Colonial Heritage Festival: DIY Organic Homeschool Style

Wow! Look at that title. What does that even mean?

I’m glad you asked! 😉

North of us just a bit is the biggest Colonial Festival this side of the Mississippi. It happens every year during the 4th of July and it is out of this world AMAZING! There is so much to see and do. We went from about 9:30 am to 3:00 pm and we still didn’t see everything although we did get in to the children’s militia…

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colonial dancing lessons…

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a spy ring where we had to decode a secret message for Major Talmadge…

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the printing press shop…

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colonial school…

colonial chores for children…

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yarn spinning…

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candle making…

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a museum with a real Revolutionary War gun and handwritten letters from General George Washington himself, Patrick Henry, and a handwritten original of My Country, Tis of Thee by Samuel Francis Smith as well as other really interesting historical artifacts…

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and even more! We saw Benjamin Franklin, Samuel and John Adams, Sam Culper, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson…

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We even met the General himself!IMG_6773

And then there was this…

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IMG_6756It was kind of an amazing (and long) day. We had our fair share of tantrums and public melt downs, but it was WAY better than last time we went to the Colonial Festival. 

This was an amazing experience. It would have been better without the tantrums, but when one of my kids says things like, “There was just so much to see! They had so many cool things there!” then I know that at least somebody besides myself was paying attention and got something educational out of the event as well.

As it turns out, they ALL were paying attention!

The kids surprised us with a little child lead organic Colonial Festival in our play/school room on the 4th of July! I love how much these different experiences made an impression on them. If I had asked them to do this, I don’t think I would have gotten such amazing results. It is so fun to see what they come up with on their own. I told my husband, had I assigned something like this chances were about 50/50 I would have gotten mostly grumbles and half hearted attempts. But when the kids have a real interest, are self motivated, have an example and personal experiences from which to build their ideas, we get what I have decided to call organic learning.

(I think others probably call this unschooling. Did I just unschool? Did I just let my kids educate themselves? Provide the resources, show them what is out there, let them soak it in, and then create? I never thought of us as an unschooling family – and I still don’t, there is a lot of teacher/mom lead learning at our house – but maybe we have elements of unschooling as well. Organic child lead learning, at least. Just plant the seeds and let nature take it’s course.)

Take a peak! We had a table full of artifacts and a colonial woman and a soldier to teach us more about what you see before you…

and a presentation at the “Old South Church” about the Boston Tea Party (sideways – so sorry!)…

We even had a reading of the Declaration of Independence! I spared you the video. It’s rather lengthy and it took her awhile to figure out those f’s were really s’s. Darn you old style cursive Gothic script! It’s a little tricky, especially if you are a little girl who has never seen it before.

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And lastly, before I let you off the hook, here are two more treats for you!

First, have you ever read Thomas Jefferson’s first draft of the Declaration of Independence? Pres. Jefferson gets a really bad wrap for misinformation spread about him around his presumed views on slavery. He gets labelled all sorts of horrible things, which are completely unjustified. In fact, there is some sort of weird campaign to smear and slander our founders, which I really don’t understand. But misconceptions are often laid to rest when you read the actual words of these phenomenal people – not just the men, either.  In any case, take 5 minutes or so to read this first draft. Jefferson still lays out his grievances, one by one, against King George. But when he gets to the issue of slavery, boy does he have A LOT to say! Don’t try to tell my Mr. Jefferson wasn’t passionate about the rights and freedoms of the slaves brought to America. Although not all the colonist were abolitionists (obviously), the majority of our founders were, and for that I am so grateful. Our country was truly founded on just and holy principles.

Jefferson’s “Original Rough Draft” of the Declaration of Independence

And second, here is some hauntingly beautiful music for you to ponder. Our country is beautiful. And it is beautiful because of the principles and morals that created it. But if we don’t hold on to them, if we don’t live them ourselves every day, if we don’t fight for them still, our foundation can crumble. And if that happens, when we watch those fireworks on the Fourth of July, it will be more of a sad day of remembrance of what we were, what we stood for, and what we accomplished before we gave it all up for popularity, fads, and the deceptions of those who have been trying to tear America down from the very beginning. The United States, even with all it’s flaws, is an idea worth teaching and remembering. It is an idea worth emulating and encouraging. It is even an idea worth praising, upholding, and fighting for when necessary.