is just off to the side of homes. Parking is on the street or in a very small drive. But this was a fun stop that we are glad we stumbled upon.

I would share a website with you except that it is not showing up for me as a live site. A search for this company and museum will give you some directions to it, which is how we ended up actually finding it. An educational and interesting stop.

Blessings,
At Home.

Underground Railroad House ~ Mega Field Trip 2018

After a stop at a lovely hotel on our way through Ohio, we went looking for a gas station. Google maps happened to pop up that there was a house nearby that was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Of course, we went looking for it. 

While it was a fairly short stop, it was neat. The house and its ground were not open to the public but there was an historical marker out front that we stopped to read. 

These types of interesting finds are what make trips like this so fascinating and fun. We could never plan for this type of an experience and so stumbling upon these signs makes for a fun addition to road trips. (Note to self: stop more often on our normal routes!)

Blessings,
At Home.

Wright Brothers stop ~ Mega Field Trip

One of the things we wanted for this mega field trip was to not be too rushed with stops and to stop at several things along the way that caught our eye. Well, I had totally not looked ahead to see that we would be going through Dayton, Ohio, and thus could make a stop at the place where the Wright Brothers got their start. We realized it as we drove across and saw a marker for the birthplace of one of the brothers. We were unable to get to that museum – the road was out and we had no idea how to go around AND it was a day the birthplace was closed. BUT, we did note that we could go to the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park was in Dayton and we were going right through. So, we stopped.

It was quite rainy and that really interrupted the stop, as the park is in several locations and partially outdoors, but we still enjoyed ourselves. We visited the main location where the indoor museum is, as well as taking a quick peek at the bicycle shop and a stop by where their home had been located.

The museum focused on the lives of Orville and Wilbur but also Paul Laurence Dunbar, who was a writer and about the same age as the brothers. They all sort of strengthened each other and helped their own creativity grow. Working together was a boon for all of them. The museum talked about all three men and we learned a lot. There were a good number of hands-on options to help learn a bit about the way flight works. There was also a very good movie that taught us a lot about the lives of the Wright Brothers.

Printing presses, airplanes, bicycles, attempts, failures, business, and more – all of these things run through the museum and the lives of the Wright Brothers. The home life of the Wright Brothers strongly influenced their ability to move forward and to see the benefit of each failure or restart they had to make. They were persistent and many people admired that. It was a good trait for them to have.

One thing that I learned about them is just how scientific they were about their models. I knew they had tried things out in a bunch of different ways but I was fascinated to read and see how they worked on things in an extremely regimented and scientific manner – carefully observing and changing little things to see how they affected the project they were working on. Then adding up those little changes to make a working airplane.

It was truly a fascinating stop. There was a temporary exhibit there on parachutes, as well. So we spent some time learning about how parachutes work, some of the people who worked on parachutes, some of the most famous parachuters, and a bit more. There were some interesting hands-on activities to help them think about concepts necessary to a successful launch and use of a parachute.

We did not go out to the airstrip where the Wright Brothers did their test runs because the rain was getting heavier. I wish we could have but we had to move on. A stop for another time, right? Keep that wish list running. đŸ™‚

Blessings,
At Home.

Texas Bucket List – Z: zoos ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

Z

Z can be an interesting letter to try to find something for and there were some options but nothing that I really thought “ooh, I’d like to do that” except for zoological parks. I enjoy visiting zoos and animal habitat places. So, I thought I would just quickly mention a few that are found here in Texas. Some I have been to, though it has been a few years for a couple of them; some I have never visited but dream of visiting. Kind of all over the place, you know?

Cameron Park Zoo – I have to start with local, you know! The Cameron Park Zoo is quite fun and they have done a great job with the animal enclosures there. It is not a huge zoo and the price is not huge, either. We can go and spend a couple of hours and see just about everything. We really enjoy the orangutans and the giraffes, the aquariums (especially the Brazos River exhibit) and the birds. It is a paved walk throughout and we always enjoy our visit to the buffalo or the bears, the otters and the rhinos. The otter slide is lots of fun, though the girls are just about all too big for it. The otter slide is a clear slide the kids can slide down that goes through the water of the otter exhibit, so they feel a bit like they are playing with the otters. There are so many neat animals at the Cameron Park Zoo that we always enjoy our visits.

Fort Worth Zoo – I have not been to this one in quite a while but loved it the last time we went. Their animal habitats were very well done and the way the exhibits were was quite different. I do remember this zoo being a bit more pricey but it was a fun visit when we went.

Dallas Zoo – Again, I haven’t been in a while but it was quite the experience. The habitat areas are extremely well done and the animals are grouped somewhat by the part of the world and the habitats they live in. It was a very expensive zoo and several of the areas had additional expenses if you wanted the full experience. Still, we enjoy the zoo very much when we last went.

Houston Zoo – I have not been to this zoo and I don’t know anything about it, except what I could find on the website. So, maybe this one needs to be on my personal bucket list, right? I mean, the whole point of this ABC listing was to find new places to visit, so I’ll add this zoo.

Texas State Aquarium – This was a marvelous place to visit when we went about 3 years ago. The dolphin exhibit alone was amazing, with its underwater viewing area and up close seats for the dolphin show. There was a shark petting area for small sand sharks and you could also touch some rays. The sea turtles were amazing and there were plenty of additional animals to visit. This one is a place I want to go back to.

Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park – When we visited this aquarium with the girls years ago, it was inexpensive and just right for smaller children. The small aquariums had fish and other animals that they could easily see. For the tanks that were high for the kids, there were step stools. They had touch tanks set up for them, as well. It was a fun aquarium to visit with younger children.

Sea World San Antonio – It has been a while since we last visited Sea World and when we did, it was on homeschool day. Y’all know about this right? Our tickets were just a few dollars each and we had access to the park for about 6 hours. The rides were not open and they did not do the orca show, but I think everything else was open for viewing. The dolphins were the girls favorites. Well, maybe – the penguins were well loved, too. It was worth the long drive to visit and not have to pay hundreds of dollars. I would enjoy going back sometime. Maybe . . .

There are plenty of other zoos, aquariums, and wildlife parks in the state. These were just a few that I knew about. Abilene and Tyler both have zoos. There is a wildlife park of some sort up by McKinney. There are a couple of different wildlife safari parks. There are lots of options if you are looking for animal places to visit in Texas.

Blessings,
At Home.

abcblogging2-425x408

This is a weekly series and will be linked weekly with the Blogging Through The Alphabet co-hosts:
Amanda at Hopkins Homeschool
Kirsten at Doodle Mom
Jennifer at Worth a Bowed Head
Kimberley at Vintage Blue Suitcase
Desiree at Our Homeschool Notebook
Markie at My Life As Mrs. Cooks
Hilary at Walking Fruitfully

%d bloggers like this: