My biggest goal for school last yaer was to tackle both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars with the kids. Fairly ambitious, but since we were going to be on the east coast for a few months, I really wanted history to come alive for us. About halfway through our trip, I realized that there was no way we were going to cover both wars. Wrapping our heads around just one was an impressive feat, but I loved the deep dive on the Revolutionary War we were able to accomplish. Even as an adult I learned SO much right alongside our kids. That was the most magical outcome of all.
Below I’ll outline what resources we used, what sites we visited, and how I feel like they fit in to our unit study. Some worked better than others, but mostly we reinforced concepts, events, and ideas over and over in different ways. It was incredible.
I’ll start with our physical resources and then move on to the actual places we visited.
“Time Travel with Exceptional Americans” Audio Books by Rush Limbaugh
We’ve always listened to audio books as we drive, and when I learned about this Rush Revere Audible series I knew I wanted to try it out. We started with the Pilgrims and listened through Rush Revere and the Presidency. The audio books expound the events leading up to the Revolutionary War plus the Battles of Concord and Lexington. I wish Mr. Limbaugh had included the Battle of New York or even the end of the war in Yorktown to finish up, but we also learned the Revolutionary War was complicated, long, and world wide. So, we’ll take what we can get.
These books are written and narrated by Rush Limbaugh. We are not listeners of his radio show, nor do I know much about him as a person so I can’t comment on that, but we did enjoy the narration. I do love that he included that the first Patriots absolutely believed they had a divine mandate to free this country from Great Britain and were inspired by God. Being Christian, I felt that was super important to our studies.
“Brave Pilgrims” – Covers the early moments of our nation as the Pilgrims come over to Plymouth from England. Introduces William Bradford, Myles Standish, and Samoset.
“First Patriots” – Covers the Stamp Act, Intolerable Acts, King George III, and the Boston Tea party.
“American Revolution” – Covers the year 1775 including the Boston Massacre, lanterns in the Old North Church, Paul Revere’s Ride, and the battles of Lexington and Concord.
“First Presidency” – This was my least favorite only because it involves less time travel than the other books. We do get a look at the first three presidencies of the United States but we could have not listened and I would have been fine.
“Seeds of America” Trilogy by Laurie Halse Anderson
I read the “Seeds of America” trilogy by Laurie Halse Anderson a few years ago and loved them. I’ve mentioned them to my older two kids who tried to read them on their own and just couldn’t get into it. Since we were already listening to Rush Revere, listening to these as audio books didn’t make sense, and we just don’t have the time or energy to read aloud together (although I know there are incredible benefits to that!).
My solution? We started a book club. We assigned a certain number of chapters to be read in a day and then talked about them over dinner. We all loved it!
The series follows three young slaves, Isabel, Curzon, and Ruth through the course of the Revolutionary War and their fight for freedom alongside the Patriots. “Chains” begins in New York when the British invade (so picks up kind of where Rush leaves off) and are more focused on the characters rather than events. The characters remark on events, “I heard Washington escaped through the fog” but its a more localized tale about the hardships and the struggles of the people.
“Forge” takes place during the winter encampment of Valley Forge and is the story of Curzon and his fight as a soldier as well as being captured and returned to slavery.
“Ashes” follows the end of the war near Yorktown. I *wish* we had had time to visit southern Virginia to close up the unit study, but either way we definitely needed to finish the series to find out what happens to the characters!
The biggest takeaway of this series for us was the fact that while the Patriots were fighting for freedom they still kept thousands of African Americans in slavery. The hypocrisy of this situation was not lost on any us, and spurred some really important discussions with our children. You can buy the trilogy on Amazon here.
Smash Journaling the American Revolution Timeline
One of the additions for school this trip as been our “Smash Journals”. Inspired by our friends over at KidProject.org I decided to help the kids keep a record of our travels while exercising their creative muscles. We bought $5 dot graph journals from Michael’s and the kids have journaled, sketched, printed photos, and included stickers, National Park stamps, and ticket stubs.
When we began talk of the Revolutionary War I knew we needed a timeline so my kids could understand the events as they played out.
