Not far outside the classic Texas town of Navasota, across the Brazos River, sits Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park -- the birthplace of the Texas Republic. In 1836, 59 elected delegates met to declare Texas's independence. They met in an unfinished building in the town of Washington on the morning of March 2, and without debate, unanimously declared that the people of Texas were free from Mexico.
For 10 years (1836 - 1846), Texas existed as a separate and unique nation. The Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site includes Independence Hall, Star of the Republic Museum, and Barrington Living History Farm.
This summer, we made the pleasant one-hour drive to the park with the hope that the Star of the Republic Museum would yield some interesting finds. While the museum is not large by some standards, it is well-maintained and contains many interesting artifacts from the time period. I recommend taking advantage of the entire park when you go, including the Barrington Farm -- we only toured the museum, which can easily be done in an hour or so.
If you're lucky, you may catch a special exhibit, such as Toy Time. The exhibit included life-size folk toys and focused on history, culture and science. My two spent the bulk of our time in the museum testing out and playing with all of the toys and games. It's a great hands-on way to explore and appreciate a time when no electricity or batteries were needed. One station offered several wooden "puzzles" that were nearly impossible to solve! The exhibit closed on September 30.
Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word.
After we had our fill of toys, we checked out the rest of the museum. There is an upstairs area that contains several fun items, such as clothing and furniture from the time period. Also, for fans of Chuck Norris (or Chuck Norris jokes), the museum holds one of his jackets from the old television show: Walker, Texas Ranger.
Most importantly, every Thursday in October, The Star of the Republic Museum and Barrington Living History Farm will present a program specifically for home school families. Childhood in Early Texas, is an interactive, hands-on program for the entire family. You can discover what life was like for a child in the mid-19th century, learning about childhood chores, clothes, and schools, even making some old-fashioned toys to take home. At Barrington Farm, you can experience life on an early Texas farm, complete with a stroll through the cotton field, picking a boll or two along the way.
Curriculum materials including lesson plans and activity sheets will be available on-line to help continue the learning experience at home.
Hours: 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Cost: $6/adult, $8/child
No minimum group size
Limited space available
Reservations & pre-payment required (registration for individual families only)
Call 936-878-2461, ext. 236 for reservation
For other nifty (and nearly free) things to do in the Houston area, check out our Homeschool Houston field trip review series.