Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Walk Through History at the Wade House



"Mom, what was life like a long time ago...in the 1980s???"




Young children have an amusing lack of perspective when it comes to time!

This is one of the reasons we enjoy giving our children historical immersion experiences. One of the beauties of being home educators is that we can take opportunities to visit historical sites as they come up and incorporate them into our homeschool.

On Monday, we had the chance to visit the Wade House Historic Site in Greenbush, WI with our homeschool co-op. It was not our first visit there this year, nor is it likely to be our last. My husband and I often think we were born 100 years too late, and that the pioneer life might have been more well-suited to our personalities than the modern day rat race. Our children, too, enjoy imagining what it would have been like to live "back in the old days". Our eldest told his grandmother this evening that the best thing about the Wade House was learning, "how things used to work".

It's no wonder. History come alive for children (and grown-ups!) when we focus on activity. What did people do back then? How did they cook? Travel? Earn a living? How much did things cost? What did children play at?

During our time at the Wade House, we had the chance to learn about the working man's life in mid-nineteenth century Wisconsin by visiting a saw mill and a blacksmith's shop. Asher, of course, had a million questions. He's always ready to engage anyone who will teach him something interesting.

In this picture, he is watching the sawyer demonstrate a tool called a "snitzelbaum" (I have been unable to learn the correct spelling of this German tool. If anyone can correct my spelling, please let me know!). A precursor to the vice, this tool allowed the sawyer to hold the wood in place using a foot pedal, so that he could use a saw that required two hands.

We were struck by how long it took for the blacksmith to forge a simple "S-hook"--a piece of hardware used to hang cooking pots over the fire. If it takes fifteen minutes to make one small piece of hardware, imagine the long hard days the blacksmiths of old must have worked to make larger and more complicated tools!


The Children were fascinated by how the bellows made the fire burn higher and hotter...
...how the blacksmith's hammer and anvil shaped the red-hot metal this way and that...
...and how he carefully curled the hook around the end of the anvil to form the "S" shape.
When the piece was completed, it received a water bath to cool it down.










S-hooks were not the only things being made at The Wade House that day. The children also had a chance to try their hand at old-fashioned candle making. Using sticks, string, and an iron pot of hot beef tallow, the children watched their candles grow thicker and stronger with every dip in the pot.


The candles needed a walk around the smokehouse before they were dry enough to be dipped into the pot again.
When the candles were done, the sticks were balanced between two chairs to allow the candles to cool and dry completely.
Children during pioneer days would have been kept quite busy with this kind of chore, but there was still time for fun! The boys had a grand time trying their hand (or should I say, feet?) at stilts.
And this game, which involved balancing a ribbon-decorated hoop between two sticks and attempting to launch the hoop into the air. I think my kids were a little young for this one...
...but they enjoyed trying anyway!
There was so much more to see, including the Carriage Museum and the Wade House itself, which was an inn for travelers as they headed north toward the big woods. We had a wonderful time, and hope to be back next weekend to see a real game of vintage baseball!

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I'm a Stay-at-Home, Christian, "crunchy" mama. I have been blessed with the calling to be a godly wife and mother. I am passionate about bringing up my children in the discipline and instruction of the LORD, through home education and discipleship. Helpmeet to my best friend and soulmate, Christopher since 1/29/2000, and mama to four little blessings, including a tiny, precious, newborn baby girl.

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Bible--Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos, Apologia Biblical World View Book 1, "Who is God and Can I Really Know Him?"
Catechism-- "Training Hearts, Teaching Minds" by Starr Meade
Phonics--Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
(Kindergarten), Year 1 Booklist (1st Grade)
Handwriting--Bible Copywork, made using Educational Fontware
Spelling-- All About Spelling Level 1 (1st grade)
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Geography and Missions-- "Hero Tales" by Dave and Neta Jackson, as well as various other missionary biographies, incorporating globe and map study
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