Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Vacation Week Activities in Massachusetts 2011

We have family visiting and I am sure others are looking for activities to enjoy. I will continue to post activities as I find them.

Discovery Museums in Acton have special drop in days planned all week including Lego building days.

Freedom Trails Historic Holiday Stroll provides people with an opportunity to experience the Freedom trail with a holiday focus. Learn more about the traditions as they evolved in Boston.

Higgins Armory Musuem has a week of special events planned for the vacation week.

Boxing Day December 26 at The Old Manse in Concord Get a tour of the house and learn more about the British holiday tradition of Boxing Day.

Old Strubridge Village is having a variety of family friendly events and hands on crafts for children that change daily.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Still time to Ride the Train and See the Lights at Edaville Railroad

While the time has passed this year to see the Sturbridge Village's Christmas Celebration, Edaville's Christmas program continues through January 1. We went the first weekend in December. It was a wonderful trip, I have not made since I was a child.

You can find all the information about dates, prices and the available discounts I located in an article on my blog about the event here.

The train ride is a fun and the house windows are great to explore. The train displays were wonderful to see and a good chance to warm up from the outdoor chill. The only thing we did not try out were the amusement park rides, although it seemed there were plenty of kids enjoying them.

They have kept some of my favorite displays from my childhood. I love the houses you can look in to see the old style moving dolls at work. Some are worse for wear, but they still have that Christmas enchantment at work.

We did feel welcome and we plan to come back next year to enjoy the tradition again.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Last Weekend to Visit Sturbridge Village's Christmas by Candlelight

We went the first weekend and it was an event that will be on our calendar for next year. You can read my blog posting for the event information here.

We arrived before it opened and tried to visit as many of the holiday themed events as we could. Each house had different historical holiday themed activities for adults and children to explore. Music and food were displayed. I now know what it means when they sing about chestnuts roasting on an open fire. I have even had the chance to taste them. I also finally learned what Marzipan looks like and how it is made.

The dinner at the Oliver Wright Tavern was very good and I thought reasonably priced considering what I have paid at other tourist destinations for "fast food." This was a very tasty complete meal and the prices were fair.

If you are going to make the visit, I would suggest dressing warmly for the weather and wearing comfortable shoes. The roads are dirt and lit by actual candle lit lanterns. There is a considerable amount of walking to do in order to see all the activities and venues that are offered.

I loved the nativity scene they created by combining multiple sets. I have never seen some of the sets they created there. Learning about Christmas traditions and listening to the music made for a great holiday event.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Pilgrims of Plimoth

The Pilgrims of Plimoth (Aladdin Picture Books)by Marcia Sewall is not a new addition to picture books available on the Pilgrims, but it is one to consider when studying the Pilgrims. The author uses paintings rather than drawings or photographs to illustrate the story. The story is written in the first person reflecting several points of view.

One of the important reasons to include this book in a study of the Pilgrims is that it includes information that many of the other books leave out. The book discusses the original destination of the Pilgrims, Virginia. It explains how they ended up in New England and ultimately how the colony came to be established in Plimoth. This story helps dispel the myth that the boat arrived and the Pilgrims all stepped off and established a colony. It describes how the Pilgrims lived on the ship and foraged for food. It takes the reader through the evolution of the colony as the Pilgrims tried to build some common structures before the bitter cold of winter hit and the loss of life during that first winter. The book explains to readers how the survivors emerged in the spring with the help of the Native Americans to begin planting crops and building structures.

I did not have a chance to acquire this book when I was purchasing Pilgrim books this year, but it will be on my list for next year.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pilgrims of Plymouth

I am continuing to look for quality children's history books. I came across Pilgrims of Plymouth while searching for a different book at the library. I decided to reserve it to preview prior to purchasing.

This is a book produced by the National Geographic Society. As was done with Samuel Eaton's Day and Sarah Morton's Day the pictures for this book are taken at Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts. This is great for children who have visited and those who live to far away to make the trip.

This book is different in that it is designed for younger readers. It does not focus on individual stories, but it is a general explanation of life at Plimoth for young readers. The vocabulary is fairly simple and approachable for even young children. The pictures make this a good resource for students to develop a picture of what life would have been like for children and adults living at this time. This book will be on my purchase list.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Aztec Holiday Wishes Gift Drive

Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School is holding their annual gift drive to help families in the Hudson and Marlborough Massachusetts area. While there are many holiday gift drives going on in the area, we participate in several, I like this one because it not only provides toys and clothing to children and families in need, it provides students in the business department with the opportunity to plan, organize, and execute their own charitable project.

Students are looking for people to adopt families or to drop off new toys at the front desk of the school that can fulfill wishes they hope to grant. The deadline for toys and clothing is December 7th, but cash donations must be at the school by December 2nd to allow the students time to purchase the items on wish lists left unfilled.

To get information on adopting a family or participating in the program, please contact Donna Groccia or April Kelly at (508) 485-9430 x1446.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sturbridge Village Christmas by Candlelight

I love Christmas and I am always looking for fun ways to get my family out to do Christmas events. I heard about Christmas by Candlelight at Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts and decided this was on our must see list for the holiday season.

