A Family Outing: Montpelier Mansion

Note: I had issues with my site after publishing this post, so I recalled it, and I’m trying again!

Montpelier Mansion
The dining room

Hubby, Little J and I recently had the chance to visit Montpelier Mansion in Laurel, Maryland, which is about 40 minutes south of Baltimore. If you’re ever up that way, this is an inexpensive, interesting National Historic Landmark to visit. I’m used to visiting historic mansions and houses where you get to see the downstairs and that’s about it. At Montpelier, you actually get to climb the stairs and go to the upper level! It sounds like such a little thing, but it was neat to see the majority of the house. Tickets are $5 for adults, and kids are free or $2 depending on the age. Montpelier Mansion is a Blue Star Museum, so it’s free for active-duty military, National Guard, and reservists and their family members between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Montpelier Mansion
Walking up to the mansion

Montpelier Mansion was built between 1781 and 1785 by Maj. Thomas Snowden and his wife, Anne. Guests at the home included George Washington and Abigail Adams.

The not-so-nice reality of this mansion and its past

Upstairs, there’s a children’s room where almost everything is hands-on. They can try on clothes, write on chalk slates, and play with old-fashioned wooden toys.     Kids collage

Montpelier Mansion
This bed chamber belonged to the lady of the house. Do you think that bed is actually squishy in the middle?

One really cool thing about the property- they’ve found dinosaur skeletons there! Some of those bones are now on display at the Smithsonian, but there’s a cool kid’s dinosaur room on the property where Little J was able to play with some toy dinosaurs and dinosaur bone replicas, and even build a 3D wood dinosaur skeleton! Montpelier Mansion

We had a fun time, and considering that most of the exhibits had A/C, it was a great place to explore in this summer heat! I recommend visiting Montpelier Mansion if you’re in the area.

What historic places have you visited this summer?

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A Family Outing: Colonial Williamsburg

One of my favorite places to visit in the Hampton Roads area is Colonial Williamsburg. Well, it might not technically be in the HR area, but it’s close! It takes about an hour to get there from Virginia Beach, unless it’s rush hour, of course.

Visit Colonial Williamsburg

Tickets to Colonial Williamsburg aren’t cheap; a single-day adult ticket is almost $42 (as of this posting). But I still think it’s worth it to visit there at least once, because the historical aspect is amazing. You can actually walk through the colonial town without paying for admittance, but you need a ticket for the bus/shuttle and to go inside of the shops and homes. Multi-tickets are available as well as “bounce” tickets, which allow you to visit other historical sites in the area under the same admission.

Archaeology site within Colonial Williamsburg
Archaeology site within Colonial Williamsburg

The art museum costs $11.95 alone for adults, or it’s included in your Colonial Williamsburg admission. I love this museum. The first couple times I went, they had a clothing exhibit, and I was floored when I realized that I’d be a giant compared to 18th century women and men. The last time I went, that exhibit had been removed (at least I couldn’t find it, but there’s an online exhibit HERE), but they had a foundling exhibit that included detailed records of babies that had been dropped off at the door of the local orphanage. It was incredibly sad, but also opened my eyes to how blessed I am.

If you’re a military family, you can visit Colonial Williamsburg for free, if you’re able to go on certain dates like Veterans Day weekend or Independence Day, etc. Visit Blue Star Families for more information on museums that offer free admission for service members and their dependents.

In the village itself, you can tour shops and homes that look like they would have during colonial times. The tour guides and employees are all dressed in 18th century period costumes, so you feel as if you’re really there.

I would definitely call Colonial Williamsburg kid-friendly. Some of the shops may have breakable items, but the site overall is geared towards families. The guides can break information down so children can understand, and they’ll even incorporate kids from the audience into their lectures. For example, at the local jail, the guide may ask the age of a boy from the crowd, and then he’d tell everyone what responsibilities that boy would have if he’d lived in the 18th century.

There are also plenty of large, grassy areas where kids can run and play. I’ve gone there with both a jogging stroller and a light-weight stroller, and I found the jogging stroller easiest to use, since there are gravel paths in addition to the paved. The horses being ridden or pulling buggies through town are also really fun for toddlers to see!

Restaurants and cafes are available actually inside the village (some of them are closed during the winter, though), but at the end of the village is the actual city of Williamsburg, and you can walk right across the street to numerous restaurants and coffee shops. We’ve eaten a couple times at restaurants there, and we’ve also packed our own lunch and sat on the grass to eat it.

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Review: Medieval History Memory Game by Classical Historian Curriculum

Whew! My blog post title is quite a mouthful today, eh? This is my last review for the former Mosaic Reviews team. They’ll be unveiling their new program shortly, and I’m excited to be apart of it!

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John and Zdenka De Gree founded The Classical Historian after realizing there’s a lack of history curriculum that promotes “independent and critical thinking.” The Medieval History Memory Game (RV $14.95) can be used in two ways: matching and categories. Matching doesn’t require reading and is suitable for ages three and up. Since it’s more complex, categories is more appropriate for ages seven and up. Categories teaches both chronology and geography.

 My Take:

There was one little thing about the memory tiles that exasperated me, because it’s a pet peeve of mine! (If my friends read this post, they will chuckle, because they KNOW how I feel about this). In the Viking card, the Viking depicted has horns on his helmet, which is not historically accurate. I suppose horns were included on this card because the majority of the world associates horned helmets with Vikings…BUT this game teaches history. I think it should be as historically accurate as possible.

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I wanted to show a nice photo of the cards lined up evenly for the matching game. But my helper had other plans.

In the matching game, kids (and adults too!) can familiarize themselves with people, places, artifacts, etc. from history. Obviously a good memory is important not just for school but to survive in life. A quick Google search will show you study after study that show we can improve our memorization skills by games. I’ve even read that memory games are good for the elderly to stave off dementia.

The categories game is more difficult to play and appropriate for middle school and up. It’s timed, and you take turns. You set up the four category tiles (Europe, The Americas, The Far East, and Arabia) in a row. The matching tiles are all mixed up, and once your timer starts, you have to place all the tiles, one-by-one under the correct category. If you place a tile under the wrong category, you lose 10 seconds from your time. The person with the fastest time, wins.

The Medieval History Memory Game complements the Classical Historian curriculum. Besides other games, they develop and sell history textbooks. I have to admit that I’m intrigued to know more about their texts. The idea of analyzing the past, not just focusing on rote memory, really appeals to me, and I think that’s something that was missing from my own education.

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Close up of the artwork and photography. I’m confused why it’s spelled “Sistene” here instead of “Sistine.” I’m guessing an original or common alternate spelling. Maybe that’s something the textbook explains?

You can learn more about the Classical Historian, by visiting their website. If I’ve piqued your interest, come back and check out this post on the weekend. Other bloggers from the Mosaic Reviews team reviewed this memory game as well as other Classical Historian products. I’ll link to their reviews when they’re all up.

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