Monday, September 4, 2017

Age of Revolution: Pilgrims Come to America

The Age of Revolution:
Europe and Colonial America

To the New World
"Many Hands Make Light Work"


In this first month of Age of Revolution, we covered: Separatists, Jamestown, Pilgrims, and Plymouth. 

The Puritans in England wanted to worship purely - not as the Catholics or Anglicans - but the Separatists, who were similar to Puritans, organized to separate completely from the Church of England. King James I persecuted the Separatists, and a group of them left for Holland, where they could worship freely. But after so many years in Holland, the Separatists saw that their children were losing connection with their English heritage. 


Thanks to years of discovery of the New World, England had decided to get in on exploration and settlement, but instead of searching for the Northwest Passage to the West Indies, Sir Walter Raleigh convinced Queen Elizabeth to make North America their West Indies. The first settlement at Roanoke (modern day North Carolina) was lost, and the second settlement, Jamestown in Virginia, barely survived.  (It's a long story.) It was this colony that spurred the Separatists to pursue religious freedom in the New World.


Now the Separatists decided to become Pilgrims on a journey to America where they would be able to worship freely but still raise their children in the English way. It was so important to keep their English heritage that they even rejected a free ride to New York offered by the Dutch. 

In September, 1620, 35 Separatists joined 67 entrepreneurs and sailors aboard the Mayflower. The original plan was to go to Virginia, but 66 days later, they landed at Cape Cod and settled in Plymouth (Massachusetts). When God is in control, you don't always get what you planned. And because they were not in Virginia, they drew up the Mayflower Compact so that no one would be a law unto himself, but rather accountable to those in authority.

The first three years were a hardship for the Pilgrims and the entrepreneurs who stayed with them. Early on they had met two Native Americans, Samoset and Squanto, who were valuable because they knew English and were interpreters to the local Indians. They even entered into a peace treaty with one tribe, which proved many years of peace for the Indians and settlers in that area. Nonetheless, many of the settlers died from sickness, but they always had food, which they were grateful for. After an entire year, the Pilgrims set aside a day of Thanksgiving, thanking God for supplying all their needs and sustaining them. 

Later, Samoset disappeared from history, but Squanto remained. He once caused trouble with the local tribe and tried to manipulate a conflict; the native king, Massasoit, expected the settlers to turn Squanto over for retribution, but the settlers relied so much on Squanto's aid that they were able to mediate a resolution to save Squanto's life.

Finally, the settlers set up a common store in which each family or individual must contribute the outcome of their work, and then food would be redistributed equally. The problem was that not all worked equally, and some were down right lazy. To solve the problem, families were assigned plots of land (each according to need) and kept the results of their labor. As a consequence, all worked harder, and food production increased. Hmm, sound familiar?


The strictly religious Plymouth Colony took on more and more Separatists from England each year, and prospered and grew; however, they were nothing in number compared to the Puritans who settled north of Plymouth, with the Massachusetts Colony. But more on that next month.


Since there was no early American literature in the 1600s, I instead chose to read what was very popular during that period, in Europe: The Adventures of Don Quixote, by Argentina Palacios. Well, this was a child's version, obviously. Don Quixote is about the size of a Bible, and I only had three weeks to read. This is a perfect story to introduce ideals, such as truth, honor, and adventure.

Next month (beginning now) we are focusing on the birth of the thirteen original colonies, the Puritans, and an introduction to Native Americans.  

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Colonial Journals

Every year we make journals.  Last year we had log books to record our journey through our Exploration year.  This year I have not totally decided what to call these journals, but they are probably going to be colonial journals.

First I used this 9 X 12 art pad.

We picked out several different faux leather fabrics from Hobby Lobby, along with leather cord.

Then I employed the crafty teen to cut and hot glue the fabric to the covers.

We left extra fabric to overlap the front cover, which I cut into an unnatural diagonal.  We cut a hole into the flap and threaded the cord, wrapped it around a few times, and then tied it closed.    

And there you go.  Nothing fancy.  I even have one for my very own.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Hiking: Sturtevant Falls Trail in San Gabriel Mountains, in California

Another awesome hike [Sturtevant Falls Trail] with our hiking partners (who actually lead this whole hiking project; if it wasn't for them, we probably wouldn't be hiking).  This was not a long hike, but the last quarter mile back is uphill, and it took much mental encouragement.  The trail follows a little stream and leads to a waterfall.  There was enough water for the kids to submerge themselves and get drenched, though it was hot enough for them to be dry before we got to the car.  This was a good hike, and we plan to revisit it in the spring when there should be more water.  Awesome!

Seriously, it was this green because of the water.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Field Trip: Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge, California

Finally, we were able to visit the Descanso Gardens, which I had been planning to do for the last six months.  My final opinion is that it is not comparable to the amazing Huntington Library or even Los Angeles Arboretum, but my kids said they enjoyed it and were grateful we went.  

It has paths and streams, lakes and trees, and plenty of places to sit and read a book; but being that it is the middle of the horrid southern California summer, there were few flowers, and everything was brown or dying, which reminded me too much of my own backyard in the desert.  Why drive 1 1/2 hours when I can step outside my backdoor for a few minutes.  Then again, I do not have streams with cute turtles, and even trees that give off shade.

And did I say, it was so awfully hot that I was sweating just standing in the shade of a tree?  But I digress.  

The best part - the very best part of all - was running into some friends that moved away a few years ago.  It was a total unexpected surprise, and it made the trip well worth it.  So it was a very good trip, indeed.