One afternoon in Acadia NP, Alyssa and I gathered all our crafty materials and spent a few hours with all the kids on a picnic table but by the bay helping put their timelines together. Originally we made space through the Civil War and we did end up adding dates for Lincoln’s assassination but most of our dates are between the Pilgrims and the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
“Everything You Need to Ace American History in One Big Fat Notebook”
We randomly picked up a copy of this book at Costco on our way to the East Coast. Thinking that my kids would just sit down and read it (which they do sometimes), Sam and I both felt it was a good resource to have on hand. While not a complete study of the Revolutionary War, the short section did help us fill in our timeline and reinforce events. You can also buy it on Amazon.
Places We Visited
I realize not everyone has the chance to visit, in person, the Revolutionary War sites in the eastern United States. However, most of these parks are run by the National Park Service and they have incredible information on their websites. So, you could still study the locations and the sites even if its from home.
This visit was a happy accident. We just happened to be in the area and were able to visit the fort. While the timeline was confusing (the fort was used in multiple wars) it did introduce the concept of the French and Indian Wars. We learned later that the Stamp and Intolerable Acts were direct results of King George III trying to pay off the war which made it relevant to the kids. See more about our visit here.
I debated between this and the Boston Tea Party Museum due to the cost. It was fairly expensive, but I knew we could easily spend most of day exploring here. Plus, our friends wanted to go so that sealed it. My favorite part was sitting in the Native American village and listening to stories about the Wampanoeg culture. Unfortunately the Mayflower is under renovation and wasn’t there but we did also get to wander through the 17th Century English Village.
Overall I think I’d give the park a B-. It didn’t help that it was hot and humid walking through the English village and the kids were tired. Overall I’m glad we went though!
I was SO excited for Boston. I was ready for the history, and to just feel the city. I’m not sure what went wrong but it really didn’t do it for me. We walked most of the Freedom Trail and saw the site of the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere’s House (pay to go in), the Old North Church (also pay to go in), and the Battle of Bunker Hill (climb to the top for free).
It was a lot of walking and kind of cool to see where things were but Boston has changed so much I didn’t get the history magic goosebumps I was looking for.
I liked Minute Man NHP SO much more than Boston. Located between the cities of Concord and Lexington everything was slower paced and I could imagine what it would have been like in 1775.
The multi-media presentation a the visitor center is not to be missed. It was an INCREDIBLE detailing of the events that led up to the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere’s Ride & Capture, and the battles of Lexington and Concord.
We only happened by Federal Hall because of the Rush Revere series. We were listening to the “First Presidency” as we drove into NYC and he talked about the fact that Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the United States of America on the steps of Federal Hall. Huh. We should go there. So we stopped by. Unfortunately it was closed but since I’ve learned that the visitor center there is actually quite good. So, maybe check to make sure its open before you happen by!
We visited Philadelphia 5 years ago just after purchasing the Airstream. It was one of our first moochdocking experiences and we loved hanging out with our friends. We didn’t plan super far in advance (yes, that’s usually how it goes) so we were unable to get tickets for Independence Hall. Consequently, touring Independence Hall was the ONE thing I wanted to do this time around. Sam had to work, so the kids and I drove in early and were able to acquire tickets for the late afternoon which gave us time to explore the Museum of the American Revolution.
The tour itself was actually kind of uninspiring (after ALL those years of waiting, lol!) but I can now check it off my bucket list.
This was AMAZING. The Museum of the American Revolution is Philly’s newest, state of the art museum and they did an incredible job. They had lots of multi-media presentations, videos, artifacts, and summaries of the events. The museum is laid out chronoligcally so we journeyed from the ascension of King George III to the throne of Great Britain, to the early events and conflict of the American Revoluation, the battles, and finally the aftermath and how it affected both the United States and the world as an example of a democracy.
I loved that we had studied so much of this that my kids were like, “Yes! We talked about this!” They recognized many of the events, stories, and battles which took place so this was kind of an overview/review type experience. At one point, Andrew excitedly ran up to me and said, “They have a piece of Kind George’s Statue!” Yep. The one the patriots tore down after hearing the Declaration of Independence and melted into bullets (thanks Rush!).
We did learn more about the Native American struggle with choosing sides, the battle at Saratoga, the invasion of Philadelphia, and the Battle of Brandywine. Andrew also spent quite a bit of time aboard the privateering ship talking to a docent about the role they played in the war.
