Sunday, June 22, 2014


I mentioned in a previous post that I had put together a few field trips for the spring. This was one of the last ones I coordinated, but actually the first one we went on. Willowbrook is a living history museum located in Newfield, Maine. It's a recreation of a village set in the 19th century. Many of the buildings are original to the village.

I named our homeschool Freedom Academy and oftentimes I will use that when I'm putting together field trips. I also am the administrator for a RAPPS here in Maine (this is one of two options to homeschool in the state. Essentially I run a private school where all the parents teach their children at home. I do all the necessary paperwork) so I use our school name for that as well.

Once we arrived at the village we split in to three groups in order to keep the groups small. Willowbrook opens to schools just prior to their official opening (early May) through the beginning of June. We had the whole place to ourselves which was really nice.

Our group started out at the print shop.

Normally the students aren't allowed behind the counter but they are trying out some more hands-on activities throughout the village. So we were one of the first groups that was able to go behind the counter and write with a quill and print a small bookmark. 

Explaining how to hold the quill

Printing the small bookmark (we added the date)

It was interesting to see the old printing press - the larger one - that they have as well. I have a cousin who runs a very successful printing business in Boston and he uses a 100+ year old press to create his items. We went to one of his open houses a few years ago and were able to print out some things on his press. 

Next on our schedule was the schoolhouse. 
First we had to meet the school teacher.

She was wonderful. She explained the history of the one-room schoolhouse and how they were run. I think she scared all the kids at the beginning because she told them she was going to be strict!

The boys were seated on one side of the classroom. Rather full isn't it? You can see the sole girl who was in our group below. I really didn't plan for that to happen and we would have had a couple more girls in our group, but one mom couldn't make due to illness. Although, I've found that we typically have a lot of boys on these trips. 

Explaining copywork and how multiple ages are taught at the same time.

Our day started at 9:45 am and went until 3pm. We had scheduled visits at buildings all over the village every 30 minutes. It was a very full day and jam packed with learning, but I think it was fun too. Many of the stops had hands-on activities for the children. 

Next up for us was Trafton House. 

Isaac Trafton was the village doctor. I happen to adore old homes. I love walking through them when we go to places like this. I always find it especially interesting to see how people of those time periods lived and compare it to our houses of today.

The doctors desk

Children of the 21st century in the children's room from the 19th century.

Thankfully the schedule did have a lunch break built in. Although, we never did feel rushed. There was a lot to see thus the jam-packed schedule.

Our next stop was the Hands-On History area.

This was a neat place for the kids to hit mid-day. There was an area set up where they could send Morse Code back and forth to each other - they were a room away from each one. One telegraph was set up to receive and one to send. 

Outside there was an washing tub and clothes for the kids to wash, wring out, and hand up to dry. There were also a few rooms with just various artifacts set up for the kids to check out. After we left here, we headed to the store. They had things for the kids to buy at old-fashioned prices. I gave each of my boys $2 and they were able to stretch it quite a bit!

The steam-powered carousel was up next.

 The last time we had come, the kids couldn't ride on this as it goes fast! In fact, back in the day, it was considered an adult ride due to the speed it went. We were told that some of the workers at the museum rode on this at the top speed and actually fell off it because it was going so fast!

However, the museum director was able to convince the board of trustees to allow the school groups to try it at - at the lowest speed though!

The carousel used to be powered by steam. However, because the engine is riveted together, it wasn't deemed safe to use it that way. So the whole thing was converted to compressed air. The above photo is of the original engine.

Getting ready to ride

The kids loved the ride. They wanted to go again, but because of the way the system is set up, it has to sit for a bit of time between each ride in order to recharge. 

Not actually on the carousel

After everyone had ridden the carousel we went and looked at a fully restored stagecoach. It was, in a word, impressive

Our next stop of the day was the Blacksmith shop.

The gentleman who ran the blacksmith shop for the tours was hilarious. He was deadpan serious but cracked jokes most of the time. The kids seemed to really enjoy this stop. 

Because the blacksmith shop and the next stop were so small, I spent that hour outside letting Mr. T (the 2 year old I babysit) run around and get out of the stroller. The only photo I took of the next stop on the tour was this one:

It's getting towards the end of the day and I think the kids were getting just a bit tired. They went in to the carriage house. Inside were various carriages, sleighs, and the like. We were told it was pretty crowded so I opted not to go in with the kids for photos.

And lastly, we went to the Durgin House.

It was enjoyable to walk through this old home. It had narrow hallways and twists and turns. Lots of bedrooms. Just really fun to explore.

This was a really enjoyable today. It was a long day for us though. It was a two hour drive one way so a four hour round-trip. We also spent five hours on site for the tours. However, I do recommend going if you've never been. It was fun, the staff was engaging, and I think we all learned something new.

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