Cast Your Vote for A Kid President!

Disclosure Pic

This month’s the boy’s book club read Dan Gutman’s The Kid Who Ran for President.  It’s a hilarious take on what might happen if a kid ran for president.  Throughout the story, the main character, Judson Moon, learns the ins and outs of being a part of a national election.  His campaign manager, a fellow student, handles his publicity and teaches Moon about propaganda.


That’s the angle we decided to take for this month’s book choice.  After the usual book discussion, we talked about a few advertisement propaganda techniques commonly used by the media.  We talked about how things like bandwagon, testimonials, and glittering generalities affect the choices we make each day.

And then things got real.  The kids split into groups and nominated candidates.  They chose names, so as to remain anonymous online, and began using the propaganda techniques we’d learned to create campaign posters.  They also designed their own platforms and a short commercial.

Vote for President

They want to hold their own election – and that’s where you come in.  I’m sharing their campaign poster pictures and videos below.  We’d be honored if you’d check out their work and comment on the person you’d vote for below. Please consider the names that they chose, their platform, and their enthusiasm when you make your choice.

These are kids, though, so if you comment beyond the name of your choice, please keep it kind.

Choice A:  Victor

Vote for President

This is Victor with his campaign manager.  You can watch his campaign video here.

Choice B:  Ray Price

Vote for President

This is Ray Price with one of his opponents.  You can watch his campaign video here.

Choice C:  Justin Jay

Vote for President

This is Justin Jay.  You can watch his campaign video here.

So who has your vote?  Remember to comment with the name of your favorite candidate below by December 15th.  Thanks for helping to teach our kids about the election process!


Studying the Wild West: Building a Pioneer Wagon

Disclosure Pic

We’ve been studying Western expansion for a few months now, and the kids were fascinated by the Oregon Trail.  I mean, whole families traveling thousands of miles in a covered wagon – how could you not want to know exactly how that worked?  Because of that fascination, we decided to build our own pioneer wagon.

We started with wooden pallets donated by a local auto parts store.  My Big Helper used hammers and crow bars to pry the boards off the pallet and to pull out the nails.  We kept a bucket nearby to put the nails and scraps in and sorted the boards into nail-free piles as we removed them.

My Big Helper has used a hammer for a few projects before, but she found it difficult to remove the nails.  We spent lots of time experimenting with angles and weight to determine how to maximize the force available.  After playing around a bit, she was able to remove all of them on her own.

When we had a stack of nail-free boards, My Big Helper and My Little Man started to lay them out.  They choose which boards would be used for which part of the wagon and arranged them in the driveway.

We used the thicker, pallet-edge pieces to support the sides and middle of the wagon bottom.  The kids each took a side and nailed the boards into the supports.  While that sounds easy, it was much harder than expected.  We had some short nails that we could pound in fairly easily, but they were a little too short – we needed to use some longer nails to be sure that the wagon was sturdy.  The longer ones were too long for some of the boards, though, which is why we used both sizes.

My Little Man found those nails especially challenging.  The hammers were heavy for him to use with one hand, but who can hit a nail square on the head with two?  If he didn’t hit the head squarely, then the whole nail bent.  It became quite frustrating, but after experimenting with several hammers and practicing his swing, My Little Man was able to pound in several nails well.

Sawing the boards to the correct length with a hand saw wasn’t easy, either.  My Big Helper got very frustrated during this process – it was the first time she lost her smile.  After talking it over, she realized just how important it is to keep going even when you’re tired.  She was able to compare this to how the pioneers might have felt way back on the Oregon Trail – and then I cut the rest of the boards with my jigsaw after she measured them for me.

The kids repeated the process they used for the bottom with the sides.

Wild West

And soon it was time to assemble the undercarriage.  The kids took lots of measurements, and then we went off to Lowe’s to buy some expensive nuts and washers.

Wild West

We used a metal bar for the axle and used clamps to hold it in place.  The kids figured out how to use the nuts and spacers to hold the wheels in place.

Wild West

Since one of the bicycle tires we were using seemed a bit flat, the kids worked together to add air to the tire.

Wild West

When our metal axle wasn’t strong enough, they took the wheels apart and added PVC pipe in an attempt to make it stronger.

Wild West

Finally, it was time to sand the boards’ rough edges.  There were many, since these were older pallet boards that had spent time outside – but our power sander took care of it quickly.

The kids used another old board and a hinge to make a wagon tongue, …

Wild West

and then they tried it out.

