Here is mine:
So, as you can see, history has been a part of us from the beginning (so to speak). It's been there from the first date my wife and I had together, back in 1982, when we both spoke of visiting Greenfield Village and owning a home like the one the Waltons had.
And it's never left.
So why wouldn't we raise our kids in history?
But far as children and helping them enjoy the past, I've been very lucky - or maybe blessed is the correct word to use - because my four kids have always loved the subject. As I mentioned, they were raised in history and grew up appreciating it. Because we visited the open-air museums of Greenfield Village and Crossroads Village so often they almost (in a sense) lived history and even have a sort of nostalgia for it at times.
An example of this is knowing that their autumn memories consists of heading to the Fall Harvest Festival at Greenfield Village and seeing, among other things, the threshing machine at work, watch the women as they did winnowing, saw the corn-shucker, as well as witnessed the other harvest activities.
It also meant our annual visit to one of the many cider mills in our area and going apple picking. They loved this! Still do, for this tradition continues on!
of the oldest mills still in operation in Michigan is the Yates |
Cider Mill, up and running since 1863! This is one of the places
we get our cider from.
I know a couple who have children and have tried their best to raise them with the same passion for history as they themselves have. Like me, they had taken their kids to the local area historical villages like Greenfield and Crossroads and local area museums such as the Detroit Historical Museum, as well as to the great historical hotspots located outside of Michigan such as Gettysburg, Mt. Vernon, and Colonial Williamsburg.
It was unfortunate that even with going to all of these wonderful places, their kids just did not show a love for history.
We spoke about this at length one day and that's when I realized why their children were not history buffs: it was because at every step and stop there was a lecture; the kids had to listen to their parents speak to them as if they were students on a field trip.
No wonder they didn't like it very much - it was too much like a school history lesson!
Many times adults treat history with white-gloved hands, making it almost like visiting that grandma or aunt who has her furniture covered with plastic and has lots of 'don't touch' items lying about.
I believe one of the main reasons I got my kids to love this seemingly dreaded subject is that I've tried to make history fun for them - fun for them on their terms. And in this way I used a certain amount of psychology where I combined history with fun to give that positive association.
A simple answer, wouldn't you say? I mean, at the cider mill they could get cider and doughnuts, maybe a candy or caramel apple, and then play on the hay stacks or in the corn maze. By allowing fun they wanted to go back.
But there's more: I didn't lecture.
I spoke often of history, but I didn't lecture. It was more in conversation where they could relate to it on their terms.
My four kids have been going to historic places such as Greenfield Village and Crossroads Village since they were in their mother's womb. And then as babies and toddlers I would take them there on beautiful spring, summer, and fall days and we would just walk around amidst all of those wonderful 18th and 19th century structures.
As they grew beyond the toddler stage we would go and take part in some of the activities they had, including playing the old time games on the village green such as hoops, walking on stilts, and the game of graces, all being favorites.
And since it is not too far from where we live, Greenfield Village is nearly like "the old neighborhood" to them.
|See the two boys playing 'hoops' near the sidewalk? Yep - that's |
my two oldest in (I believe) 1995 at Greenfield Village's
Colonial Days event. They were only 7 and 4 at the time.
Then there were activities like candle dipping. Each of them would hand-dip their own beeswax candles and then I would hang them from the sconce in wait for Thanksgiving or Christmas to light them. How excited they would get when we would let them know it was their candles giving us the beautiful atmosphere! That's when they would get excited and couldn't wait for the following year to dip more.
|My seven year old daughter dipping candles at Greenfield when |
she was still in her single digit age...
...and while in her teens with a few friends at our house:
|The now defunct Colonial Days Festival was a fine way to |
celebrate our Nation's birth, with the pomp and circumstance of
1776! We loved it!
|My three sons during the Colonial Days Festival back in 1997. They loved wearing period clothing even then!|
Now, see my son on the left?
Here he is, taking aim, in 2016:
Of course, we can't forget riding the old steam locomotives, the carousel, the horse and carriage, and even the Model T's. And how about that steamboat (when that was still around)?