I am afraid I have not discovered any discounts for the event yet, but I will update this post if I find any. The event uses the Sturbridge Village setting to provide guests with a historical holiday experience. There are many family friendly events listed on their website. With the warmer weather I am not sure we will get to experience the sleigh ride for our visit, if it snows for the later dates, they do offer sleigh rides as part of the package.

The dates and times for the events are listed below. Check with the website for any changes or updates.
Christmas by Candlelight
December 2 - December 4
December 9 - 11
December 16 - 18
Friday, Saturday & Sunday Evenings
4:00 PM-9:00 PM
The price does vary depending on the days you choose to visit.
Friday & Sunday* ~ $12 OSV Members, $14 Non-members
Saturday ~ $13 OSV Members, $15 Non-members

We also made a reservation at the Oliver Wright Tavern for dinner. You can find out more about that by visiting their website.

We are looking forward to our visit. I will post a review after we have a chance to explore the event.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tapenum's Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times

Tapenum's Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy In Pilgrim Timesis the third book in Kate Water's series on Plimoth Plantation. This title focuses on Tapenum, a Wampanoag boy frustrated because he has not beeen selected to train to become a pniese, a warrior counselor for the tribe. As the author tells his story, readers are introduced to what life was like for the Wampanoag tribe through pictures taken at the Habbamock's Homesite at Plimoth Plantation, in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

This book can be read as a picture book, but also provides valuable information for older readers because of the photographs and attention to detail about life in the Wampanoag tribe. While many complain about the inaccuracies of tepees in books about the Pilgrims, the staff at Plimoth Plantation in accordance with the Wapanoag tribe have insured that Habbamock's Homesite is an accurate reflection of Native American life for visitors to learn more about the tribe.

Plimoth Plantation has wonderful resources for anyone who wants to learn more about the time period. Check out their Thanksgiving Interactive site. Find out more about the Wampanoag Homesite featured in this book here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Samuel Eaton's Day

Samuel Eaton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boyis the second of Kate Water's books I borrowed to review. While it is too late for this year's Thanksgiving purchases, I am always trying to find new books to put on the list. You never know what you might find at sales during the year before I place next year's order.

As with Sarah Morton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl the story uses the real life of a Pilgrim boy as interpreted at Plimoth Plantation to create a picture book for children.

Like Sarah, Samuel has also lost a parent, in his case his mother. He is approaching his first rye harvest with the hope that he can demonstrate his worthiness to be allowed more adult tasks and responsibilities. The two characters meet and greet each other in the book and the books share a similar format. Children are introduced to Samuel's clothing, his chores, and his family life. According to the author's notes, the child that portrayed Samuel in this book was not an interpreter at Plimoth Plantation, although his mother was at the time the book was written in the late 1980's.

I have to reserve the last two books in the series from the library to refresh my memory about them. However, the first two have convinced me to put them on my list of books to acquire.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sarah Morton's Day A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl

I first came across Sarah Morton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl while on a field trip to Plimouth Plantation. The book uses one of the interpreters and the location shots for the illustrations of the story.

While not a new story, the original book was published in 1989, this book retains the ability to introduce children to life in Plimoth Plantation. For students who will be visiting on a field trip or those too far away to ever go, this series of books is a wonderful way to visit through the real life stories being retold by children working as interpreters at the historic site. This story focuses on the real life of Sarah Morton who lives with her Mother and Stepfather. The pictures are taken at Plimoth Plantation using a historical interpreter who works at the site to tell her story.

While the book is often marketed to younger audiences because it is a picture book, the pictures actually do make it valuable for upper elementary students as well. While the story is not complicated it provides valuable information about living conditions, the way children lived, and visual information from the recreations at Plimouth Plantation not always used in other resources for children about this period. One basic issue this book addresses is the stereotypes about the clothing the Pilgrims wore. Plimoth Plantation has done a great deal of work to dispel the myths of the Thanksgiving Pilgrims found on all our decorations. The colored photographs in this book that show children and adults in multi-colored costumes without a buckled hat among them can go even further to help children understand the difference between the myths and facts about the Pilgrims.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Battle of Bunker Hill an Interactive History

There are not a number of books available on the Battle of Bunker Hill for children and The Battle of Bunker Hill: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose Books) (You Choose: History)happens to be a good one. Students are not just presented with the dry, dull facts of the event. They are asked to participate in the event by taking on a role.

Like the previous books I have written about in the series, the book begins with an introduction to the events leading up to the Battle of Bunker Hill. Then readers are presented with three character options. They can be a colonial soldier, a British soldier, or a civilian watching events unfold. As the story unfolds, more choices are made and the reader can see how some choices have major consequences and how others still lead to similar outcomes based on events that individuals can't control.