The wagon looked great – but the axles weren’t strong enough to support the weight of the wagon.  Despite our modifications, we decided that it just wasn’t ready to pull other kids in.  The kids are determined to figure it out, though, and so work on the wagon continues.

Our efforts weren’t in vain, though.  The kids learned myriads of lessons about measurement and weight and force and angles.  They learned about levers and axles and hinges and tools. 

I taught lessons with labs about simple machines years ago when I taught in public school, and my kids learned those lessons well; but nothing can take the place of authentic, purposeful learning.  This project took days, but by the time we finished, the kids were more confident and were generating their own ideas and potential solutions to the problems we encountered.

I love homeschooling.

What projects do you do with your kids?

For more information about prairie wagons, check out these resources:


Book Clubbing in the Wild West: “Badge of Honor”

Disclosure Pic

The boys read a really exciting book this month:  Badge of Honor by Susan K. Marlow.  It’s the story of a young boy living in a mining town, when the initial Gold Rush has passed but lawlessness and hardship continue to prevail.  Full of excitement and adventure, it’s a wonderful way to learn about life in the Wild West.

True to form, we decided to see how many of those activities we could try ourselves.

Badge of Honor

At the beginning of Badge of Honor, Jem’s cousin moves in with his family.  A city boy, Nathan doesn’t know how to do any of the chores around the farm, and Jem is responsible for teaching him.  One of those chores was milking the family cow, and so we had a race to see who could milk our faux cows the fastest.  It was a lot of fun – and much harder than it looks!

Badge of Honor

Jem, the main character in the story, worked many jobs.  He did odd things around town to earn money and help his family – one of which was catching frogs for a local businessman.  We walked to a nearby pond to look for our own, but the boys had more luck tossing rocks into the water than they did finding any amphibians.

Badge of Honor

Jem and his sister find a hurt miner while out exploring, and they build a travois to help their friend back to town.  After talking about what this was, the boys split into teams to build their own. 

Badge of Honor

With the help of their pocketknives and some wild grasses, they were able to get long limbs into position, but nobody could tie the grasses quite tight enough to hold.  We discussed ideas for making them stronger –  by braiding them, by choosing the greenest ones, etc – and for other things they could use, like strips of cloth from their clothing – but we didn’t want them actually to destroy their clothing.  Having gotten as close as we could, and after seeing just how difficult that really would be, we headed home to tackle the next project.

Badge of Honor

After returning home, we tackled one more project:  frogs.  We weren’t able to catch any, but having found some frozen frog legs at a local Asian market, we decided to fry them up country-style and see if we liked them as much as those miners did.  I had previously soaked them in milk (as directed by a recipe that I found online) and then we added them to a bag of seasoned flour for coating.  The boys took turns shaking the bag, but a few of them were less than thrilled at the idea of touching ‘legs.’

Badge of Honor

The boys gathered around my grill and watched intently as they cooked.  A few couldn’t wait to try them, while others wanted no part of them.  One, an avid hunter, claimed that it looked like “frog legs and a butt,” and the others agreed – while laughing heartily.  Still, all but one tasted them, and I was left with no meat at the end.

Badge of Honor

My Little Man was quick to try them, which surprised me because he’s not always an adventurous eater.  Like the other boys, he announced that it tasted like wild, buttery chicken.  I don’t think we made any converts to frog leg meat that day, but we definitely had an adventure worthy of Jem and the Badge of Honor.

What are your kids reading right now?

Shared at:  Mommynificent

Book Clubbing on the Orphan Train: “A Family Apart”

Disclosure Pic

This month’s girls’ book club selection was one I’ve had for years:  about twenty years, in fact.  We read A Family Apart by Joan Lowry Nixon, the first in the Orphan Train Adventure series.

The story opens in New York City with an Irish family whose father has died.  Ma is trying hard to keep everyone fed and clothed, but when one of the boys makes a poor choice, she gives them all to Reverend Brace-Loring, who sends them west on the Orphan Train for new homes and better lives.  A Family Apart is about the adventures of Frances, the oldest sister in the family, as she struggles to adjust to life on a Midwestern farm.

Book Club

Frances encounters an abundance of food not found in her New York tenement, and so we baked one of those dishes:  an apple pie.  We used Grandma’s recipe and made it just as she taught me – which is how her grandma taught her.  Counting back all those years, that puts this recipe originating at about the same time as when Frances enjoyed it!

