Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sesame Street to Gettysburg

Although the girls had been studying extensively for this and they did enjoy the experience, this last stop was absolutely for me and Matt.

It's a rare thing for us, this ability to do something that we adults want to do, and I'm cherishing the girls' new maturity that's allowing it for us. It's been a LONG time since a kid of mine threw a fit in the modern art museum (although that experience was so traumatic that we have perhaps never been to a modern art museum since). And so, on the last day of our trip, after hotel breakfast and Willow's chess class (you've got to love online classes for vacationing without learning loss!) we drove to Gettysburg, just because Matt and I really, really wanted to see it:

Gettysburg is actually a great place to visit with kids--it's outdoors, so they can do a lot of running around; you pretty much have to drive to the different sites, so they can get a break with air conditioning and a book fairly often; and the monuments are large-scale and eminently climbable:

The first thing that we did was run into the Visitor's Center just to buy a self-guided audio car tour and Guide to Gettysburg Battlefield Monuments: Find Every Monument and Tablet in the Park, and then we spent the next few hours following the tour (which was incredible--tons of context, detailed explanation of what you were looking at everywhere you went, thrilling storytelling with sound effects. It completely made our trip):
The kids LOVED the artillery.
Thanks to Killer Angels, I have a huge soft spot for Buford and Reynolds, and so McPherson Ridge, the first engagement in the battle, was my favorite stop:

I was super sad about Reynolds dying.
Fortunately, the girls love audiobooks, so the audio car tour was the perfect way to see the battlefield: we'd listen to the stories, listen to the orientation at our stop, get out and run around and see stuff, and then climb back into the car to listen to more stories.

Sydney's favorite stop was Oak Ridge; she listened with bated breath to the audio tour's description of brave Sallie, the pet dog of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, and when she learned that there was actually a monument to Sallie on Oak Ridge, I handed her our book of battlefield monuments and told her that we'd stop at it if she could find it, so she did!

Willow really liked best climbing the huge fire tower that allows you to overlook the locations of the second day of fighting. Seriously, there were So. Many. Stairs, but I have really committed myself to a healthier body, and repeating to myself all the way, "This is good, healthy activity!" I climbed those damn stairs (something that I actually don't think I could have done three months, 14 pounds, and four inches ago), and the view from the top...

Was excellent:

Even though my home state was on the wrong side of the war, I did manage a shout-out:

Some of my peeps were apparently also paying their respects there:

Again thanks to Killer Angels, Little Round Top is Matt's favorite spot in the battlefield:
Bayonets fixed, Chamberlain's brave men prepare to charge down the hill!
He has a special place in his heart for Chamberlain, whose story is pretty epic. Also, he helped hold Little Round Top against all this:

The High Water Mark of the Confederacy is also an amazing spot, and yes, my bloodthirsty little soldiers are attempting to cross the line and shoot you:

You can actually hike the fields that the Confederate soldiers charged across, right from the statue of Lee at the center of the Confederate line to the statue of Meade at the center of the Union line. We saved that for another day, however.

We did not finish memorizing the Gettysburg Address in time to recite it at the spot where Lincoln originally read it, alas, so Will read it for us, instead:

We did see the cemetery that he dedicated, at least--

--and the spot where it was read, and the memorial to it--

--so when we finally finish, we'll be able to imagine the appropriate setting for our recitation.

Again, we closed the park down. We had to blow through the museum--
Actual cannonballs fired at Ft. Sumter--very cool context for the girls, since  they've memorized that conflict.
--and zip through the gift shop before they kicked us out at the end of the day.

It had been a long day, through which we had sustained ourselves on peanut butter sandwiches, clementines, granola bars, and tortilla chips, so we celebrated this final stop on our road trip with a late afternoon visit to a restaurant named, of COURSE, General Pickett's Buffet.

It was our last charge, you could say...

The girls and I did a ton of prep work for our trip to Gettysburg. Here are our favorite resources:

Will read most of those independently--she's such an avid reader that it's an easy way to boost her contextual understanding of a topic. We all did the picture books and documentaries together, but for Lincoln, I only had the girls watch the first scene with me, the one in which Lincoln visits the battlefield and hears the soldiers reciting his Gettysburg Address.

You can also check out my Civil War Pinboard for the educational links, resources, coloring pages, memory work cards, timelines, artifact images, etc. that we used. I have a playlist on Spotify for all the music from the Civil War, which the girls LOVED listening to (awkward as it was to have Sydney suddenly bursting out with "Dixie" at random times in public places), as well as a great audio version of the Gettysburg Address that's helping with our memorization, but Spotify won't let me embed it. The good news is that you can search Spotify yourself, for something like "songs of Civil War," and find all the same as me.

1 comment:

Tina said...

That looks like an amazing place to visit. Thanks for the photos!

Great job on the stairs as well!