We are very lucky to live in an area of the United States rich in history. Now, I know that compared to Europe and Asia and Africa our history is short, but still for this side of the ocean, we do have a fair amount of history in our back yard. The Revolutionary War, the Civil War and all the things in between and after.
So when we go to pick a place to go on a field trip, our problem is not finding something to do, it is choosing what to do. I belong to a homeschool group that has a field trip database. Right now we have about 43 ideas on our list and that is by no means all the possibilities.
So today we went to visit the Old City Cemetery. This is a real treasure. You may be thinking a cemetery is not exactly a plac eyou would want to visit, but there is so much history here and so much to learn. There is a Confederate section to the cemetery. They are well known for their antique roses. They have a composting section and they have brought in buildings to preserve the history of the area. There is also a ‘Kids Haven’ area. Here you can find a swing hanging from a towering oak that kids love to swing on. It is situated on a hill, so as you go to your farthest point, you feel like you are flying off the edge of the world. Even grown-ups love to give it a whirl. There is a place to sit in the grace, read a book, enjoy a picnic and just escape from the world for awhile.
Today we first took advantage of Kids Haven, then we went on a 2 hour tour. They really pack a lot into that two hours! First we got some history of the cemetery. Information on who was buried there (it was the only cemetery in the area in the 1800s where people of color could be buried (black, American Indian, Chinese, etc). We learned about items that were left near tombstones and their significance (in Victorian times, a broken wheel might symbolize what the person did in life, but it also symbolized that the circle of life was broken). We examined cornerstones of family plots and tombstones. We even saw a tombstone that had been repaired after it had been excavated from a tree that it had grown up next to it.
Next we visited their composting site and learned how to make our own composting bins and worm bins. The kids loved holding the worms (except for my son, Jack who said he was afraid of them).
Then we headed to the frog pond where a local naturalist and employee of the local Parks and Recreation department met us and told us about Frogs. She played frog sounds for us and we tried to guess which frog we were hearing. She showed us what the different frogs and toads looked like. She had captured tadpoles from the pond for us to watch and then she let us look at a couple of her frogs and even pet one of them. While we were in this session, it began to rain. A nice spring downpour, but we were sitting under a willow and didn’t get completely wet. The kids were thrilled that it was raining on us!
Then it was off to the Pest House where we learned some about 19th century medicine and the instruments they used. The guide there showed us old medical instruments and compared them to their modern day counterparts. At this point, the older kids were still very interested, but the younger ones were ready to leave (we had children in our group ages 3-10).
Lastly, some of us went to visit the goats that live at the Old City Cemetery. They were happy to have some visitors.
You just never know what you might find at a cemetery near you. Next week, we are going with another group to the same place but for different tours. I’ll let you know how it goes!