None of the girls had ever peeled an apple before, so that was our first adventure.  It took some practice to get it right, but they soon conquered the piles of apples we needed.

After mixing up the crust, they took turns rolling it out and assembling the pies.

Book Club

Doesn’t it look yummy?

Book Club

Next we went outside to write letters to Frances’ Ma.  Throughout the book, Frances is angry with her mother for ending her west, and the theme of sacrifice is discussed from many angles.  The girls pretended to be Frances at the end of the story, when she has gained some understanding of this difficult concept, and wrote to Ma to explain.

Book Club

Frances had a lot going on in the story, though, and missing her mother didn’t top the list.  She had to learn how to live on the frontier, and for a city girl, that was difficult.  One of her new chores was to milk the family cow. 

Book Club

The girls practiced on these gloves.  They raced to see who could milk their ‘gloves’ fastest.

Book Club

Then, since one of the early chores was to then carry the milk, the girls grabbed the handles of their ‘pails’ and ran it around the yard, trying not to spill any of their milk.

Book Club

We also talked about the Pony Express and how it worked.  To simulate that, the girls donned messenger bags, straddled bamboo poles, and formed teams to compete in a relay race, Pony Express style.

Book Club

By the time they had done all of that, the pies were out of the oven and ready to eat. 

Book Club

It didn’t last long, though – the girls devoured that pie!

Book Club

We had lots of fun celebrating A Family Apart.  There are many more threads to tug if you choose to read this book.  I’d love to hear what you choose to do!

Book Clubbing and STEMing with Mr. Lemoncello

Disclosure Pic

Our book club year has started off with a bang – with Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics!  We combined the boys’ and girls’ clubs to interact with this fun Chris Grabenstein bestseller.

Chris Grabenstein

We started out by summarizing the book and then discussing the choices made by the characters.  After that, we split up into teams of four like in the book.  Each team worked together to choose a name and logo, which we then pinned to the back of each teammate’s shirt like the tag on a marathon runner.


Next, the teams worked together to solve the first STEM challenge.  I asked them to build something to solve a problem similar to what Mr. Lemoncello tasks the teams with in the book.


The teams were really creative with this project.

The challenges continued after that.  We played several games, including the First Lines game, just like in the story.  The worked together in teams to complete more STEM challenges and a few other literary ones, too.

The final set of challenges involve water balloons, and the kids loved these! 


The challenges don’t have to be done with water balloons, but with temperatures soaring into the ’90s and 12 bouncy kids, we all enjoyed the opportunity to learn with cool water.


These six challenges are based on literary skill and STEM challenges, and you can challenge your students in these same ways.  These challenges are for sale in one packet in my Teachers Pay Teachers store for only $4.    The packet includes printable medals for the winners, a sample schedule, directions for each challenge, and the materials for the First Lines game.

Who will be your Library Lover winner?

Do you still need a copy of the book?  Get yours here!



NEW! Literacy & STEM Challenges for “Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics”

Disclosure Pic

You might have noticed that we’re big fans of Chris Grabenstein’s Lemoncello books around here.  That’s because they’re chalk-ful of learning opportunities.  There are so many ways that you can learn with these books – and that’s why I’ve written another series of lesson plans for Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics.

Chris Grabenstein 

These lessons are different from any of the others I’ve written: instead of being a series of multidisciplinary research projects, these are all literacy- and STEM-related.  Each project can be carried out multiple ways to best fit the learning style of your students the and space available. 

These projects will test your students creativity and ability to work together.  They will be challenged to solve puzzles, name books, and build contraptions to solve problems.  Each project is directly related to one of Lemoncello’s Olympic tests for his heroes, and the packet includes printable medals that you can copy to distribute to your students.

These projects are perfect for public-schoolers and homeschoolers alike.  They would work beautifully for a book club or for literature circles.  They provide a way to celebrate the book and check for learning while having fun.

Isn’t that the most engaging and memorable kind of lesson?

You can find this and other learning activities here.

If you haven’t read Chris Grabenstein’s books yet, start with these:


Running a Festival Booth

Disclosure Pic

My Big Helper has been a beekeeper for two years now, and she’s always learning new things.  This past weekend, she learned how to run a festival booth at Ag Day at the Green Valley Book Fair.


Manning a booth at a festival was a huge learning experience for my eleven-year-old.  She’s a social butterfly but shy when meeting new people, and because she requires think time, it’s sometimes difficult to be able to respond appropriately to off-the-cuff comments (she’s SO like me in this regard!)

