History is anything but boring when you are on the road and can explore and experience it first hand. Try reading books about your destination before you arrive to whet your appetite. Consider historical fiction as well as books with the facts. Add living history exhibits to your list of destinations, such as Colonial Williamsburg, VA; Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts; and St. Augustine, Florida - America's oldest city.
History To Go
Timeline -Put a clothesline up around your RV and break it into sections for the time period you want to focus on. As your uncover history during your travels tie an index card to the line with the info and hand drawn pictures.
Take a Ghost Tour to make history truly memorable. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, you'll learn history and hear some fascinating stories!
Track your journey via maps (color coded stickers, highlighters etc).
Stop by the Chamber of Commerce when you arrive. There you will find out about local historical sites and museums. Perhaps self guided tours.
- Order free packets from the state departments of tourism. They will include magazines, maps and coupons for various attractions.
- 50 States - get the facts. What is the name of the state capital? Do you know the state bird, flower, tree, nickname? Need the words to the state song? Can you identify the state flag? Links to Roadside America attractions, famous people, topography and more.
- Use the tourism booklets put out by AAA which can be picked up at any of their offices for free if you are a member. Each volume also includes a basic history for the states it includes as well as short write-ups of major towns and attractions, including hours and prices. And since you are traveling with your house you can save space by ripping out the hotel portion.
- The National Park Service has a wealth of information about their locations on their teacher pages or go to their History and Culture pages
- Cobblestone and American History Magazines can be found at local libraries (What about checking out books from libraries on the road?)
- Factory Tours - Watch It Made in the U.S.A.: A Visitor's Guide to the Best Factory Tours and Company Museums
- The Gutenberg Project has works by our forefathers; available online or downloaded to your PDA.
- There is a great multi-level curriculum called Winter Promise. It is made to work with multiple ages and is centered around history/geography with a timeline component as well. See the American Story.
"As we traveled, we tried to touch on various eras (Colonial, Civil War, Western Expansion, Atomic Age, etc.) in each section of the country. Other ways we organized our thinking included famous people, typical occupations for an area, transportation, and so on. You can't do it all--so focus on the sorts of activities YOUR family finds most appealing."
~ Barb Wagner (FOTR since 2001)
If you are interested in living history you may wish to get involved with the Society for Creative Anachronism which offers kingdoms all over the country. Invest some time into researching and making medieval clothing and wares. Then catch up with other enthusiasts at campouts and enjoy other time warping events.
Or drop by a Renaissance Faire to watch some jousting and visit the entertaining land of Shakespeare.
Historical Fiction Connections
Take a Pirate Cruise in Cape Cod, Massachusetts; Virginia Beach, Virginia; or Florida (several locations).
See Language Arts for book tie-ins.
Reader's Digest has put out some pretty picturesque travel books that you might be able to find at the library that list neat things like where to see the best colors of trees in Vermont in the fall, good (but maybe a bit dated) routes of the areas.
- The Most Scenic Drives in America: 120 Spectacular Road Trips by Robert J. Dolezal
- Road Trip USA: Cross-Country Adventures on America's Two-Lane Highways by Jamie Jensen
- National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways: Second Edition by National Geographic Society
- National Geographic Guide to America's Hidden Corners by National Geographic Society
- Road Trip America: A State-by-State Tour Guide to Offbeat Destinations by Andrew F. Wood
Which Way USA? Is a Book Club series that invites children to take a U.S.A. road trip with a team of explorers, offered by Highlights. Children (ages 7 and up) meet fascinating heroes, visit natural and man-made wonders, and relive great events that shaped the history of the United States - all while solving puzzles and reading maps. Every month you are sent a new book and map for $7.40. Of course if you are traveling and have to have them forwarded, you'll pay twice for shipping.
Dealing with Nay Sayers
by Amy "Independent"
As for those who say "How could you do that," I think of all the things we've seen just since New Year's. Since we travel for work, we don't typically have such an eventful year, but this one's been a real mover ....
Since January we have seen: Three oceans - the Gulf - sugar-sand beaches, the Atlantic - boogie boarding, the Pacific - wet suits, brrrr; wild alligators, Florida manatees, New Orleans, Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Assateague Island Ponies, D.C. and the monuments, Arlington, Eternal Flame, the White House, took the subway, rode busses (that weren't ours); swam in the Mississippi River, visited a Laura Ingall's site, the Corn Palace, the Badlands, Rushmore, Devil's Tower, Medicine Wheel, Yellowstone, Crater Lake, the Redwoods, the Space Needle, Custer's Battlefield, lots of mountain ranges and rivers, lots of people, lots of wildlife. We rescued a hatchling turtle in the Gulf and a sea gull in Oregon. We visited relatives the rest of the family hasn't seen in years - dozens of them.
And the best part? It's only September....
I've left out all the little stuff, which is sometimes better than the big stuff, and we've met many families this year who have done twice as much as we have, seen more and had time to explore deeper. Some have left the country, traveled several countries....
So to those who ask you "How could you do that?" say "How could we not do this?" And, give them a rundown of what you've see/plan to see just this month.
Not everyone has the opportunity to do this, and we may not tomorrow. So we see it while we can. We are so lucky.