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walk this way into the past

There are many things that I love about life learning–one is the fact that almost everyday I (yes, I said “I”) get to learn new exciting stuff alongside my kid. Today was one of those days. Aidan and I signed up for a homeschool program at a local historical museum. The museum is the Joliet Historical Museum, and Aidan just loves the place. Despite it being a very small museum they have quite a few good educational programs on a variety of subjects such as prairie life, Native Americans, space and the solar system, Route 66 history, etc.

Today’s program was an architectural walking tour of downtown Joliet. For anyone who hasn’t been to Joliet, the downtown area is rich in architectural designs and history, and I was excited to learn more about it. We learned about Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett and their contributions to the 1893’s World’s Columbian Exposition, the 1909 Plan of Chicago, and the 1921 Plan of Joliet. After learning about the two architects we explored various architecture found in the city of Joliet, starting with the examination of the museum itself, which used to be an old church (built in 1909) until 2002 when it was renovated into the now existing historical museum. We then moved on to a walking tour of a number of buildings throughout the city. It was fascinating to learn about the different designs used in the various buildings (and I learned (or relearned) many architectural terms, such as neo-classical, dentils, pediments, egg & dart, etc.). And I loved really looking at the buildings; really seeing them–identifying the original structure, noting the sometimes obvious and other times almost nontransparent changes/additions that have been added. As I walked through the city I was taken back by the history of the place and the wonderment of the stories these buildings hold within their walls. It was a good day filled with fun and learning and inquiry–I guess that’s what life is all about.

this i know, fall 2009

The semester has finally come to a close, and that means there is another installment of “This I Know: Students Speaking with Conviction.” Check out the site, give a listen, and leave a comment or two.

This I Know Fall 2009

This is a project that I’ve been running for the past few years. It’s based on the national essay project “This I Believe.” Students are encouraged in my version of the project to articulate as clearly as they can a core belief of theirs–something that is essential to who they are–and to tell us how they came to this belief. We do this in the spirit of listening to one another–not to proselytize.

fur trading and storytelling at isle a la cache

I’ve been so bad about writing lately. It’s not that I don’t want to, but it’s just we’ve been so busy that I just can’t keep up with recording all the happenings. But today I am going to try! :)

Last Friday we went to a very cool homeschool event at the Isle a la Cache Museum in Romeoville. I have to admit that Friday morning as we were trying to get out of the house by 8:30am (which for anyone who knows us knows that this is extremely early for us!) I really wasn’t too excited about going–I was trying to get both [singlepic=516,300,300] Aidan starts a fire, the hard way.my guys up and going, the weather was just dreary, and I was just plain tired! But, I am so glad that we went. The program was awesome! We’ve been to many different homeschooling programs over the past year, and I have to say this was one of the better ones that we have been to. And given that this was a free four-hour program, I was so surprised that there was only one other family there (a mom with her two kids). It is pretty cool to have a museum and program nearly all to yourself!

The museum itself is a small place in one of the Will County Forest Preserves, but it has some nice hands-on stuff (including a wigwam replica). The homeschool program for the day was actually two programs in one. As we walked outside to begin the program we were transported back in time to the 1750’s where we met our two guides for the day–a French voyager and a Native American.  It was neat to have the facilitators be in character.

During the first program we learned all about fur trading during this time period from both the French voyagers’ and Native Americans’ perspectives. We learned about the metal products and the wool and cotton cloth that the voyagers would try to trade for beaver
pelts. Aidan even got to try his hand at starting a fire using both a metal hand-held starter and then rubbing two sticks together (he actually created some smoke)! The kids then got a chance to help in the bartering process. This topic of bartering was timely since [singlepic=517,300,300] Aidan hugs a tree.lately Aidan has been trying his hand at bartering with several people (however, I think it’s only Grandma who indulges him :)!

After lunch we headed over to the second program, which was on storytelling. We sat in a circle with our two guides as they told stories of their ancestors that had been passed down to them. They introduced different types of stories to us. The one that I found particularly interesting was a pictograph-type story, in which there were pictures used in an expanding spiral pattern. At first we all had to look at the pictures and go around adding to the story based on what we thought the pictures meant–it was interesting to hear what we came up with (we even introduced the idea of football to the people of the 1750’s)! Then after we tried our hand at “reading” the pictures, one of our guides then told the actual story (this version was quite different than what we came up with). After that, the kids were given a story line and they all had a chance to try their hand at coming up with a story using pictures. Aidan was given the story line of  “how beaver’s tail got flat” and it was very neat watching him come up with ideas and then drawing the pictures to depict his story.

After the program ended the three of us just walked around the trails for a bit enjoying the brisk Autumn weather. It was a good day! I can’t wait to go back.

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