Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Old Sturbridge Village

Old Sturbridge Village, in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, the crown-jewel in resources for the homeschooling crowd, held one of their extremely popular "Homeschool Day" events today. This mecca of historically accurate information offers a wide variety of hands-on programming and activities based on a New England village in the 1800s.

Here we are arriving for our day.

As we made our way to the educational building where the special "Studio" programs are held, we stopped to watch this team of Oxen get yolked up for a day of ploughing the fields.

The educational building was like nothing I'd ever seen before, but if I were to sit down and design exactly what I would like for a learning space, it would look pretty darned close to this. Rather than classrooms, there were tables and benches in nooks and lofts clustered around enormous stone fireplaces, giant looms and spinning wheels, antique farm and home implements, and all manner of hand-crafted goods. Enormous windows brought in abundant natural lighting, and the acoustics were such that even though there were no physical walls between class spaces, there was no noise interference from other spaces being used at the same time. This photo is of J in his "Games" studio.

Both boys participated in a "Games" session, but at different times divided by age. Here Zoo Boy demonstrates the "Buzz Saw" toy that they made in both his 5-7 yr group and J's 9-12 yr group. They also discussed and played with other period toys, and played a fun listening game where each child was assigned a word and motion to perform when they heard the word during a story the instructor read out loud.

Both boys also participated in a "Farm" studio, again divided by age. Here Zoo Boy's studio is shown the type of rake from the period.

The highlight of the farm studio was making apple cider. Zoo Boy loved working the cider press.

While J was busy in his farm studio, Zoo Boy and I strolled about the Village a bit. Here's a view across a small tributary of the Quinebaug River to the farm.

The Saw Mill.

Looking across the Village Green.

There was plenty of hands-on stuff to keep Zoo Boy occupied while we waited for J to finish up his studio. Here he creates some pseudo punched tin.

And here he tries to reassemble a broken vase, like an Archaeologist would.

Working the well pump.

The cider mill. The strong odor of crushed apple coming from within was a bit much for The Boy, so we didn't get to watch them working the mill inside, but we did find out that in the 1800s, the mill and the horse that worked it were rented out to families to make their own cider with. The family had to do all their own labor to make the cider, but it was much faster than doing it by hand with an at-home cider press.

The general store, purveyor of all sorts of authentic goods, including delicious fudge and warm cookies. (Mmmm....) We bought some to bring home to The Map Man. And most if it actually made it home to him.

It was a wonderful day! We didn't even come close to seeing all there was to see, and there were about 8 more studios that J wanted to participate in. So we'll be looking forward to our next visit, and their next Homeschool Day!


The Labradors said...

okay., so that is pretty cool. Had no idea that Sturbridge Village offered up that type of stuff. Reminded me also how much I enjoy Sturbridge Village. Will have to drag Al there, but maybe when it is warmer?

michelle grimes kindig said...

This place sounds so cool. There isn't anything here on that scale (that I've found yet). However, Genesee Country Village and Museum in Mumford, NY is very much like you describe. I spent many summer days there as a kid.
Such awesome memories