Just a warning to parents, while death was addressed in the The Boston Massacre: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose: History)title, this is the first book I have read in the series where two of the characters that a reader can choose to follow actually face that outcome depending on the choices selected. As with any book, I suggest you preview it and decide if how you want to approach the topic with your child.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Edaville Railroad Christmas Festival

Edaville Railroad in Carver, MA is opening this Christmas with two different programs for families. There is a twenty minute railroad ride with 12 amusement rides available to the public for $18 dollars for both kids and adults and $16 dollars for seniors.

AAA offers a $2 discount on the children and adult admission prices, but according to their website it is not available on Saturdays during the Christmas festival or on the Days Out With Thomas. There is nothing on the website regarding the Polar Express Train, but I suspect the same restrictions would also apply. Calling ahead would verify your discount options.

For military members there is a military discount available that provides free admission with a military ID to the ID holder and 50% discount to each family member. Carver residents are being offered a BOGO option. (Buy one get one free)

The dates for the Christmas Festival are:
Dec. 1-4, 7-11
Dec. 14-January 1
(Closed Christmas Day)
Weekdays 4pm-9pm
Weekends 2pm-9pm

More information can be found on their website.

Edaville is also offering parents and children a Polar Express adventure. The dates for this special train trip are:

November 18,19, 20, 28, 29 & 30
December 5, 6, 12, 13, 24 & 31

The train times are currently listed as 4:30pm, 5:30pm, 6:30pm and 7:30pm

Prices are $30 for adults and children and it is suggested that you buy tickets early as they expect them to go quickly.

You can find out more about this option on their website here.

This was one of my favorite places to visit as a child and I am glad it is available for kids to see again. I am in the process of trying to get family interest generated to make a trip down this Christmas season.

Pictures may not be used without written permission.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Three Young Pilgrims

I have been previewing Pilgrim books to add to my Thanksgiving box and came across Three Young Pilgrimsthrough our library network. While this book may not make this year's purchase list, it will be on next year's list.

This picture book focuses on telling the story of the Pilgrim's journey to the New World and their life here through one family's experience. Bartholomew, Remember, and Mary Allerton arrive in Plymouth and face many challenges.

The best parts of this book are the beautiful illustrations and the maps that provide extra information that the prose does not. The maps add details and added specific information that does not quite fit into the family's story.

While this is written as a picture book, this could be a good teaching tool for older elementary students if approached in the right way. A discussion about the additional information, the illustrations, and the characters can make this a much-needed addition to many dry textbooks that are on the market. However, it is also a perfect match for the target audience of primary readers that generally study the Pilgrims.

I will be putting this on my search list for next year's Thanksgiving mailing.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Boston Massacre an Interactive History

The Boston Massacre: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose: History)is another book I borrowed from the library prior to purchasing for Christmas this year. Like the previous stories in this series, the reader is given a background of the events leading up to the event and three characters to choose from in following the story.

This story starts with the background information of the Stamp Act, the formation of the Sons of Liberty, the Stamp Act protests, and the arrival of British troops to keep the peace in Boston. Readers are provided with three character choices to follow the adventures through the book, a 13-year-old wig maker's apprentice, a British soldier, or the role of John Hancock's maid.

The story then walks the reader through the events of the Boston Massacre through each characters experience, giving the reader options to make choices and see how those choices alter the outcomes along the path. What I found interesting and an important lesson was in some cases you could not change the outcome. Despite your best intentions, bad things still happen. This is historically accurate, but also an important life lesson illustrated for kids in a practical setting. The British soldier's life provides another side to the story that is often missed in the retelling of the Boston Massacre. The author gives his character the temptation of deserting and the life the options that would come with that or staying loyal and all the choices that come for a soldier with that option.

The book ends with a summary of events that happened after the Boston Massacre.

I was pleased this topic was one the series decided to approach. The Boston Massacre is a great example of how choices have consequences. It also demonstrates that events sometimes do end up overtaking the ability of people to avoid them. Regardless of our own wishes and choices, sometimes other’s choices prevent us from changing our outcome.

I continue to be impressed with the possibilities for this series to engage and encourage children's interest in history.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Revised Halloween Trick or Treat Schedule Metro West Massachusetts

This is by no means a complete schedule. Feel free to leave a note and I will make changes if people add any.

Thursday,November 3

Friday,November 4

Saturday, November 5

Monday, November 7

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Revolutionary War An Interactive History

As I have mentioned in several previous blogs I have been trying to locate history books that present accurate, but interesting presentations of American history to children with the hope that they will actually engage in learning it.

The Revolutionary War: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose: History) provides an interesting format for learning about the time period of the American Revolution. I thought the introduction was rushed. However, I did like the format of allowing children to choose a path and follow it through the story making choices and following those outcomes.

Three original paths are provided to the reader, the daughter of a colonial militia captain, a young Connecticut Patriot who chooses to fight, and a loyalist who sides with Great Britain.

The girl is presented with original choices of following her father to war to care for him or staying with her mother to care for the family. That original choice provides the next choices available to the reader. The young Connecticut Patriot must choose between joining the Continental Army or going to sea and becoming a privateer. The loyalist lives near Charleston, South Carolina. He is presented with the options of staying on his father's plantation or joining his Uncle's business in Charleston. Once the reader chooses the character to follow, additional choices are presented and the reader follows the path that these choices create.