And while on these authentic period rides we did speak of travel in the old days so they would get a sense of history, but we would keep it at their age level so they could associate these historic rides with their own lives: "Remember when Laura and Mary Ingalls rode the wagon with Pa and Ma?"
We didn't lecture. We instead gave them a connection to something they liked, in some cases by way of Little House on the Prairie.
And it worked!
In between all of the fun rides we would also visit the historic houses to see up close and in person how life was lived in the 18th and 19th centuries. The presenters, many times, would engage our kids, supplementing the outdoor activities with the stories of life in the home.
All made for a well-rounded history lesson that our children enjoyed and remember fondly.
Now, do you see what we did here? There were no lectures, no straight mono-toned history lessons. Instead we interspersed things we knew they would find to be fun with history. So they, as I stated above, associated history with something enjoyable.
And because of that, they took my love of history as their own.
|Here's the father of my grandkids you see at the bottom of this |
post, a long time ago, when he was a still just a colonial kid in
breeches and tennis shoes.
(At Colonial Days at GFV)
History played such an important role in my kid's lives that they included it in their major accomplishments, such as high school graduation photos:
|Here's my son Tom in one of his 2006 high school graduation |
pictures. He just had to have a few grad pics in his Civil War
uniform, and we went around to some of the older areas in town
for him to pose.
|And my son Robert had his 2009 high school graduation
taken at the Henry Ford Museum, and posed with numerous very
cool mid-19th century artifacts to go with his clothing style.
Would you like a Lucky Strike or Pall Mall?
|My daughter loved trying on the fancy hats at the |
late 19th-century millinery shop.
|Here is my family - my wife and our four children - at Devil's |
Den in Gettysburg back in 2005. Don't we look like we're posing
for a folk rock music album cover?
|And here are our two youngest during our 2016 vacation to |
Colonial Williamsburg. My son Miles did not have colonial
clothing, but he was good with it.
My kids, all of which are now full-fledged adults, are very contemporary in every sense of the word with their ipods, smart phones, pinterest, and networking sites. But that doesn't take away their passion for the past. In fact, my daughter-in-law has asked me about taking her to Greenfield Village again. She and I have gone a few times now together and she really enjoys going.
She even joined us for a day at Civil War Remembrance!
Though she is not full of history, she does appreciate it and knows the type of family she has married into.
|My family and I at Civil War Remembrance 2013|
“Happy Valentine’s Day!!!...
Looks like Eva’s going to be a big sister-ish…(Eva is their dog)
This is not a drill!!!!
repeat, NOT A DRILL!!!!
No April fooling, here!....It’s not even April!”
Was I excited? Oh, you betcha!! My wife and I and our other three kids were beyond giddy!
In fact, after we got the news, I announced it on Facebook and wrote somewhere in the many comments I received that "I'm already getting excited about taking my grandchild to Greenfield Village!!!"
Yep, I'm that kind of grandpa. You know, doing my part in giving my grandchild a historical upbringing - being able to show him the 'good old days'!
|And I did just that!|
Here I am with my tiny grandson inside of the 1750 Daggett
House at Greenfield Village when he was nearly a year old.
Well, here is that same little boy in 2020 (on the left), along with my other younger grandson. Yes, we now have three wonderful grandkids:
|Ben with his|
|Liam Lovin' on Nonna's |
|And my granddaughter, Addy (and grandson Ben) love looking |
at my 19th century stereoscope, seeing images in the same
manner as children over a hundred years before.
Fall is cidermill and apple picking time, as it has been for centuries. It is a very traditional time of year, and we continue that age-old tradition, just as we've had for decades.
|Apple picking is a family affair, just as it has been for centuries.|
|And now includes our grandkids!|
So I have no doubt of my historical influence on my grandchildren. I believe this passion will be passed down for generations to come.
As long as we can catch and keep their interest.....
For more reading on the traditional and historical traditions of my family, check out some of these posts:
A Trip to the Cider Mill: Michigan Apples, Cider, and Raspberries
History in School Musings
How One Family Became Living Historians
My Passion for History Did Not Begin With Reenacting (or...And How Long Have YOU Been Into History?)
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