My FAVORITE part was the presentation of George Washington’s actual war tent. You guys! They have HIS TENT. It was a beautiful video presentation and reveal, I just wish they had given us a chance to stare at it a little longer. If I’ve learned nothing else through this study, its to complete respect this man who did so many amazing things for our country.
Because we had been reading the “Seeds of America” series, I was equally excited to visit Valley Forge and explore the area with our kids. Valley Forge was a turning point in the Revolutionary War as we finally received foreign aid and Baron Von Steuben helped discipline and train our troops over the long winter. Totally fascinating.
Equally amazing was visiting George Washington’s headquarters and realizing the original banister was still in place. Totally geek out moment. We thoroughly enjoyed riding our bikes through the park and imagining what it must have looked with like all those troops nestled in for the winter!
While I we didn’t cover ALL the available sites, by the time we turned back west I felt we had done a pretty good job of studying the Revolutionary War. My only twinge of sadness was that we didn’t make it down to Yorktown to really round things out!
Have you studied the Revolutionary War with your kids? What are your favorite resources?
Last week I cracked my eyes one morning in response to my alarm clock and groggily looked out the window. Realizing what I was seeing I bolted upright and grabbed my phone for a photo. It had snowed a good 4 inches overnight which meant the local ski resort, Grand Targhee, must have gotten more than that! With opening day coming fast we will take all the snow we can get.
Last year after Hawaii, we arrived back to Driggs in early January and immediately threw ourselves into ski season with wild abandon. We rented skis, signed our kids up for lessons through the local school districts, and planned to spend most of our time learning on the slopes.
It was fantastic.
And we were exhausted.
“That’s a wrap on ski season! We’ve skied on average twice a week for the last 3 months and are so impressed with how well the kids have done.”
This year we plan to take things a little more slowly. Because we came back from our east coast trip a little early (okay, A LOT early) we made the local ski swap and got used skis, boots, and poles for all the kids. With opening day set for November 16th we have at least a month and half of skiing before lessons start again in January which will give us the perfect amount of time to get warmed up and back into the swing of things.
In honor of ski season almost upon us, Sam and I sat down and came up with our top 5 reasons we love Grand Targhee and are excited to ski there again this winter.
Grand Targhee has one of the largest beginner friendly terrains I’ve ever seen. Not only do they have a magic carpet, but they have a beginner lift that explores acres of green, kid friendly, action packed terrain.
The kids are excited to check out all their favorite trails, and I think they will spend most of December becoming familiar again with their favorite runs. The kids also love the various paths through the trees that turn technical skill practice into something fun! Those will help with their turning and handling skills in preparation for tackling some of the easier intermediate trails.
I’m still floored by the caliber of instructors Targhee hires for their ski school. My kids LOVED it. Even after lessons were over, their instructors would still say “hi” to my kids when we ran into each other on the slopes. All of my kids have their fingers crossed they get the same instructor this year.
We are close to Jackson Hole, WY which draws a lot of the intense, ski vacation type people. We’ve often heard of lift lines over an hour long on that side of the mountains, while I get a little miffed if we can’t ski right back on the lift.
We have met some amazing people from all over the world riding the chair lift, but this side of the mountain is just….quieter. Its more intimate. It has soul. And its perfect.
While the beginner terrain is immense and awesome, there’s also something for everyone. Sam and I have *almost* skied every blue run, haven’t really touched the blacks (and there are some good ones), not to mention the back country area around Mary’s that you have to hike to. Let’s be honest – that stuff just isn’t even on my radar yet.
The resort is also small, which far from being a disadvantage means that we can all grab separate runs and easily meet back down at the lodge. Its super easy to keep track of our kids with small Talk-About-Radios.
And the s’mores.
Let’s not forget the s’mores every Friday sponsored by the ski school. One of my favorite things last year was meeting up with the kids after lessons and all grabbing a s’more (or two, or three) on the patio before heading home. I love the friendly atmosphere and general camaraderie that exists at the resort – it makes it so easy to want to come back again and again!
With only a few days left until opening day, we seriously can’t wait to get back on the slopes and we are excited to help Grand Targhee celebrate their 50th anniversary this year! In the meantime, we’ll just keep praying that the snow comes hard and fast!