Years ago, we tried to create these types of scenarios manually for history units and it was a great deal of work. I think this book would work wonderfully as an independent book for parents who want their children to understand the different perspectives and choices people made during the Revolution. I think homeschooling parents would also find it an asset for their educational purposes. However, I also think this book has specific applications in the classroom or group setting. This book would be a great choice for a cross unit literature circle. It would make a great gateway to discussing cause and effect, choices and consequences of choices. Children could meet in-group with students that represented all three paths and meet with students from their own paths to discuss the various choices and consequences.

This is not a book that will teach children important dates and times. However, it does add a layer of perspective that is often lacking in the books that do teach those concepts. This helps kids to look at how people approached the event from an individual life experience, not a homogenous group. History books often group people without teaching children that even in groups of people those people are individuals, not identical clones.

After previewing the library copy, this book made it to my Christmas giving list for this year.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Dreadful, Smelly, Colonies

I came across the Fact Finders Disgusting History series and decided to preview The Dreadful, Smelly Colonies: The Disgusting Details About Life in Colonial America (Disgusting History)prior to purchasing it. It sounded like it would be similar to the You Wouldn't Want series in providing an entertaining but informative look at American history for children. However, I have bought on impulse and been disappointed with the outcomes. This would have been a good impulse purchase.

Unlike the You Wouldn't Want series, this book uses more realistic drawings and photographs to illustrate the topic. While the title is designed to be shocking, the information is accurate and factual. The first section of the book discusses the shelters that were built when settlers arrived in the various areas of the country and why those shelters were chosen. The author discusses topics like disease, insects in your food, and the building of privies for bathrooms.

The book also addresses indentured servants and the fact that slaves originally could purchase their freedom until laws were changed that took away that possibility. This is an area not often discussed in history texts for children, which made it an interesting choice to add to my purchases for Christmas.

Challenges with diseases, travel, and the relationship with Native populations are not ignored in this book. For a short book that could pass as a picture book from the outside, it covers a good deal of historical information in an appealing format for children. While I passed on it when purchasing some other books, I will be adding this to my list of Colonial History books to pick up for Christmas.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Inside Story

The Sisters Grimm: Book Eight: The Inside Story moves the story beyond the Everafter War as we left off with the Master having fled into the Book of Everafter. The Sisters Grimm realize they do not have time to wait for Granny Relda and the rest of the family and dive in after him.

The premise of this story was an interesting one. I was looking forward to seeing the kids chase the Master through the pages of children's literature to rescue their baby brother. Unfortunately, this story was not as well executed as previous efforts. Buckley's strength has been his ability to blend multiple characters from children's literature with humor and an integrated plot to hold the reader's interest. In this latest novel, it almost seemed as if Buckley was trying to cram as many character and story references into the story with little interest in plot or humor that was a strength of his previous novels.

The main source of humor in this book is Puck constantly teasing Sabrina about their future marriage after Sabrina finally tells him about her trip to the future. While this is cute, it is not nearly as amusing as the stories provided in previous novels.

The last two books in this series have turned darker. The resolution to the Master's plan leaves the girls with gaining one relative while losing another. The next novel is rumored to be released in May of 2012. I hope Buckley finds a way to advance his plot and return to the humor of his previous stories.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

You Wouldn't Want to be an American Colonist

You Wouldn't Want to Be an American Colonist!is the first book in this series I've read that was not written by Peter Cook. This book focuses on the Virginian settlements of Roanoke and Jamestown. While Cook provides the reader with an identity, Ms. Morley does not continue this tradition. However, she does provide readers with the interesting tidbits and travel tips I enjoyed from Cook's books in the series.

I haven't found many resources for young readers on the Virginian colonies. This book is accessible for young readers and will appeal to intermediate readers with the humor and cartoons.

I have decided that I will be purchasing this book along with You Wouldn't Want to Sail on the Mayflower!: A Trip That Took Entirely Too Long and You Wouldn't Want to Be at the Boston Tea Party!: Wharf Water Tea You'd Rather Not Drinkas gifts for a younger family member. I think these books will be great additions to the history library I have been building for the family.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Everafter War

The Sisters Grimm: Book Seven: The Everafter War takes a slightly different direction than the previous novels. Charming is determined to defeat the Red Hand's army and as the title states the book focuses on the war of the Everafters.

The previous novel ends with a cliffhanger. This novel picks up with the cliffhanger teasing readers with a revelation about the identity of the master only to hold off revealing the information until the very end.

While this book advances the plot of the series, the seriousness of the plot removes much of the humor found in the previous novels. The Everafters face losing one of their beloved characters close to the Grimms.

All is not easy for Sabrina and her parents. Her dream since the series began is to have her parents back. While her parents are back, they are not the parents she remembers and the children are not the children her parents left in New York. The conflicts only create more frustration for Sabrina with life in Ferryport landing.

