Saturday, December 3, 2011

Study America Saturday ~ The Five Senses of American History

When you have the opportunity to see American History ... see it. When you have the opportunity to hear American History ... hear it. When you have the opportunity to touch American History ... touch it. When you have the opportunity to smell American History ... smell it. When you have the opportunity to taste American History ... well, we didn't have that opportunity (unless you count McDonald's on the way home). But we had opportunities to do the others. And it was awesome!

The Nina and Pinta, lifesize replicas of the originals sailed by Christopher Columbus, made a stop in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and we went to tour them this week.

In preparation for our trip, we read a couple of books, of course. We sketched some pictures. We talked a lot about it.

But on Monday, we experienced it!

We saw replicas made in the exact dimensions of the original Nina and Pinta (well, the Nina is the exact dimensions but the Pinta was made larger for some reason). The Santa Maria has not been made, as it would be too big to travel down the rivers and ports that the replicas travel down to dock for the public to see. When you see how big, or how small, the ships really are, it's amazing! Really, those many crew members all lived and worked (mostly worked) together on those tiny ships.

We opted for a guided tour from one of the actual current crew members of the Nina. How fascinating it was to hear the history told by him, and to hear about his modern-day adventures as a crew member aboard one of the ships. Of course he has luxuries the original crew members did not have. But he had real life experiences to share!

We touched the deck and the ropes and the "mechanics" used to sail the ship. We touched a piece of American History! We read a flier on the ship seeking current crew members. Dawson thought that would be so awesome! I asked him how many of his friends would be able to say that they were a crew member aboard one of Christopher Columbus' ships.

And there were even things to smell! The guide told us about how the ship, ropes, everything, were always covered in tar as a way to protect it and camouflage it from enemies. He told that you didn't have to worry about the smell of bad body odor, because the overwhelming smell of tar was constantly in the air. He passed around a jar of tar for us to smell.

There wasn't any food for us to eat at the ship. Unfortunately, the crew members did not have a lot of food themselves. What they did have to eat were salted meats and brick solid biscuits. He told about how the water would be rancid and germ infested. They would pour wine into the water, to kill the germs and make it taste better. The Vitamin C in the wine was what kept the crew members from getting Scurvy. Interesting.

My point? Get out of your books. Scour the internet for opportunities to use your kids' senses to learn about a topic, even if it's not a topic you are currently studying. Take a week-long break and learn about it and then go experience it. Dawson and Brynne loved this field trip, even though we were outside on a 35 degree morning. Hmmmm ... I wonder what kind of weather conditions the original crew members had to endure???

Good times and memories made. A school day and lesson that will likely never be forgotten.


  1. This sounds absolutely fabulous!
    I am currently planning a road trip for this summer - we are going to go up and down the east coast to see all the major American History places - including Jamestown, President's homes, Colonial Williamsburg etc,. I can't wait!

  2. What a great way to learn history! I love it when we can "live" what we're learning.
    (I am having a glass of anti-scurvy liquid right now! lol)


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