Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Maine History

The State of Maine requires homeschoolers teach Maine history at some point between grades 6-12. Although, homeschoolers who are educating under "Option 2" or "Recognized for Attendance Purposes Private Schools" (RAPPS) are just required to teach it at some point. I am the administrator for a RAPPS school here in Maine and the above photo is some of the students who are enrolled. Each family teaches their own children in their own home, but being part of a RAPPS allows us to avoid some of the paperwork required of "Option 1" students. That's just a bit of background. 

I have found that field trips within the state do an extremely good job of helping students learn Maine history. They realize that it's not just dry information but it helps put real faces and artifacts to the stories they hear. 

This past Friday I put together a field trip with another friend who runs a different RAPPS school. I coordinated a day in Brunswick. We split in to four groups (two at two different locations) and then switched. My group started at the Joshua Chamberlain House. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed inside the house. 

Joshua Chamberlain was a famous solider in the Civil War. The home we toured was the house he lived in while working at Bowdoin College as well as when he was Governor of the state. 

The history of the home was fascinating.  It was originally in a different spot and was only 1-1/2 stories tall. However, when Chamberlain became President of Bowdoin College, he had the home lifted up (11 feet!) and an entirely new first floor built. This is what we toured. 

We were able to go in to his office. It had some original items that he had while he was a solider. Many of the items were recreations but there were some originals. I always find this part fascinating since it's so neat to think about the people using the items. 

Our tour here lasted about 45 minutes. Once it was done, we all walked down the street (about a 1/4 mile) to the Skolfield-Whittier House. Both houses are managed by the Pejepscot Historical Society.

I actually found this house more fascinating then Joshua Chamberlain's. The home was built by two brothers. Each lived on one side (semi-detached). There were four brothers total and the other two brothers had homes beside this one. If you can see the fence behind my boys in the photo above, it surrounds all four houses marking them as families. 

The Skolfield-Whittier families were the only ones to ever occupy this home until the historical society bought it. The amazing thing was that they never threw anything out! Coupled with the fact that it looks as if they all just up and left for vacation yesterday and left their front door open, and it's a unique look at how families lived in the late 1800s. 

I found it interesting in that I grew up in a home of the same era. There was a wonderful cast iron cooking stove in the kitchen. My kitchen had a similar styled one, although my parents did purchase it for our house. It was not original. I also grew up with a hot water tank attached to the wood stove. In fact, until I was in high school, we did not have hot running water in the summer time. The only time we had hot water was when the wood stove was in use. So in the summer time we had to heat water on our electric stove and take sponge baths and wash our hair over the tub. I loved it when my parents had oil heat put in! This home also had a very large water tank attached to the cook stove in the kitchen. 

This house was simply amazing to wander through. I have to admit that oftentimes I set up these field trips for the parents more for the kids. They are just excuses for us to go out and enjoy some of these venues. At least, I'm sure that's what my kids think. 

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