You know us, no plans Sally, so when we found ourselves heading toward Boston, MA the wheels started turning and we started planning a great educational jaunt of exactly one day into one of America’s earliest cities!!! Fun education is our motto, like, don’t let them know they are learning so that when they are asked what they’ve learned in the last year, they have no clue! True Story!
So where to start when Boston is so huge and has so much history and so many options? Easy for the Kellogg’s. We go straight for everything FREE. We are on a budget and we are teaching our kids money isn’t the end all and be all of life, and heck, the free stuff is actually quite awesome and less catered to tourism and more catered to facts. In fact, Boston is one of the great places where you can have a blast without spending a dime! Free things in Boston abound!
USS Constitution, “Old Ironsides”
And so, our first stop was the American icon, the USS Constitution, “Old Ironsides” where you can tour the entire ship. First, it’s the oldest commissioned ship in the world, it has NEVER been defeated since it’s launch in 1797 and was named by none other than George Washington! Oh the education, they were going to get from touring this ship!!
We were crazy excited, but the darn ship was closed, we know a sailor, actually, who is commissioned on the ship and we were hoping he could give us a tour, but the fact was that the ship had set sail that morning (sad we missed that) and all hands were on deck until late that afternoon
USS Cassin Young
However, right across the dock sits the enormous USS Cassin Young, a Fletcher Class Destroyer, considered a National Landmark and it was open and free to tour! Score! The USS Cassin Young was commissioned on Dec 31, 1943, it was designed, as were all destroyers at the time, to fight off attacks from the air, from land as well as under the sea!
She was loaded to the teeth with five 5-inch/38 caliber guns, ten 40mm guns, hedgehogs, Mk 9 depth charges, Mk 32 homing torpedoes and Mk 15 anti-ship torpedoes, which of course enthralled our boys.
The younger kids learned all about the Japanese Kamikazes, which really blew them away. The thought that someone could commit suicide in order to kill others was easily paralleled to the 9/11 terrorists.
We were able to tour the kitchen, the captain’s quarters, the officer’s quarters, the mess hall, the sailor’s bunks, we saw their bathrooms and showers, we literally saw everything. It was really really interesting and quite frankly surprising that it was FREE!!
Bunker Hill Monument
Next stop, Bunker Hill Monument! Bunker HIll is the famous first major battle of the American Revolution fought by the American colonists against British forces. The Monument stands 221 feet tall at Breed’s Hill, where the actual battle took place. We climbed 192 steps to a lookout spot that enabled us to see the entire city … it was beautiful, not to mention exceptionally educational!!
At this point we realized we were actually on the Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile, brick-lined route that actually brings you to 16 historical sites! SCORE!! Excercise, rich history and learning about the brave people who shaped our nation, this is like History 101 and instead of it taking 180 days to teach, we were going to get it done in 1! Or two as the next day the kids wrote about what they learned and how it might affect their lives in 2014. The results were astonishing! Thankfulness, gratitude and an understanding that freedom is not free is alive in our children! the younger kids wrote of courage and bravery and standing up for what is right and your beliefs. Powerful!
Next we stalked the North End, Boston’s oldest residential neighborhood, which contains some of the city’s oldest buildings. The Paul Revere House is the oldest in downtown Boston. It was built in 1680, and was owned and occupied by Paul Revere and his family from 1770 to 1800!!! The street in front of the house still has the original cobblestone. Today the house is a museum and while it’s not actually FREE, it is extremely cheap — adults are $3.50 and kids ages 5-17 are $1.00. Even the Kellogg’s find that reasonable!! 🙂
Old North Church
We stopped by the Old North Church, the site where with a 191’ steeple, Robert Newman climbed the steps and hung two lanters to signal the advancement of the British.
That night I read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride” for the first time with the immortal words, “one if by land, two if by sea” and they learned that the two lanterns signalled to the Patriots in Charlestown that the British were coming by sea! We entered the church, which is still used by the Episcopalians today, and walked around. The church itself is chock-full of history lessons and conversation starters for parents and students alike!! Again, all FREE!!
At this point we were running out of time and the sun was getting lower in the sky, the kids were starving and we still had much more to see, not to mention our meter was running low as well. We finished the Freedom Tour from the insides of our truck, Googling and learning on the fly — not highly recommended, but the knowledge was in their brains somewhere … maybe. But, to be sure, we talked extensively about the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party and on a wild hair … the US Constitution.
The US Constitution discussion began when we started talking about health care and then it morphed into a Constitutional discussion. Dan, being a Constitutional scholar (no lie, the man studies it HARD) gave a pretty heavy lecture. They learned that we were a Constitutional Republic, not a democracy as we all learned in High School. This led to a discussion about how too many people are OK with the government over-stepping until it infringes upon something they deem important. Until this point, they stay silent, when the norm should be to limit the government specifically to that which is directly given via the Constitution. Grady brought up the point that most people don’t understand what is in the Constitution, that it’s not a bunch of laws but that it sets up our Government. It directly states what powers the gov’t has …
We talk a lot, our kids can all hold their own in a political discussion and actually sound intelligent. They know about ISIS, they know about immigration and minimum wage laws, abortion and gay marriage. They are knowledgeable about guns, fracking and the fair tax. They understand their faith, they know what they believe and why. They can debate with the best of them the issues surrounding GMO’s and the benefits of eating healthy! They’ll go head to head with anyone re: the stupidity surrounding the overpopulation argument, global warming and Hillary in 2016.
There is nothing more valuable than knowledge, of both the past and the present. To have a solid understanding of the origins and meaning of our Constitution is to understand how and why it was framed and what it means today. It’s important to stand up for violations of any degree, whether they affect your quality of life or not. The strict adherence to the Constitution is required or our country begins to falter.
Boston was a huge success … it opened the door to showing the kids how rebellion can be a show of honor when battling corruption and misrepresentation. It was with this knowledge that our founding Fathers designed the Declaration of Independence AND the Constitution.
“Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” – Benjamin Franklin
Homeschooling/Roadschooling is a huge success as we learn what is important to us. We don’t spend our time diagramming sentences or other long deemed useless tasks. Instead, we are able to focus on the truly important things, to us and our kids’ future. They don’t dream of cubicles, jobs or careers, working their lives away, putting their kids in daycare to fill their homes with meaningless junk.
They don’t have these types of aspirations. They dream so much bigger. They dream of living, of glorifying God and of pure Joy. They dream of being producers, not consumers. Their dreams are bigger than my dreams for them. I am so proud of them, they view the world with such a wide lens, they have such confidence, they aren’t afraid to try and to fail and they are so full of compassion and love.
And, because of their knowledge of history, they are more than aware of how blessed they are to live in the United States, a free nation, a nation Under God, a nation of peace and individuality. A nation where no matter who you are or where you came from, the only limitations are the ones you put on yourselves. And, learning history, learning the sacrifices our brave soldiers make to keep complete strangers safe, is tantamount to never losing sight of gratitude, it’s imperative to never taking freedom for granted. And it’s our moral duty, to them, to our families, our neighbors and to God to preserve personal liberty.
Thank you Boston!!! For preserving History, for offering so much of it for free or almost free so that anyone, regardless of budget or income can come to your great city and learn, imagine and practically relive the true sense of our American History!
And, of course, thanks for having some epic restaurants to choose from. We, of course, hit up a pretty amazing seafood joint while there … The Barking Crab. I highly recommend reservations as the food was ah-mazing!!! And the view … mesmerizing!