{August 15, 2012}   Hands-On History Lesson

It’s not that I haven’t been trying new things for my 47 and fearless project recently. It’s that I’ve been lax in blogging about them. So I’m going to remedy that by writing about several of them this week. (You’ve been warned.)

A few weeks ago, my husband and I spent an afternoon with our boys at Old World Wisconsin in Eagle, Wisconsin. Although it opened in 1976 and my mom even worked there as a costumed interpreter for a time, I’d never been to this amazing outdoor museum.

According to its web site: “Old World Wisconsin’s historic farm and village buildings comprise the world’s largest museum dedicated to the history of rural life. … The museum’s more than 60 historic structures range from ethnic farmsteads with furnished houses and rural outbuildings to a crossroads village with its traditional small-town institutions.”

We arrived on a gorgeous summer day and were lucky to catch the first few innings of a vintage baseball game between the Eagle Diamonds, based on the 1860s Waukesha Diamonds team, and the Lemont Quarrymen from Illinois.

Vintage baseball recreates “the styles, speech, rules and terminology of the 1860s game. It’s not only a competitive game, but also a re-enactment of baseball life, similar to an American Civil War re-enactment.”

Players don’t wear gloves to catch the balls, and after the ball is hit, it can bounce once and be caught to be considered an out.

The home team had a rough first inning, but turned it around in the second inning with more than a dozen runs. Though we didn’t stay until the end, the Diamonds were victorious, winning 31-7.

From there, we explored many of the farms and homes on the nearly 600-acre site. The boys had a great time learning children’s games–including a hoop tossing game called “graces”—at the Crossroads Village and trying their hand at splitting wood and making wooden shingles at the Koepsell Farm in the German area.

We also watched a blacksmith demonstrate his craft, learned how sheep’s wool is spun into yarn, explored a one-room school house, took a peek at different farm animals, used a hand-grinder to grind grain, and toured homes, farms and thriving gardens.

It was a great hands-on way to learn history, and Dylan declared the whole day “awesome!” I can’t argue with that!


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