I will admit to being surprised when the Master's identity was revealed. I had a different suspect in mind. It did create an interesting set up for The Sisters Grimm: Book Eight: The Inside Story. I am impressed that Buckley has managed to maintain the quality of the series over length of this series.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Canobie Lake Park Screemfest

Canobie Lake Park is extending the park season with a haunted park that will run weekends Fridays-Sundays during October. You can check the schedule here for dates and hours as they vary.

General admission is $27.99. The website lists locations where one can find a $4 coupon. Check the details as there are restriction on using the coupon on Saturdays.

AAA's website is no longer listing a discount for Canobie Lake so I suspect that the discount was only good for the traditional season. I will look for it again next spring and post the details. They are however offering discounts for Six Flags Of New England's Fright Fest.

While most of the park is focused on older children and adults, the park has transformed Kiddie Land into Pumpkin Palace for the entertainment of the younger crowd. Guests are not allowed to wear costumes in the park. Those who wish can purchase a Monster 'b Gone Necklace to avoid hauntings from park personnel.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tales from the Hood

The Sisters Grimm: Book Six: Tales from the Hood made me laugh right from the start. Mr. Canis is on trial for his crimes and Granny must find a lawyer to defend him. Michael Buckley brings in another character from classic literature by introducing the Sherwood Group. Yes, Robin Hood has become a civil attorney dedicated to attacking corporations. After some urging, he agrees to take on the Sherriff of Nottingham and takes the case.

As the book continues, we learn more of the background of Mr. Canis, the wolf and a woodcutter. We also learn that there is a connection between Red Riding Hood and Mr. Canis that the fairy tale does not hint as the future of Mr. Canis hangs in the balance. We learn more about what Charming has been up to while undercover at the Red Hand.

The story has a cliffhanger as the identity of the master is about to be announced as the story concludes.

I already have requests from adults and children to put this series on my Christmas purchase list.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Marlborough Haunted House Food Drive

If you are looking for a fun Halloween event for your family the Levy Family and the Marlborough Lions Club are hosting an outdoor Haunted House display every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in October from 6-10PM. Visitors are asked to donate non-perishable food or personal care items as the price of admission. The Haunted House can be found at 61 O'Grady Road in Marlborough, Massachusetts.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

You Wouldn't Want to Sail on the Mayflower

You Wouldn't Want to Sail on the Mayflower!: A Trip That Took Entirely Too Longis part of a history series published by Scholastic. I wrote about You Wouldn't Want to Be at the Boston Tea Party!: Wharf Water Tea, You'd Rather Not Drink in a previous blog. While the series has different authors, Peter Cook wrote both these.

This story also uses cartoons and humor to introduce children to the story of the Pilgrim's journey to the New World. As in the previous story, the reader is provided with an identity to help engage with the story. In this case, the readers are told they are a girl making the trip with her parents and brother.

I was impressed that the author attempted to provide historical accuracy. He used the word separatists as the name the Pilgrims were more commonly known as for their religious beliefs. The information on the voyage and life in the colonies is more detailed then some of the picture books available for children.

I have another book to preview before making my purchasing choices for Christmas. So far, I think these books will be on my Christmas list.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Marlborough Heritage Festival

This Sunday, October 2 the City of Marlborough and the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce will be hosting the 16th Annual Marlborough Heritage Festival from 10AM-3PM. You can preview the event at their website. While not a fan of chowder, the contest being one of the larger draws, there are lots of other things to see. There are children's activities, music, entertainment, vendors, and a food court for visitors. The City will be returning with the trucks for children to explore.

Those not attending should be aware that traffic will be diverted around the fair area so alternative plans should be made for Sunday. Main Street is closed to on the day of the Festival between Rt. 85 and Florence Street.

This event is not as large as some of the other town days in the area, but it is one of Marlborough's main events. I have read about this festival for years, even before its name change. We have always had a scheduling conflict. This year we our schedule is free and we have decided to check it out.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Six Flags New England Fright Fest

I have several friends, family, and fellow bloggers looking for ways to have fun and save money. Here is another outing that that has ways to save.

Six Flags is offering New England a haunted amusement park experience every weekend in October including Columbus Day. Daytime activities are designed to be more family friendly with evening hours designed to provide a more scary Halloween adventure. The schedule is available here. You can check out their attractions here. The park does not allow costumes during fright fest for safety reasons.

Ticket Prices at the Park

General Admission $46.99
Child Under 48″ $36.99
2 & Under FREE
Parking $20
There are additional costs for many of the attractions.

AAA is offering discounts for the event. Member can buy advanced tickets from the AAA office or online. The tickets must be bought from AAA in advance to get the discount. Members will not get the discount at the gate. Tickets bought in advance are $28 for admission and $13 for parking.

AAA Club Deal Night is Friday October 14 from 6:30-11:30PM. Members can buy tickets at AAA. Tickets and parking are included for $35. This is offered through AAA's Club Deals.

Six Flags is running a contest to win free tickets. People must sign up for the newsletter to win. Newsletter subscribers are promised advanced information of offers and deals for this and future Six Flags events.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

You Wouldn't Want to be at the Boston Tea Party

I came across You Wouldn't Want to Be at the Boston Tea Party!: Wharf Water Tea, You'd Rather Not Drink while searching for some Pilgrim resources to send with a Thanksgiving package. This title popped up during my search and I put it on reserve at the library to review.

