Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Yorktown Victory Center

Yesterday we went to Yorktown Victory Center's Homeschool Day.

This was one of those field trips that was both wonderful and quite dreadful. I was rather bummed at how badly the tour guide we had massacred the material.

We started off with a two hour guided tour of the center. On the surface of it, it sounded like a great idea, however, having done it, I think it was a dreadful idea. The tour started at the model farm with the living interpreters. The parts of this portion of the tour where the living interpreters did the talking were outstanding. They knew how to pitch it at the children's level. We thoroughly enjoyed the woman who was cooking in the kitchen. The children now have a whole new appreciation of the lives of colonial women.

The tour fell apart though when the tour guide took over. He had no ability to talk to young children. Everything he said presupposed a good knowledge of revolutionary war and colonial history. I prepared my children well before we did the tour, but even so, the knowledge that he required was at an adult level.

If I were the organizer of this event, I'd have separated the groups by age groups and have had 2 much shorter tours for the young ones. Perhaps one of the farm and one of the military encampment. I'd also ensure that the guides are able to communicate with and enchant the children. Mine were not the only children in our tour who were bored to tears. Heck, the man even bored me and I was very interested in the topic.

However, it was not all a wash. The kids did get a huge amount of out the tour and loved getting close to this turkey.

They also enjoyed looking at the fruit and vegetables that were grown on colonial farms. I was surprised at how small the watermelons were.

No surprises here, but Ben's favorite part was the military encampment. He was thrilled that this "soldier" demonstrated his weapon.

As usual, the dress up part was a huge hit.

The kids were tickled by this sign. They thought it funny that they advertised that the laundry was done with soap.

After lunch we did a class on the tools people used during this time. It was very hands on and the teacher was exceptional in her ability to engage the children.

Shira got to put on pockets and an apron as if she lived in the colonial era.

They got to card wool, look at a gunpowder horn, play with colonial era toys and a host of other fun things.

All in all, I think this was worth while tour, however, I hope that the organizers make it more accessible to the younger set next time. Living museums are wonderful and can be made even more engaging when the adults who communicate with the children are passionate about transmitting their knowledge to said children.

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