Monday, January 9, 2012

Follow the Drinking Gourd

Noah and I had the chance to go on a field trip today giving us an opportunity to learn about the Underground Railroad.  As a newbie in the homeschooling world, I'm always thrilled when something new and exciting presents itself.  Especially when it's been planned out for me since most of the time I'm winging the whole teaching "thing".  Though we've been studying ancient civilizations right now, I dutifully downloaded as much internet information as I thought an eight year old brain could handle.  Last night we had a mini lesson on what the Underground Railroad was, why it was needed, lyrics to the song "Follow the Drinking Gourd" and a short biography of Harriet Tubman. We got through most of it before Noah's eyes glazed over and he started to drool.

This morning Savannah was so jealous of Noah's upcoming adventure that she actually asked to stay home from school so she could go too.  This is my child that gets angry with me if I make a dentist appointment during school hours.  At the beginning of this school year she told me in no uncertain terms that she NEVER wants to be homeschooled.  This morning she said that she thinks that she should be homeschooled next year and Noah can go back to public school.  Hmmm.

We left our house towards the nearby nature center where the field trip was being held.  While we waited to be transported back in time to the 1800's, we checked out the snakes, turtles and stuffed owls (which were quite scary if I do say so myself).  Unfortunately, we were told that no cameras or cell phone pictures were allowed which is why I don't have any cool pictures to post.

First, our group was led by the "conductor" through the woods as we were escaping toward the first safe house.  We were told that we had to travel quietly since the bounty hunters were after us.  We learned some fun facts along the way while we were looking for the "sign" of red longjohns with the flap open hanging in the front of the house.  When we arrived, we had to give the signal . . . knock three times then tell them we were a "friend with friends".  There we heard stories told of what the slaves did during the day, how they were sold away from their families, how the "spirituals" or songs they sung had hidden meanings, the hardships they endured trying to escape to freedom, that the children were expected to do an adults' work at the age of 6, and we learned about the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.  Each safe house had a different message and activity . . . painting quilt squares representing hidden messages, dressing up to try to stay hidden among the people, and hiding in secret areas of a cellar.  At one  home we were greeted by an older woman pointing a rifle at us!  She was definitely my favorite.  At the very end we all escaped to Canada, which was our destination, and were welcomed with songs of "Free at Last".

I was quite impressed!  I'm hoping Noah was too.  I'm thinking he must have gotten something from the experience since he was singing "Free at Last" most of the way home.

They will have this experience open to the public on January 28th.  I'm thinking of going back with Savannah.

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