One of the great things about homeschooling in an area rich in early American History is that many opportunities abound for academic enrichment on a variety of topics.
Case in point: if you are in the Northern New Jersey area, you might want to check out the homeschool workshops offered in Morris County. There are many programs for homeschoolers during the school year, many of a historical nature...registration is easy and inexpensive at typically $6 per student (one adult is free.)
Last week, we partook in a homeschool workshop offered at Macculloch Hall Historical Museum in Morristown. The theme was Civil War Forts and Sieges. After getting acquainted with the museum's current exhibit, "Gone for a Soldier:" Jerseymen in the Civil War, and discussing possible strategies of fort-placement deployed in this time period, we sat cross-legged in the foyer of the grand nineteenth-century mansion and proceeded to build replicas of southern Civil War forts out of Legos!
My two chose to model Fort Walker at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina (and you thought that was just a fancy vacation destination) but there were two major southern forts built there during the Civil War to protect the entrance to Port Royal Sound from Northern invasion.
After completing the models, we were able to find out more information about some of the lessor known characters that were not so lucky as to have graced the pages of our American History books. One of these characters, was the twelve-year old son of General Ulysses S. Grant, Fred Grant. At the tender age of twelve, he was allowed to accompany his father on his war campaign -- something that would certainly be unimaginable in our society today.
We created posters that listed some interesting facts about Fred Grant. In case you are looking to impress someone at a cocktail party, here are a few tidbits for your arsenal:
- Fred did not care for military food.
- Fred was allowed to leave the ship to go hunt rabbits one day. He hid behind a tree so his father would not know he was there and ended up witnessing a horrible battle.
- Fred watched the battle of Vicksburg with his family while going by boat down the river.
- Fred was inadvertently shot by a sharpshooter because he got a little too excited and wasn't paying attention.
- He survived the shooting, only to come down with typhoid. During his illness, he went from 110 lbs to 68 lbs. He lived.
We came away with several thoughts, one in particular being that twelve year olds sure have it easy these days!
For your further Civil War edification, here are a few fun words and phrases from that time period:
- Acknowledge the Corn - to admit the truth, to confess a lie (personally, I plan to use this one)
- Bellyache - complain (we use this one a lot, i.e., "Stop yer bellyachin'!")
- Big Bugs - important people (not to be confused with bed bugs, also found in the New York area)
- Housewife - sewing kit ("Don't whip out your housewife, you might hurt someone!")
- Graybacks - lice, also Southern soldiers (methinks that's an insult)
I could go on, but if you want to know more, you're going to have to hustle on down to Macculloch Hall and pick up the full list of "Words and Phrases." They will also give you a neat reading list of Civil War themed literature (fiction and non-fiction) for kids ages 7-10 and ages 11 and up.
And if you are in the area, and are so inclined, please check out Macculloch Hall's homeschool workshops for the fall 2012, they are doing some great stuff, including professional art lessons that will focus on political cartooning (just in time for the November election) and in the spring, they will lead a series of four classes that will walk through the children's classic novel, The Secret Garden, utilizing the mansions house and garden. You can't get this stuff just anywhere!
For more info or to register, call 973-538-2404, ext 10 with name, number and age of children, and provide your contact number and email address.
Disclaimer: all information above was provided by Macculloch Hall Historical Museum in Morristown, NJ on the day of our visit and is not necessarily complete. I received no monetary or in kind compensation for this article, only a warm-fuzzy-feeling for "doing good."