I am always on the lookout for history books that are accurate and entertaining for children. I have a young homeschooling relative that has developed an interest in the American Revolution, so I have been exploring resources that will provide accurate information in a way that is accessible and hopefully entertaining.

This series is unique in my experience in that it is not written by one author, but a series of author's using the same basic title, You wouldn't want. It reminds me a great deal of the Travelers Guides I reviewed earlier. It is entertaining, but provides children with quite a bit of information about the topic.

While the title of this book is the Boston Tea Party, the book focuses on the roots of the conflicts between the colonists and the British and the first event covered is the Boston Massacre, not the Boston Tea Party. The book continues through the Tea Party, the Intolerable Acts, the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the Revolution, and the resolution of the war.

The series uses cartoons and short chapters to present the information. Little tidbits are offered in side pictures and commentaries. The book invites children into the time period by inviting them to participate in the story as George Robert Twelves, a 31 year old shoemaker preparing himself to participate in the Boston Tea Party. Each chapter directly addresses the reader telling them what their actions as George Twelve were during the events discussed in that chapter. I wish they had Paul Revere's cartoon yelling the Regulars are out instead of the British are coming, but I did find there was more information on the Boston Massacre and the Bunker Hill for this age group than I have found in previous books.

I have two other American History books from this series on reserve at the library to review prior to purchasing. If they are of the same quality, I think a set of three will be making their way to family for Christmas this year.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wright on Time Arizona

I read about the Wright on Time, Book 1: Arizona on a homeschool blog and wanted to check it out for a family member that homeschools. The Kane Chronicles is the only other children's series I have come across recently that mentions homeschooled children and it is a more advanced series. This series is an early chapter book series that focuses on a family that travels across the country in an RV.

The first story finds the children in Arizona exploring caves. The author provides a vocabulary rich exploration of rocks and minerals while the children are visiting a vacation site their father intends to write an article on after their visit. The cave owner provides visitors with the opportunity to hunt in salted areas that will have items to discover and to do explorations in designated areas to see what they can locate. During one such exploration, the children discover something that the author promises will return as a thread in the second novel.

Do to the fact the books have not been picked up by Scholastic or one of the other large publishing houses, the book prices are not inexpensive for paperback early reader novels. I am going to see if I can find the second one at the library before purchasing the set to see if the thread continues in an interesting way. I find the characters interesting and the idea of homeschooling characters appealing for the audience I intend to purchase these books for as gifts. However, the plots will determine if the children will read the books, no matter how much they may want to read about other homeschoolers.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Peter and the Starcatchers

I am always curious about prequels and sequels that written using classic characters. Peter and the Starcatchers is a prequel to J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan novel.

Peter and the Starcatchers is the first book in series that provides a new background for Peter's origins, how he arrived in Never Land and where he met his fairy companion. This book launches a series that discusses the history of Wendy's family and their relationship with Peter prior to the Barrie's Peter Pan story.

The first story in the series was creative. Since it is different from Barrie's original this is a great opportunity to teach kids about compare and contrast. I provided a link below that lists some of the changes. Instead of providing manufactured sheets to teach the concept, I love to see kids reading literature that presents situations that are ideal for these kinds of lessons.

I have Peter and the Shadow Thieves on reserve at the library. We will see if the quality of the series continues past the original novel.

Teaching Links:


Comparison Between Original Storyline and This Novel

Free Teaching Guide 1

Free Teaching Guide 2

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sudbury Colonial Faire

Saturday, September 24 from 10AM-4PM, the Sudbury Companies of Militia and the Minute and Sudbury Ancient Fyfe and Drum Companie are hosting the annual Colonial Faire and Muster of Fyfes and Drums at the Wayside Inn in Sudbury, MA. Additional information can be found at Sudbury Minuteman and Sudbury Ancients websites. Admission is $1.00 for adults, with free admission for children under 12.

There are children's activities in the morning. There will be a contra dance demonstration at 10:30 with colonial militia drills at 11:00. Guests are told to expect a disruption of the drill from British regular troops that will create something of an issue between the two groups. After peace resumes a parade of fyfe and drum companies will begin at noon forming near the Grist Mill and marching to the Wayside Inn. Once arriving at the Inn the groups will play over the course of the afternoon.

Guests can see militia groups that represent both colonists and King's troops. Interpreters will be providing demonstrations in cooking, blacksmithing, woodworking, and medicine, as they would have occurred in colonial times. Children's games will also be available.

My husband and I have wanted to attend this event for several years. However, we have always had a conflict. We really enjoyed our exploration of local history this summer and decided we are going to make it this year. If you live locally this can be a wonderful way to experience living history and engage your family with a fun inexpensive day of history.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Magic and Other Misdemeanors

Magic and Other Misdemeanors is the fifth book in Michael Buckley's Sisters Grimm series. This book is the first book I have read in a while that has made me want to run down to the library before my traditional Saturday outing to get the next book.