We have one rule in this house. Okay, we have more than one rule, but the MAIN rule for family adventuring is: ALWAYS pack snacks. It doesn’t even matter that we don’t have toddlers anymore, even older kids get hangry when their tummies are empty. And hangry kids are no fun to hike with. Or bike. Or anything really.
Over the years we’ve kind of gravitated to our favorite snacks, and while we do try to add new ones, these seem to be our tried and true! We do mix in fresh fruits and veggies (carrots, cherry tomatoes, apples, clementines), and fruit snacks but these are the more exciting ones- at least in my opinion. Note that most of these links are affiliates cause that’s how we keep the lights on around here. Thanks for helping us out!
We’ve been ambassadors for at least 2 years now and I have no plans to stop proclaiming the amazingness of Perky Jerky. I feel like protein is one of the hardest trail snacks to get (unless you go with a bar – but then that’s a lot of carbs too) but this is SO easy. And delicious. All of their meats are super tender, easy to chew and full of flavor. Have I mentioned they taste amazing?
Just this year Perky Jerky added pork to their line up and just thinking about the Coconut Curry flavor has me getting hungry. We eat these in the car on long drives, on the ski hill, on the way back from the ski hill, hiking, biking, and and the beach. Pretty much anywhere.
We were sent a sample pack from Mission Meats this year and were excited to give them a try! The kids liked their beef sticks, but what really interested me were their Graze Bars. All their products are made from 100% grass fed beef and are pretty tasty!
Vermont Smoke & Cure
Apparently it was jerky month, because we were also contacted by Vermont Smoke & Cure – a US based company that makes meat snacks. We tried both the Maple Teriyaki & the Jalapeno Lime grass-fed beef sticks and were fans! They had lots of flavor and the jalapeno flavor had a good kick to it!
Blue Ridge Granola
Blue Ridge is a small company based out of North Carolina in the heart of the Smoky Mountains. They were a 365 Mile Challenge Kids’ Week sponsor and while their cookies are delicious, their home made granola is even better! I love to just toss back a handful while on the trail or pair it with Greek yogurt at home.
Just the Cheese
We were recently introduced to Just the Cheese on Instagram and when I indicated I was writing a post about snacks they agreed to send us a few samples to try out. I loved them!
They are basically baked cheese. That’s it. Gluten free, and Keto friendly, they are simple and delicious. They also have different flavors and come in bars or minis. I’m super excited to try out the rest of the flavors!
Bare Snacks Baked & Naturally Crunchy
It’s all about the coconut. I know I have a photo of apples and those are more common, but trust me on this. Their coconut chips are amazing and I HATE coconut. It looks like they’ve also come out with sweet potato, beets, and carrots in addition to the fruit. Time to go order some on Amazon.
Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars
We pick these up by the box at Costco and love them. Well, most of us do. They usually have three flavors: fig, blueberry, and raspberry. When we buy just one flavor at a time the kids prefer Double Chocolate Brownie.
Unsurprising, right? I feel like these a good alternative to plain old granola bars.
Nature Nate’s Honey
Sometimes we get approached by companies and I think “I don’t want to write a post about that” but then we actually TRY it and fall in LOVE and I think, “Write the post!” That’s kind of how I felt about Nature Nate when I first heard about it. Honey? As a snack? But its seriously like an organic sugar kick. Let’s be honest too – their little honey packets are freaking adorable and so easy to toss in a bag and go!
Justin’s Almond Butter & Back to Nature Crackers
This was a staple for us in Hawaii. I could order them both off Amazon (it might take awhile to get there) but easy to throw in the beach bag, and super filling. I also like that the almond butter packets are smaller and easy to size portion. And they are delicious on banana pancakes.
We randomly picked up a bag of these at REI one day and totally loved them! Okay, Cara totally loves them which is a HUGE perk since she’s our picky eater. Our favorite is definitely cheddar – we tried the caramel sea salt and it was just weird. We recently ordered some Butter & Sea Salt and they were a hit with Rachel as well!
Honey Stinger Waffles & Chews
My kids BEG for Honey Stinger Waffles. They are kind of expensive, but we buy them at REI in bulk and get a small discount when we do. We save these for BIG adventures. And eat sparingly but dang. My kids will practically do anything for one.
The chews are also good – kind of like a hefty fruit snack. If we are doing something serious we’ll buy the caffeinated versions and give them each one or two for a pick me up.