When she chose to do this, I knew she had the beekeeping knowledge to make this work.  I knew we could pull together enough supplies and hands-on materials to interest passersby.  I wasn’t so sure that My Big Helper would be willing to speak openly to strangers for several hours straight.

She didn’t seem worried, and she worked really hard to prepare.  We spent lots of time discussing plans for her booth and making lists of materials to pack.  My Big Helper chose 20 pictures from her work with the bees to print as 8x10s and then wrote clear, extensive descriptions about what was happening in each one.  She assembled both into a new, white binder and designed a cover in PicMonkey.  She hoped that people would look at her pictures and study her captions, which would teach them a lot about bees.

My Big Helper designed a multiple choice, ten-question quiz that she could pass out.  She also printed a coloring sheet and copied that on the back so that her handout could appeal both to little ones and older people.

The Book Fair advertised the various booths in advance with trivia related to each one, and My Big Helper shared about how it takes twelve honeybees to pollinate a single cucumber.  With that fact floating around, she sliced cucumbers and passed them out to people passing her booth.  This gave her a piece of information that she was ready to share with everyone who walked by, and after accepting a cuke, most people stuck around for more.  My Big Helper flipped pages in her binder to illustrate information that she was sharing and helped kids try on her veil.


She spoke from people of all ages, from toddlers to the elderly.  She answered all sorts of questions off the cuff and did a fabulous job at interacting.  She helped several people who want to become beekeepers and answered questions with barely a break for hours.

By the time she was finished, her only complaint was that her “cheeks hurt” from smiling so much.

I think that a few things helped to make My Big Helper’s booth a success:  having food to pass out enticed people to come over; having pictures and gear to touch and interact with kept people engaged; and having business cards and printables to take away kept information in their hands even after they left.  My Big Helper’s enthusiasm and newfound ability to converse with all sorts of people was also a big bonues.  That’s not to say there weren’t moments when it was obvious that she’s a kid, but this Mommy is super happy with how she handled herself that day.

As a homeschool teacher, I watched my student learn many things through this experience:  she worked on her writing, public speaking, and beekeeping knowledge.  She considered other points of view and had to be able to summarize information.  She needed to put information in terms that non-beekeepers could understand.

Manning a booth might seem like an adult thing to do, but with proper supervision, kids can do big things.  This Big Helper manned her first real festival booth this weekend – and it couldn’t have been a better experience.

What big thing do your kids want to try? 

For more information about kids doing big things, check out these resources:

Meeting “Lemoncello” Author Chris Grabenstein

Disclosure Pic

Recently My Little Man and I traveled to a nearby city to meet New York Times’ Best-selling author Chris Grabenstein.  It was everything I ever thought meeting a famous author could be.

When I was a little girl I wanted to be a writer.  I used to sit at my desk with stacks of paper and all the office supplies I could find gathered around me, trying to be the next Carolyn Keene.  I’d still like to write an exciting book someday, but for now, lately, I’ve really wanted to meet my favorite authors.

Chris Grabenstein

We live near Raleigh, Greensboro, and Charlotte, and big names often come to those areas – but somehow it’s never worked for us, so I was super excited to head out to meet the author of the “Mr. Lemoncello” series and “The Island of Dr. Libris,” Chris Grabenstein.

The signing was held at Barnes and Noble, and while I knew that they were experts in this sort of thing, we weren’t.  We didn’t want to miss out, so we headed over there several hours before it was slated to begin.

Chris Grabenstein

We found the signing spot and hunkered down to wait, hoping we would end up with good seats.

Chris Grabenstein

Since we were there for so long before hand, we took turns wandering the store and admiring the fun displays set up for the event.

Chris Grabenstein

Grabenstein has a series out for middle-grade readers that I really want to read, but alas, B & N didn’t have any copies that night.  🙁

One might worry that such a popular author would be stuck-up or snobby, but we found the exact opposite to be true with Chris Grabenstein.  He arrived quite early and talked through set-up with the B & N employees, and promptly came over to greet My Little Man, talking with him even though it was hours before he was ‘on.’  While the B & N crew were obviously trying to make sure they had met his every need, escorting him around the store and offering him refreshments from their Starbucks Café, Grabenstein gravitated right back to the event scene and continued to talk with his readers.  He repeatedly asked if it was time to start, continually engaging with fans, when he could have stayed out of sight and done his own thing.  I was most impressed with his kindness and attention to the kids.

