My family lived, worked and schooled in a 39-foot 5th wheel for 10 months. We explored the southern and eastern states of our beautiful nation. Each month I’ll share a bit of what we learned (and how you can learn it all, too) along the way.
Road schooling is not possible or ideal for everyone, but field trips (online and in person) can take you to a new place. During your November studies, take a field trip (or virtual field trip) to Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
We visited Plimoth Plantation one drizzly morning and stepped right back in time. Plimoth Plantation’s spelling is a nod to the fact that when the separatists got here the English language didn’t have the letter ‘y.’
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Visiting Plimoth Plantation | 13 Colonies Virtual Field Trip
Every visit to Plimoth Plantation starts with a brief video shown in a nice, dark room. The girls were mesmerized by it and it gave a good overview of what we’d be experiencing that day. If you’re exploring the plantation online, the website offers detailed descriptions so your little ones get a good picture of the place and Scholastic also has a great page of Plimoth Plantation virtual field trip videos.
Real Native Americans, who are descended from the Wampanoag tribe–the ones who helped the pilgrims–work at the plantation. They talk about their ancestors, show the kids games that Wampanoag kiddos used to play, demonstrate crafts and food preparation, and just generally answer questions.
Down a trail and around a bend, actors portray actual members of the English settlement in thatch-roofed homes. From the top of the hill we saw the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and the small fields and gardens of our hosts. Visitors just walk into different houses and ask the occupants their names or how old they are or what they’re making (one lady was boiling stew; another was sewing). The actors basically take over and instead of reading plaques or staring at mannequins, our girls chatted it up with 1626 colonials. Each actor portrays an actual person who arrived on the Mayflower or one of the boats that came later to help supply and populate the settlement.
It was such a stupendous experience, even though at first both girls were a bit shy about it. I started the conversations going and by the third house, we couldn’t get our youngest to shut up. What I really enjoyed was how the actors stayed in character the entire time, complete with old English accents and references. They didn’t miss a beat when asked tough questions by children.
We left the villages and entered a building where modern-day artisans practice crafts shared by the colonials—beekeeping, pottery, and bread making. Most of what the pilgrims had by way of furniture or dishes was brought over on the Mayflower or arrived on ships later. They also learned new skills, from each other and the Wampanoag.
If you can’t make it to Plimouth Plantation, recreate the experience in your home. Borrow books and videos from your library. Explore the plantation’s website. Try your hand at making butter or do some embroidery. Join forces with another homeschool family and have a feast . . . maybe even wear costumes to represent the two groups that came together that first Thanksgiving.
The beautiful thing about kids is that they learn even when an experience is anything but Pinterest perfect. The important thing is to bring history alive for our children in a memorable way. Plimouth Plantation does that in a very powerful way. You can, too . . . even if you don’t leave your home.
Plimoth Plantation Video | First Thanksgiving
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Lisa Farrar Wellman is a freelance writer from Austin, Texas. She writes about her family’s travel adventures at www.armedonlywiththis.com.
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