Pretzel Thins, Hummus, & Cucumber
We buy the Pretzel thins at Costco in the BIG bags and then usually grab a small tupperware to pack them in so they don’t get smooshed. I remember one time in Wisconsin we let Cara put them in her bag and I’m heard them bouncing down the trail with her. We ended up with pretzel dust- so keep them somewhere a little more smooth than with the 5 year old.
Pair it with single serve hummus cups, slice up a cucumber with a pocket knife and even add in some Perky Jerky and you practically have lunch.
Pepperoni Roll Ups
I asked on Instagram once about people’s favorite snacks and someone mentioned these. We tried them and totally got addicted! Its basically crescent rolls layed out with some marinara, mozzarella cheese and pepperoni. Roll it up, bake them about 12 minutes and you are good to go!
They store pretty easily and we’ve packed them for lunch or snacks depending on how long we’ll be out.
This is a new addition to the “get kids down the trail” arsenal. Our friends started bringing small Gatorade bottles for each of the kids on hikes, and this last trip to Acadia they gave some to our kids as well. Cara told me that she had all the energy in the world and she could hike forever! I’m sold.
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Power Cookies
These breakfast “cookies” are ridiculously delicious. They’ve turned into one of our go-to hiking snacks as they are easy to stash in a small tupperwear and toss into our pack. They are loaded with Peanut Butter energy goodness, apples, oats, and bananas! Full recipe here on the blog.
Whole Grain Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
These are also a backpacking favorite. They are pretty dense so they pack well, and taste pretty good 4-5 miles into a trail. Okay, they taste good all the time. We made them once for Andrew’s birthday on the Apostle Islands and added campfire roasted marshmallows and chocolate. Yup. It was good. Full recipe here on the blog.
Homemade Trail Mix
This is a big one for us when we go backpacking. My kids don’t really like nuts (unless you count toffee covered peanuts) so I came up with my own nut-less version of a trail mix. We use square pretzels, M&M’s, craisins, peanuts, & mini marshmallows. Mix together and store tightly covered.
The second option my kids like is a mix of toffee covered peanuts (I’ve literally only found them at the built section of Winco grocery stores) and skittles.
There you have it! We try and pack at least 2-3 snacks per person when on a medium length adventure. Usually some kind of bar, a fruity thing, and something fresh & crunchy. If its a long adventure we’ll also pack candy or gummies – lovingly called “trail bait” that help keep the kids going when they get tired.
What about you? What are your favorite snacks to pack on outdoor adventures?
For some reason, Nova Scotia is the area that excited me the most about the Maritime Provinces. We originally had reservations at Cavendish campground in Prince Edward Island National Park. When most people talk about the Maritimes I hear a lot of “PEI” mentioned. Fictional home of the literary hero Anne of Green Gables its a popular spot for many.
Only we haven’t read the books.
We also found out there’s a $50 fee to cross back across the island to the mainland, plus everything out there is fairly tourist oriented and expensive.
As we planned out driving time (it was a lot), and how much time we had before our Acadia reservations (not enough) we ultimately made the decision to skip it. GASP! I know there are some who would call that lamentable, but we are pretty much okay with it.
The drive from Kouchibouguac to Cape Breton was longer than we liked, so we picked a halfway point in Pictou, NS that served as a logistical stop, easy access to church, AND we got to meet back up with our friends the Erickson’s. Hooray!
“New Brunswick was fabulous (and we’ll be back to visit Bay of Fundy on our way out) but we transitioned into Nova Scotia late Friday evening. Out of all our plans for this trip for some reason this province is the one I’ve been looking forward to most.
So far the rolling farmland reminds me of Idahome only bordered by the sea instead of mountains. I can already tell it’s gonna be good.” -@currentlywandering
Bonus points for finding a fish & chips food truck on the way.
As soon as we pulled into the site right next to our friends, the kids were out and immediately begged for some pool time before it closed for the night.
The following morning we were inspired to join them for a quick walk on the beach “before” the rain started but our timing was a little off. We spent the rest of the day working, getting chores done, and generally enjoying the cooler weather.
We even managed an adult date night dinner at the Korean restaurant AT the campground. How often does that happen?
Sunday afternoon post church, we started the long drive up to Cape Breton Highlands National Park.