Buckley introduces a traditional science fiction and fantasy element the fifth book using time travel to create some interesting challenges for our characters. At the end of the previous novel, we learned that Prince Charming was missing. In this book, the children discover where Charming has been since the end of the previous book. They also discover the dark future that awaits Ferryport Landing if they do not solve the mystery that currently eludes them. Charming's experience in the future leads him to make some decisions about what needs to be done when he returns. He convinces the children not to tell anyone about where they have been or what they have learned. Sabrina is a bit unsure about her marital choice and Charming's willingness to expose it keeps her silent. Their inability to find a solution to Mr. Canis' future also keeps them quiet. They cannot face telling their friend about the horrors he faces.

Eventually the future meets the present and the girls realize that while they have changed the future, the future has not necessarily improved. As the Queen of Hearts and the Sheriff of Nottingham persecute the residents of Ferryport, the Grimms are the lone human holdouts left at the end of the novel. While Granny struggles to return an ancestor to the past to avoid being erased from the present, more evidence about the spread of the Scarlett Hand among the Ever After population is revealed. The cliffhanger regarding Charming left me wanting to make a trip to the library Wednesday. However, patience is a virtue. I will wait until Saturday to pick up the next two books and Monday to begin listening to them.

There are only eight books in print with the final book nine due out in the spring of 2012. Buckley is publishing The Sisters Grimm: A Very Grimm Guide a series summary in January of 2012. I am not as interested in the guide, but I will be waiting for that final book to come out to read the conclusion to the Grimm sisters' adventures.
This series is one I plan to introduce to younger family members this Christmas.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

American History Book List

I was asked for a list of non-fiction and historical fiction books for Colonial and American history for elementary students. Instead of making a list an emailing it I decided to write it on my blog so I can update it and change it as I need to without having to search for the email. Sometimes a blog makes a great bulletin board. Updated June 2018

Around the World in a Hundred Years: From Henry the Navigator to Magellan

Christopher Columbus (Step into Reading)

Exploring the New World: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose: History)

Pedro's Journal: A Voyage with Christopher Columbus, August 3, 1492-February 14, 1493

Who Was Christopher Columbus?

Colonial America:

The Adventurous Life of Myles Standish and the Amazing-but-True Survival Story of Plymouth Colony: Barbary Pirates, the Mayflower, the First ... Much, Much More (Cheryl Harness Histories)

Blood on the River: James Town, 1607

The First Thanksgiving (Step-Into-Reading, Step 3)

Colonial America: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose: Historical Eras)

The Dreadful, Smelly Colonies: The Disgusting Details About Life in Colonial America (Disgusting History)

The Double Life of Pocahontas

If You Lived In Colonial Times

If You Lived In Williamsburg in Colonial Days

. . . If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620

If You Were At The First Thanksgiving

If You Were Me and Lived in...Colonial America: An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time (Volume 9)

Mayflower 1620: A New Look at a Pilgrim Voyage

My Journey Aboard the Mayflower (My Place in History)

My Life in the American Colonies (My Place in History)

My Life in the Plymouth Colony (My Place in History)Review here

Pilgrims: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House #27: Thanksgiving on Thursday

Pilgrims Of Plymouth Review here

Sam Collier and the Founding of Jamestown (On My Own History)

Samuel Eaton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim BoyReview here

Sarah Morton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl (Scholastic Bookshelf)Review here

Tapenum's Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy In Pilgrim TimesReview here

Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation (Time-Traveling Twins)Review here

The First Thanksgiving (Picture Puffin Books)

The Mystery of the Roanoke Colony (Graphic History)Review here

The Pilgrims of Plimoth (Aladdin Picture Books)Review here

The Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving (Graphic History)Review here

The Story of Jamestown (Graphic History)Review here

The Thanksgiving Story

The True Story of Pocahontas (Step-Into-Reading, Step 3)

The Voyage of the Mayflower (Graphic History)Review here

Three Young Pilgrims Review here

What Was the First Thanksgiving?

You Wouldn't Want to Be an American Colonist!Review here

You Wouldn't Want to Sail on the Mayflower!: A Trip That Took Entirely Too Long Review here

Revolutionary War:

A Picture Book of Paul Revere (Picture Book Biographies)Review here

A Spy in the King's Colony (Mysteries in Time (Silver Moon Press))Review here

Alexander Hamilton: A Plan for America (I Can Read Level 2)

At Battle in the Revolutionary War: An Interactive Battlefield Adventure (You Choose: Battlefields)

At the Battle of Yorktown: An Interactive Battlefield Adventure (You Choose: American Battles) Review here

Boston Tea Party Review here

Building a New Nation: An Interactive American Revolution Adventure (You Choose: Founding the United States)

DK Eyewitness Books: American Revolution

American Revolution: A Nonfiction Companion to Revolutionary War on Wednesday (Magic Tree House Research Guide Series)

And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? (Paperstar)

The Battle of Bunker Hill: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose Books) (You Choose: History)Review here

Ben and Me: An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin by His Good Mouse AmosReview here

