Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Springfield Armory: Where History and Technology Intersect

This is the Arsenal. From floor to ceiling,
Like a huge organ, rise the burnished arms;
But from their silent pipes no anthem pealing
Startles the villages with strange alarms.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

A visit to the Springfield Armory in Springfield, Massachusetts during 1843 inspired Longfellow to write a poem, "The Arsenal at Springfield." I found our visit to the site to also be inspirational but not for writing poems! Instead I marveled at the ingenuity that allowed men to advance the technology of guns as well as how to manufacture them.

Today the Springfield Armory is part of the National Park Service. Its manufacturing and warehousing of weapons for our country's military ceased many years ago. Rather than producing new weapons the site is dedicated to preserving the history of guns and teaching the history to new generations.

During a short film we learned that the Springfield Armory (along with the Harper's Ferry, VA Armory) were created by President Washington with the mandate to supply American soldiers with weapons. Back then it was a simple musket. Simple in design but not simple to make. Each gun had a hand carved stock and hand forged barrel and firing mechanism. It's no wonder that men began to design quicker and more efficient ways of manufacture guns!

I could go on and on with facts that we learned during our tour but I won't. You can visit the Springfield Armory website to learn more details.

The website states that tours are given daily, however, the helpful high school student/docent who met us at the desk stated he had never seen a tour given. We asked for and received a tour, though it was more of a hands-on demonstration by one of the park rangers than a tour. 

The park ranger was very patient with my little guys, answered a lot of questions, and knew to provide tactile examples for them to feel and look at. He truly was amazing!

Along with the tour/demonstration, there is an area set up for children to try on uniforms, work puzzles, and do activities. It makes for a great photo op! Doesn't Ben look handsome in his Junior Park Ranger uniform?!

If you have children with you, be sure to ask about the Junior Ranger program. There are worksheets for children to fill out and turn in for a certificate and junior ranger badge.

I found the Springfield Armory fascinating and definitely recommend it for a field trip and vacation activity. Even if you aren't into guns, the role of the Armory in the early years of America and during the Civil War are worth learning about. It's also a fun place to practice photography!

Have you heard of the Springfield Armory before? What about the Longfellow poem?

Linked to:

Join Me at The Homeschool Post!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Revolutionary War Re-enactment at the Smith-Appleby House

Muskets firing. Cannons booming. Soldiers marching.

My sons were in boy heaven as we attended the first annual Fall Fest at the Smith-Appleby House in Smithfield, Rhode Island. The event, held in mid-September, included a Revolutionary War re-enactment battle and camp, spinning demonstrations, and recounting of little known Revolutionary War stories. All for free.

After a small donation ($4 per adult, children free), we also joined a guided tour of the Smith-Appleby House. Our guide did a wonderful job explaining the significance of the house (built BEFORE George Washington was born!) and it's contents to the children in our group. My oldest is developing an interest in history (a child after his mother's heart!) so to hear a tour guide say we were walking through history made a big impression.

Even though they liked the house, all the boys claimed the battle re-enactment as their favorite part of our day. Not surprising for boys who spend a lot of time battling each other with make-shift guns and light sabers!

Ellie on the other hand did not enjoy the sound and smoke of war, even if it was only pretend. She preferred to play the colonial children's games of tug-o-war and hoop rolling. I think the camp tents also held her interest more than the battle did.

We enjoyed our time at Smith-Appleby House and will no doubt talk about it fondly when we discuss the Revolutionary War during our home school history lessons. If you are in the area, I highly recommend checking their website for tour dates!

Have you attended a Revolutionary War battle re-enactment? If you were going to be a reenactor, would you want to be a Redcoat or Colonial solder?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Apple Pie Tradition and Recipe

I love autumn. LOVE it! The weather, the clothes, the food and the traditions. I love everything about fall!

One of my favorite traditions takes place every year in October on Columbus Day - we go apple picking with friends. That fun-filled day results in another tradition - making an apple pie with my children.

In honor of that tradition, which is just around the corner, here is the delicious recipe I use:

Apple Crumb Pie

1 or 2 (9 inch) pie shell
6 cups thinly sliced apples
3/4 cup white sugar
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp. butter (or margarine)


Preheat oven to 375*. Place sliced apples in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine white sugar, 2 Tbsp. flour, and cinnamon. Sprinkle over apples. Toss until apples are evenly coated. Spoon mixture into pie shell.

In small bowl combine 1/2 cup flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter or margarine until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle mixture over apple filling.

Choice: At this point you can cover top loosely with aluminum foil and bake in oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 25-30 minutes, until top is golden brown. This will give you a crumb topping, almost like an apple crisp.

I prefer to put another pie crust on top of the crumb topping. I just gives it an extra yumminess (and calories, but we won't speak of that.) If using the pie crust, cut 4 slits in the center. Then cover edges with aluminum foil or pie shield to keep the edges from burning. Bake according to above instructions.

Do you have a favorite autumn tradition or recipe? If so, please share it!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...