Homeschool Discoveries

Sharing a few things I've discovered along the way…

A trip to the Oliver H. Kelley Historic Farm July 28, 2013

Filed under: Fun Stuff and Extras,History — kirstenjoyhill @ 10:03 pm

This past week we spent a few hours at the Oliver H. Kelley farm near Elk River, Minnesota:



Oliver H. Kelley Farm

This Minnesota Historical Society site is a working 1860s farm.  Costumed farmers dress as they would have in that time period, and crops and livestock are raised as it was done in the 19th century.  This is a great “hands on” place for kids to visit.   Visitors are encouraged to jump in and pitch hay, pull weeds, work alongside the women cooking in the kitchen, and even help in the fields or feed the animals (when the farmers give the okay).

I had heard that this historic farm was a fun field trip from friends who had visited before (and it’s only about a 45 minute drive from our house!).   What I didn’t know until our visit was that Oliver H. Kelley was a person of historical significance.  Besides being the original owner of this farm, Mr. Kelley was the founder of a farming organization called the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, or “Grange” as it is commonly known.  The Grange is a fraternal organization for farmers that is still in existence today.  Grange causes over the years have included regulation of railroads and grain warehouses, rural free mail delivery, temperance, direct election of senators and women’s suffrage.

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Hermann Heights Monument in New Ulm, MN July 10, 2013

Filed under: Fun Stuff and Extras — kirstenjoyhill @ 11:04 pm

During our holiday weekend camping trip to New Ulm, Minnesota just after July 4th, we also took some time for a bit of sight seeing.  At the top of my list of places to see in New Ulm was the Hermann Monument, affectionately referred to as “Hermann the German”.  My childhood memory of this place was that it was a really huge structure, and my memory served me well — the copper statue and base has a total height of 102 feet, and provides a great view of the surrounding region from the viewing area:

Hermann Monument

The Hermann Heights monument comemerates the role that Hermann (also known as Arminius) played in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 A.D. — a victory for Germanic tribes over the Romans.   Over the centuries Hermann became a sort of national hero, and a much larger statue of Hermann can be seen in Germany, somewhat near the site of the battle.  You can read much more about Hermann and the monuments to him on Wikipedia.

In the base of the monument there is a small interpretive center with interesting artwork and displays:

Hermann Monument Interpretive Displays

The displays were quite interesting and I learned much about Hermann that I had forgotten (or never learned) since my childhood visits to Hermann the German.

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A Visit to the Wanda Gag House July 8, 2013

Filed under: Books,Fun Stuff and Extras — kirstenjoyhill @ 11:30 pm

This past weekend we took a three day camping trip to New Ulm, Minnesota.  It’s about a two hour drive from our home in Minneapolis, and is a town I lived in for about four and a half years as a child (from about age 5.5 to age 10).  Besides a fun and relaxing time spent camping, we also did a bit of sight seeing.

Miss M and I both were very excited to visit the Wanda Gag House.  Gag is well known as the author of Millions of Cats, and we have enjoyed several of her other picture books as well.  Gag lived in New Ulm her entire childhood in this house that is now a museum. I thought perhaps the boys would not be very keen on seeing the house — but they were excited to see it too!  So, we all went in to view the house.

Wanda Gag House

This was my first visit to the Gag house as well — The house was not purchased for restoration and preservation until the year after I moved away from New Ulm. The Gag home has been restored in a number of ways to the look it would have had when Wanda and her six siblings lived there.  After many, many layers of paint and wall paper were removed, decorative painting and scrollwork done done by Wanda’s father Anton Gag were visible on the walls!

A number of works of Wanda’s art are displayed on the main floor of the house, while works of art by younger sister Flavia (who was also an author and illustrator of children’s books!), and her father Anton are on display on the 2nd floor and in the attic space.  We learned many interesting facts about Wanda and her family.  One little tidbit I found interesting — the hand lettering featured in Millions of Cats and some of Gag’s other works was not done by Wanda but by one of her younger brothers.  What a talented family!

We bought our very own copy of Wanda Gag: The Girl Who Lived to Draw to take home with us.  We greatly enjoyed this picture book biography on at least two occasions from the library.

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S is for Streetcar June 27, 2012

Filed under: Fun Stuff and Extras — kirstenjoyhill @ 7:30 am

I have been eagerly anticipating our outing to ride the Como-Harriet Streetcar for months.  I’ve wanted to do this for years, really, but I kept forgetting about it during the right time of year.   Back in January I read the book, “Twin Cities by Trolley: The Streetcar Era in Minneapolis and St. Paul.”  I loved reading about this bygone era in transportation in our city, and firmly planted in my mind the desire to go ride this historic streetcar.

We all enjoyed this fun and inexpensive family outing.  It was the perfect “after dinner” fun outing since it is less than 15 minutes from our house, and the ride is a short one (only about 15 minutes).  But the ride and the time looking around the platform and small gift shop were perfect for short attention spans.  🙂

I’m fascinated by this form of transportation that once criss-crossed our city and was completely torn out in the 1950s.  Buses were all the rage then and much less expensive to operate and maintain.  Now fast-forward fifty years and a different type of passenger rail service is making a comeback — a second “light rail” line is being installed in the Twin Cities to join the already-popular Hiawatha Line that made it’s debut several years ago.   I can’t help but wonder how transportation in our city might have looked different today if the streetcars had been improved instead of torn out…wishful thinking, I’m sure!

Visit Blogging through the Alphabet @ Ben and Me to see what other bloggers are writing about for the S (link coming on Thursday).



F is for Field Trips March 27, 2012

Filed under: Fun Stuff and Extras — kirstenjoyhill @ 9:56 pm

Field trips are one of my favorite parts of homeschooling.  As I browse back through some of our photos from the past two and a half years or so (from when Miss M started Kindergarten until now), it was so much fun to be reminded of some of the places we’ve been and the things we’ve seen:

And this doesn’t even represent all of our destinations in the past couple of years! I didn’t always bring my camera, and some trips were not conducive to pictures (like concerts and other performances).

Some destinations we visit frequently — like the Minnesota Zoo and the Minnesota Children’s Museum.  Some destinations we visited on our own (many of the museums we’ve visited), while we have also participated in group activities through our co-op and through a local mailing list that facilitates field trips and other events for homeschoolers.

Some trips have really been just for fun, like trips to an indoor play area or a special outdoor playground.   Most have been very educational! We’ve learned about history and culture at the Minnesota History Center, the Swedish Institute, the Mill City Museum and various historical sites.  We’ve learned about science at the zoo, farms visits, the Physics Force show, the planetarium and an aquarium. We’ve been exposed to arts at orchestra, ballet and theater performances as well as at art museums. We’ve learned about our community with tours of a fire station and a pizza restaurant.

Aren’t field trips wonderful? I am so glad to live in an area with so many field trip possibilities…there are many places we haven’t even seen yet!  I can’t wait to see what we learn and discover in the future!

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