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