Day of Glory: The Guns at Lexington and ConcordReview here

Fighting for Independence: An Interactive American Revolution Adventure (You Choose: Founding the United States)

George the Drummer Boy (I Can Read Level 3)

George Washington's Socks (Time Travel Adventures)Review here

George Washington's Spy (Time Travel Adventures)Review here

George vs. George: The American Revolution As Seen from Both Sides

Guns for General Washington: A Story of the American Revolution Review here

I Survived the American Revolution, 1776 (I Survived 15)

If You Lived At The Time Of The American Revolution

. . . If You Were There When They Signed the Constitution

It's Treason, by George! (Secret Smithsonian Adventures)

Joining the Boston Tea Party (The Time-Traveling Twins)Review here

Lafayette! (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales 8): A Revolutionary War Tale

Let It Begin Here!: April 19, 1775: The Day the American Revolution Began Review here

Let It Begin Here!: Lexington & Concord: First Battles of the American Revolution Review here

Liberty!: How the Revolutionary War Began (Landmark Books)

Mr. Revere and I: Being an Account of certain Episodes in the Career of Paul Revere,Esq. as Revealed by his Horse Review here

My Brother Sam Is Dead

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy Review here

Paul Revere's Midnight Ride Review here

Paul Revere's Ride (Graphic History)Review here

Paul Revere's Ride (Step into Reading)

Resisting British Rule: An Interactive American Revolution Adventure (You Choose: Founding the United States)

Shh! We're Writing the Constitution

The Boston Massacre: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose: History)Review here

The Boston Massacre (Graphic History)Review here

The Boston Tea Party (Graphic History)Review here

The Colonists Revolt: An Interactive American Revolution Adventure (You Choose: Founding the United States)

The Creation of the U.S. Constitution (Graphic History) Review here

The Founding Fathers Were Spies!: Revolutionary War (Secrets of American History)

The Minute Boys of Bunker Hill (w/glossary)Review here

The Minute Boys of Lexington Review here

The Revolutionary War: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose: History) Review here

The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution (The Thrifty Guides) Review here

Sam the Minuteman (I Can Read Level 3)

Saving the Liberty Bell (On My Own History)

Sophia's War: A Tale of the Revolution

What Was the Boston Tea Party?

What Is the Constitution? (What Was?)

What Is the Declaration of Independence? (What Was?)

Where Was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May?

Who Was Ben Franklin?

Who Was Betsy Ross?

Who Was George Washington?

Who Was Paul Revere?

Who Was Thomas Jefferson?


Will You Sign Here, John Hancock?

Winter at Valley Forge (Graphic History)Review here

You Wouldn't Want to Be at the Boston Tea Party!: Wharf Water Tea You'd Rather Not Drink Review here

Westward Expansion:

Alamo All-Stars (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales 6)

How We Crossed The West: The Adventures Of Lewis And Clark

My Life As a Pioneer (My Place in History)

My Wagon Train Adventure (My Place in History)

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party

National Geographic Readers: Sacagawea (Readers Bios)

The Oregon Trail: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose: History)
Roughing It on the Oregon Trail (The Time-Traveling Twins)Review here

What Was the Lewis and Clark Expedition? (What Was?)

Westward Expansion: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose: History)

Civil War:
National Geographic Readers: Abraham Lincoln (Readers Bios)

At Battle in the Civil War: An Interactive Battlefield Adventure (You Choose: Battlefields)

Escape North! The Story of Harriet Tubman (Step-Into-Reading, Step 4)
I Survived the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863 (I Survived 7)

My Journey on the Underground Railroad (My Place in History)

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Big Bad Ironclad!

The Civil War: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose: History)

The Underground Abductor (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales 5): An Abolitionist Tale about Harriet Tubman

The Underground Railroad: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose: History)

What Was the Battle of Gettysburg?

What Was the Underground Railroad?

Who Was Abraham Lincoln?

You Wouldn't Want to Be a Civil War Soldier!

Ellis Island:

Ellis Island: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose: History)

The Memory Coat Review here

The Orphan Of Ellis Island (Time Travel Adventures)Review here

If Your Name Was Changed At Ellis Island

My Journey Through Ellis Island (My Place in History)

National Geographic Readers: Ellis Island

What Was Ellis Island?


The Wrong Wrights (Secret Smithsonian Adventures) Review here


If You Lived When Women Won Their Rights Review here

World War I:

Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales 4): A World War I Tale

Where Poppies Grow: A World War I Companion

World War II:
The Attack on Pearl Harbor: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose: History) 

Across the Blue Pacific: A World War II Story Review here

DK Eyewitness Books: World War II

Secret Agents! Sharks! Ghost Armies!: World War II (Secrets of American History)

I Survived the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941 (I Survived 4)

Raid of No Return (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales 7): A World War II Tale of the Doolittle Raid

What Was D-Day?

This is a good start. I can add more as time continues. These are popular titles. Look for them at used book sales, yard sales, and other places people sell children's books. You can often find them in near new condition. Good hunting.