Back in the fall, I learned that one of my cousins would be getting married the following summer in New Jersey. Simultaneously, my husband and I were reading Washington’s Crossing by David Hackett Fisher. As we became more and more inspired by the heroic acts of this incredible man, George Washington, and the men and women of that day, we hungered to translate this incredible American history (which we did not receive in our school days) to our three children (ages 7, 5, and 9 months).
It wasn’t long before we realized this summer wedding was right near all the “action” of the Revolutionary days. My husband and I were excited that we could attend my cousin’s wedding while making a vacation out of it and educate our children about our true American history! With that idea formulated, I began planning our revolutionary unit of study.
Deciding what sights to see
To begin our itinerary, I started with how many days we had for vacation. We decided to take 9 days – two weekends with a week in between. Not long enough for me…I’d be on the road for 3 months if I could – but not without my best friend and partner along side to share the fun (and the work) this trip would entail.
With 9 days at my disposal, I began feverishly planning all the sights we could see. My favorite trip planning sight is Trip Advisor, www.tripadvisor.com. It has recommendations from others as to what to see, where to stay and where to eat. Travelers rank those attractions (hotels, restaurants, etc.) and give you tips that only those who have gone before would know. It’s a great resource! I’ve found many great places to visit I would not have known about. And likewise, I was able to save time and money by skipping attractions (I thought would be good) thanks to the numerous traveler reviews. Such good info to know before hand!
Once spending a few hours researching what I wanted my kids to see, I came up with our final itinerary. Here’s how it unfolded:
Day #1: Indianapolis, IN
Conner Prairie – 1830’s Living Village
Fishers, IN 46038
Day #2: Lancaster, PA
Driving Day…Drive from IN to Lancaster, PA – 9 hr drive
Kids to bed early for fun day tomorrow!!
Day #3: Lancaster, PA
Dutch Wonderland – Family Amusement Park
Drive to Philadelphia (1.5 hr drive)
Day #4: Philadelphia, PA
Independence Hall (Where the Constitution was signed)
See the Liberty Bell
Back to Hotel to rest
Valley Forge in the afternoon?? Perhaps a picnic dinner there? We can do a driving tour that will take about 30-60 min.
Day #5: Trenton, NJ
Washington Crossing Historic Park
Crossing the Delaware – Grave Sites
See where George Washington crossed the Delaware
Bowman’s Hill Tower – http://www.ushistory.org/washingtoncrossing/visit/bowman.htm
“A 125’ tower completed in 1931 to commemorate the American Revolution. The tower boasts a commanding view of the Delaware River and surrounding countryside.
Soldier’s Graves: Grave sites of NY Artillery Captain James Moore and many unknown soldiers of the American Revolution who died during the winter encampment of 1776-1777.”
School Lessons: http://www.eastconn.org/tah/CrossingTheDelaware.pdf
Drive to Manhattan, NY
Spend the night
Day #6: Manhattan, NY
Natural History Museum and New Jersey
American Natural History Museum – New York City
(“Homework” for the kids was to watch “Night in the Museum” while I was gone one weekend. We will then go to this museum and see all the things that were showcased in the movie…from “Easter Island Head” to the “Capuchin Monkey” to the “African Lions” and the “T-Rex”.)
Wedding Rehearsal Dinner: 6:30 pm
Day #7: NJ
Sleep in/ Relax
Wedding 4:30 pm
Day #8: Begin drive home
Day #9: Home
Because we have three kids of different ages and needs, I planned the trip with room for flexibility. There were a few pieces of the trip that were in “stone” like the hotels I reserved each night, and two events that I purchased tickets for in advance. Though I’d like to see everything, I planned more than I needed, knowing some things might get scrapped at the last minute.
I also know we’ll be back to see new things or revisit places we see this trip. So I approach this trip with flexibility and joy. The goal of our trip is to have fun as a family, create lasting memories, and learn along the way.
Educating to the “Trip”
Once the itinerary was set, I could begin organizing my lesson plans. I recently discovered “lap books” which are TONS of fun because we get at the heart of the lesson but with crafts and other kids centered learning activities. With that in mind, I found this amazing program: Time Travelers History Study Series: Revolutionary War! It is chuck full of activities for the kids that I could tailor to their grade level. We also checked out books – lots of them – from the library. We centered our study on the Liberty Bell, the Statue of Liberty, Washington Crossing the Delaware, art and architecture from that time period, our Founding Fathers, and more. There are wonderful children’s books on these topics which we would read at night before bed. Our lesson of study lasted about 3-4 weeks. I planned it so our studying time ended right before we departed for our trip. I figured the information would be fresh and exciting when we see the actual Liberty Bell or see the 12′ X 21′ painting of Washington’s Crossing by Emmanuel Leutze!
How to Draw Independence Things
Crossing the Delaware: George Washington and the Battle of Trenton
Magic TreeHouse: Washington Crossing the Delaware????
When Washington Crossed the Delaware: A winter-time story for young patriots
For Liberty: The story of the Boston Massacre
Saving the Liberty Bell
A Picnic in October (Statue of Liberty)
L is for Liberty
Songs About America: Celebrating American History
Wee Sing America
Liberty Kids: Across the Delaware
As we go, day by day, I have the children write about their activities each day. Before we left, I made journals for each child. I purchased “traveling” and “American” stickers for them to put in their journals. So when they write, they can add stickers or ticket stubs to their journals to personalize them. Then we’ll add the pictures when we get home. A perfect keep-sake for a wonderful trip!