Chris Grabenstein

Finally it was time to begin.  Grabenstein shared some exciting news about upcoming stories, recent releases, and awards that some of his books have gotten.

Chris Grabenstein

Then he read a selection from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics.  He is an amazing actor!  His voice, inflections, and eyebrow wiggles totally put new spins on the story – even though I’ve read it over and over again.  He chose a hilarious scene to read and had everyone in stitches.

After playing a quiz game, passing out prizes, and answering myriads of questions about the life of a writer, upcoming projects, and Fred (his dog), his stage time ended.

Chris Grabenstein

We quickly lined up for autographs and pictures.  Grabenstein was kind and talked to each person, posing for pictures when asked and generally making each person feel important.

Chris Grabenstein

Even My Little Man, who loves Mr. Grabenstein’s books but is extremely shy when meeting new adults, warmed up quickly.  He hopped right up for this picture and talked more than he typically does about the whole encounter.

Chris Grabenstein’s books are hilarious and exciting for kids, but they’re also well-written and chock-full of opportunities for learning.  I love when we can have a blast learning about something new.  Because we think his books are so wonderful – and with Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library ranking on the NYT’s bestseller’s list for 88+ weeks, I’m not the only one – I’m writing unit studies to accompany each one.  Two are currently available, and your kids will love designing their own car, making Mr. Lemoncello’s birthday cake, and much more.  Click on the pictures below to purchase the books or my accompanying unit studies.

Have you ever met a big-name author?  Who?

Lemoncello Cover


Writing History at Epic Patriot Camp

Living History

Last week my kids experienced the most amazing camp ever.  It was Epic Patriot Camp, sponsored by the National Park Service, held at the Abingdon Muster Grounds, and taught, in part, by the wonderful author Jenny L. Cote.

Living History

For six hours each day, the lived the Revolutionary Battle of King’s Mountain.  Over the course of the week, they were given a real person who participated in some way at the Battle.  They researched this person and wrote his/her story – while wearing period clothing and receiving technical writing lessons from Cote herself.

It wasn’t just costumes and quills, though – the National Park Service went all out.  The week was full of hands-on lessons about colonial life.  The kids did weapons drills with wooden muskets and watched a reenactor shoot a real one, and then they made musket balls and powder cartridges.  They hiked around the Grounds and examined the native plants, learning about herbal remedies and properties of many of them.  They learned how to write with a quill pen and ink and used wax and seals to mark their journals.  Each day, they continued to research their historical people, add to their stories, and conference with Cote herself.

Living History

The final day was huge, though.  The campers stayed the night at the grounds and slept in colonial-style canvas tents!  They helped to cook their dinner over the campfire, washed dishes, played graces, and spent time around the fire.  The Little Man in the picture above?  The picture doesn’t do him justice.  He was incredibly mud-spattered and stinky when I picked him up – but he couldn’t stop smiling.

The next morning we were treated to a special tea and ceremony.  The kids had the chance to show off what they had learned by sharing parts of their stories.

Living History

They also performed a reenactment of the Battle of King’s Mountain for us.  They really got into it!

Living History

I was impressed each day with the tight, well-planned lessons planned by Cote and the leaders from the NPS.  I loved the hands-on activities and the enthusiasm which I saw pouring out of my kids – but there was one aspect I didn’t expect:  homework.

As homeschoolers, we don’t encounter homework very often.  We’re typically done with our schoolwork long before dinnertime – and so we had planned some fun outings for our evenings away.

Those didn’t go quite as expected, partly because there was homework.  Extra credit assignments, really, that weren’t required, but the kids were adamant that they do them.  They wanted to know more than what they were learning at camp.  They wanted to do their very best for Jenny L. Cote – and they wanted to win her prize.

The kids excitedly shared after their first day at camp that Cote would be watching for the most epic story to be written that week and that the writer of that very story would make an appearance as an animal character in her next book.

As big fans of Cote’s work, that’s all it took: we adjusted our evening outings to accommodate (several hours of) extra credit work each night.  As crazy as it sounds – because who gets excited about homework in the summertime? – the kids couldn’t wait to settle in at the kitchen table and get started each night.

At the final tea, however, we all found ourselves nervous.  There were 18 campers in attendance and many were older than my kids.  Knowing how badly they wanted to win, I was crossing my fingers for them both, but realistically speaking, I knew that the camp was full of smart, talented writers. 

The campers turned out to be so smart and talented that Cote created many more awards than just her original one.  I loved hearing the descriptions of what the campers had done throughout the week to earn these honors.

