Monday, May 24, 2010

Field Trip

We recently visited The Atlanta History Center  for homeschool day. The focus of the day was springtime on the Tullie Smith Farm. I had been looking forward to doing this for several years. So.... it was very exciting when it finally worked out that we could go. You see, we are complete history nuts in our family. Yes, we are passing this down joyfully to our children! We are quickly learning that museums are totally our thing. Now I must admit the twins are still in training, but considering they are only two, a few breakdowns during a missed naptime is allowable. All in all each of us had a wonderful day.

 The Tullie Smith farm is an actual 1860's farm from the Atlanta area that has been relocated to the History Center. On homeschool day they have special activities going on all over the farm to help the children experience first hand, everyday life on an 1860's farm.

During the 1860's clay was used to make items such as buttons. The children were given small clumps of clay and shown how to make beads.

Naturally, we had to drag Maggie away from this activity because she could have spent all day adding details to each and every bead! The girls also shared some clay with the twins which quickly became a messy blob.

Grant couldn't quite get the hang of rolling his little hands around to form a ball. His clay continually took on the form of a mashed bumble bee (from I'm Bringing Home a Baby Bumble Bee, one of his favorite songs). Mommy doesn't allow them to play with playdough nearly enough I suppose. I guess I should work on that one?

We also learned about dying fabric. In the 1860's they used whatever they had. We learned a common item used to dye fabric was onion skins. The girls enjoyed twisting fabric, making designs with rubber bands and dipping the fabric in different colored dyes.Gracie's favorite part of the day was learning about where all the colored dyes came from. The girls are still telling people where the color of their clothes comes from.

We also learned that still today,the Cochineal, an insect, is what is used to make red dyes. Yes, not only the red in your clothing but also in your food and cosmetics!!! That will make you reconsider that cherry limeade or that cherry red lipstick won't it?!

Here they are using powder from the Cochineal to dye yarn.

Once again they taught that during that time period nothing was wasted. As an example the children made floating candles by filling walnut shells with wax and a wick.

Maggie's most favorite activity was making candles. Here she is blowing on the hot wax preparing it to add a wick.

 I would love to go back in the fall when I believe they actually make dipped candles.

It's so hard for me to pick just one favorite. of my many favorites was definitely learning about cotton. This was such a huge part of our southern heritage I am thrilled to see my children have the opportunity to experience it first hand. They were taught how to remove the seed from the cotton, which was really tough work and oh so time consuming. This really gave an all new appreciation for Eli Whitney and his invention of the cotton gin!!!They were also taught  how to card the cotton to make batting  and then they were able to actually plant the seeds they got out of the cotton. Another very important bit of information we learned was that it is actually illegal to plant cotton in Georgia without a permit due to the Boll Weevil epidemic that occurred sometime during the 1800s and again in  the early 1900s. Fortunately, the History Center does have a permit so no children were arrested that day.

Here Gracie is so diligently working on getting out the many little seeds buried deep in the cotton.

Finally, they were able to actually plant the cotton seed. We will have to try to come back in November (I believe that is what they said) when the cotton is harvested. That would be so fun for the girls to see how their cotton seed actually grew!

Another fun activity, I've actually been wanting to learn for a long time, was weaving a rag rug. They used what is called a Friendly Loom. Friendly, because it was easy to use and very "child friendly." We are definitely going to have to get Popaw to help us make a loom so we can make rugs at home. These would make wonderful Christmas presents for those oh so special people in our lives.

They were making the rug to look like the American Flag. It is going to be a  gift for our troops. The children were asked to write messages on the white pieces of fabric that they would then weave throughout the rug. The messages, of course, could not be read in the rug, so they were asked to also write them on a piece of paper that would accompany the rug to the troops.

The last activity took place in the farms kitchen, which was of course a separate structure from the house. It was explained to the children that the kitchen was not part of the main house for several reasons, because of the possibility of fire and due to how warm the cooking fires would make the house in the summers. You see our Georgia summers can be rather hot!!!

While the girls were busy with all the different activities we, mostly Monty, keep the twins busy, or should I say the twins kept Monty busy.....

Betsie, doing what she does best, just hanging out looking cute.

Grant, exploring the farm....and boy did he explore.

Grant's favorite part of the day was most definitely the chickens!!!

He was completely fascinated. He was more still here that he was anywhere all day, and I mean really still. He loved it. Bestie joined him for a bit but she was not nearly as interested in the chickens as he was.

Betsie spent a lot of time sitting, waiting patiently on her sisters. You can obviously see here she is seriously missing her naptime.

The final part of our day visiting the Tullie Smith Farm, was an actual visit at the farm  house. We were greeted on the front porch by a lovely lady playing the part of Mrs. Smith. She explained several aspects of life in the 1860's. One thing she discussed was why she was dressed in all black. She told us this was expected dress for a woman of that period who was in mourning. There were many different acceptable guidelines for women in mourning depending on the relationship to the deceased. Socially acceptable time periods were anywhere from 1 1/2 years to honor a spouse to 6 weeks for a very distant relative.

 She also told the children  about the travelers room. This is the room you can see behind her. She explained that in the 1860's, hotels were not available to travelers like they are today. Families often built rooms onto their homes that could be entered from the outside for traveling guests. It really is sad that this is so scary to us today. Can you imagine inviting a stranger, who is just passing through, into your home for the night?

She also explained to the children the reason for the house not having a grassy yard. She told us that this was called a Swept Yard and it was very common in the 1860's. This was to protect the home from snakes and any other critters and to give the family area for doing chores such as laundry and such.

This is an example of a broom they would use to keep the yard swept.

We were then welcomed into the home where it was set up with period antiques similar to what the Smiths would have had.

It was an absolutely wonderful day. We were all a bit tired at the end of the day, but it was so worth it.This was our view in the rear view mirror before we were even out of the parking garage! So precious, dirty little faces and all. They were little troopers.

Well, I'm sure you feel like you've been there by now!!! Thanks for coming along, minus the hot, muggy weather and the Atlanta traffic, of course.

1 comment:

  1. Love the Atlanta History Center! I still want one of those friendly looms, too. Wouldn't it be lovely to have one in the living room by the fireplace on a rainy-cold fall or winter day while something delicious bakes in the oven. Ahh.... :)