In the end, however, Cote announced that My Big Helper had won the chance to be an animal in her next book – and we were so shocked that neither of us were certain whose name she called!  (Turns out we each asked other people when the ceremony was over.)

My Big Helper is looking forward to that future day when she’s found in the pages of a Cote book, but she didn’t learn only about writing.  Writing was a big part of it – she came home with pages of notes and techniques, her mind full of stories and examples Cote told during the lessons.

Both kids came home with so much more, though.  They’re more confident writers.  They’re more enthusiastic about writing than ever before, but they’ve also fallen deeper in love with history.  They’re able to put themselves into the story and see the events from multiple perspectives.  They’re able to see each scene with all their senses, describing in detail how it might smell and feel and taste to be there.  They’re full of stories of Patriots and Loyalists of whom I had never heard and know how they’re interconnected.  They know how they changed history and know how to do the research to find out more.  Better yet, they know how to analyze it to see what it all means.  They even met other kids from Tennessee, New Jersey, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Missouri – because that’s how far other people traveled to attend.

When I discovered this camp on Cote’s website, I never imagined anything this amazing – and that’s saying something; I know I’m a pretty tough critic of lesson plans and teaching.  I expected some writing excitement and fun history projects, but Epic Patriot Camp truly lived up to its name.  With tight lessons, generous supplies, kind and enthusiastic teachers, and the encouragement to take their projects as far and as hard as they wanted, Epic Patriot Camp is the best experience we’ve had in years.

The NPS’s Camp Leader, Katherine Lynne, is sure that Epic Patriot Camp will return next year, possibly to some new locations.  I’d encourage you to watch for the announcement that registration is open and to sign your kids up if it’s at all possible for you to get there.  It’s well worth the effort.

*I shared only pictures that I personally took, but there are many more fabulous pictures available on Jenny L. Cote’s Facebook page.  Scroll down to find her Epic Patriot Camp 2016 posts and check them out.

Touring the National Civil War Museum

Did you know that there’s a National Civil War Museum?  I didn’t – or that it was located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, oddly enough – at least, I didn’t until my grandmother told me.

Civil War

She’s always pointing us toward fantastic field trip sites, and so we knew this would be a great one.

Civil War

I was impressed right off by the building.  After getting off the highway, MapQuest directed me through several older neighborhoods, so I was surprised to reach the summit of a hill and find this beautiful brick building awaiting us.  The museum looked official, yet inviting, and we couldn’t wait to get inside.

Civil War

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the National Civil War Museum was a surprise from the very beginning.  You begin at the very top, where videos explain how the war’s start affected people in all parts of American society.  There are artifacts and slave posters and vignettes set up to show how slaves were treated.

My Little Man was enthralled when he first saw this battlefield diorama.  He circled it over and over, examining the troop positions from all sides.

Civil War

One aspect of this museum that really stood out was its non-bias.  There were both Southern and Northern points-of-view, and both were equally represented.  That was clear throughout the museum, and my kids were excited to see it true at this musical display, as well.  They stood and listened for a long time, until they had heard every single song at least once.  There were songs popular with politicians, battle songs, slave songs, dancing songs, etc. – three in each category.  Many I’d never heard of before, and both kids were thrilled to hear the wide range of music.

Civil War

Another unexpected plus to the museum is the authenticity of the historical displays.  I’m not sure why, but I wasn’t expecting to see so many real artifacts on display throughout the museum.  There were clothing worn in battle by famous generals, like the glove above, as well as bullets, slave collars, uniforms, medical instruments, and much more.

There were two aspects of the war that we had hoped to see in exhibits that were missing:  the role of women in the war and something about the Monitor and the Merrimac.  We had studied both, but while there was a simple, small display about women, no specific names were even mentioned.  Given that there were several famous spies, in addition to the role that women played in keeping the home fires burning while their men were at war, as well as new places in nursing and volunteer positions, we had hoped to learn new information here.  Also, the iron-clad ships were mentioned in another display but not these two famous ones, and we thought they warranted a larger mention somewhere.

Civil War

When we left the museum, we headed outside to the porch.  The museum overlooks the original site of Camp Curtain, where hundreds of thousands of soldiers were trained during the Civil War, and now the museum looks out over the city of Harrisburg (although you see little of the actual downtown area here).  The views are pretty, but the National Civil War Museum itself is a treasure trove of interactive historical information just waiting to be discovered.

It’s well worth the trip.

How will you bring life to war studies?