Giving our children an education that they could never receive sitting in a classroom at a desk has been what our adventure is all about. There are so many amazing places to see and things to experience in this country that it makes homeschooling so easy. The best part about it is that we are learning all this great stuff together. We have now taken them to half of the state capitols in the country and to countless museums both large and small. The learning never stops and what I love is that my children are so excited about learning and tell me how much they like to learn new things; something I think every parent wants to hear. Our travels have recently brought us into the first of our New England states and we experienced another first which was visiting back to back state capitols. Most of these northern states are pretty small which made it easy for us to visit both Hartford and Providence from the same camp. We made our home in Connecticut for a week and explored the area.
Charlie Brown Campground was nicely located almost exactly between Hartford and Providence which made it a great choice, not to mention it had a playground (always a bonus with the kids) and a great weekly deal. The sites were open, but easy to get in and out of as well as spread out some. They had power, water, and a grey water hookup (no black water dumping), this was new to us and we had to get a hose adapter, but it worked out just fine. The campground had a swimming area on the creek, a pond for catch and release fishing, and the kids had a great time catching frogs too! We had some really nice neighbors and the kids, as usual, even made a few friends. It can be tough for them sometimes when they never see the same friends for very long, but I think it makes them appreciate the time they do get with other kids and they meet so many different types of people of different ages. We are always pleased to find a nice family friendly campground and Charlie Brown is definitely one we would visit again if we were in the area.
Visiting the state houses (or capitol buildings depending on the state you are in) is a great way to learn about a state and they are always free to tour which can be a plus for a traveling family. Most of the time people learn about the state they are from or the state they live in, but we have gotten the chance to learn a little bit about every state we have been in. Our children have been learning geography and state capitals by visiting them. The state house in Rhode Island was small, but it was beautiful. The dome is the fourth largest unsupported marble dome in the world and is definitely worth seeing. On the outside it is surrounded by four smaller domes which is a nice effect. We learned about how Rhode Island got started by a man named Roger Williams because he was not able to practice religion the way he wanted to in Massachusetts. Another interesting fact we learned was the official name of Rhode Island is Rhode Island and Providence Plantations and that it’s state motto is hope; so it is the smallest state with the longest name and the shortest state motto. The state house of Connecticut is a bit larger than that of Rhode Island. It resembles a church and is very grand both inside and out. The tour begins in the legislative building and is connected by a tunnel to the state house itself. In the rotunda you will find a very large bronze statue of an angel. There used to be an angel called the genius of Connecticut, sitting on top of the dome until they had to take it down because of a hurricane rendering it unsafe. The new statue is now there in the rotunda waiting to take its place back on top of the dome when the state can raise money or get funding to do so. The building was designed by a man that also designed churches which is probably why I thought it resembled a church when I first saw it. The senate chamber was amazing and may even rival the one found in our nation’s capital. Our biggest complaint about taking the tours is that they are not long enough and we are not able to see or learn about everything. Each state has so many important people and events tied to it that it is more than can be covered in a thirty minute tour, but we always get some interesting facts and a little history at each one. They are definitely worth visiting at least once.
While our children do enjoy visiting the state houses we know that it can be hard for them to listen quietly and try to learn all that they can so we often try to take them somewhere more aimed at children afterward. In Providence this place was the Providence Children’s Museum. We have been to so many children’s museums with our children at this point that I am still surprised at how great they are. We always seem to find something new at each one and Providence was no different. They have made their pretend play area into a hallway that was divided into sections and as you passed through each different door you were in a new world. The kids found an old farm house where they could churn butter and cook soup in the fire place through the first door. Another door took them out to sea where they boarded a ship and hauled food to below deck. Their favorite area though was the brick laying site, here they were able to use bricks (made of foam) of different sizes to build walls, they had to move the bricks around using a wheel barrow and they even had a loft for them to go up and down ladders as well. It really helps them learn about a job or a period in time when they can act it out themselves. In Hartford across from the capitol is a large park and at this park is a carousel, so of course we took the kids to ride it plus it was only $1 a ride so pretty inexpensive too. It is an indoor carousel luckily since it was raining off and on that day. We can always find fun things to do near the capitols that are either free or inexpensive.
My older kids love to read and one of their favorite book series is The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Well it just so happened that she lived in Connecticut not far from our camp and the town had somewhat recently opened a museum in her honor. It was housed in an old boxcar, it was free, and the kids love the stories, so of course we had to go. They had so much fun exploring it. The museum itself is small being that it is in a boxcar, but it was so fun for the kids to get a feel of what it was like for the boxcar children to live in one. The museum had tons of information about the author’s life along with activities for the kids to do and lots of the items from in the stories. Her house that she had grown up in was right down the street, the school that she taught in was visible from the front door, and it was right next door to the train station that inspired her to write the books. It was not only a great little museum, but a great location to learn about Gertrude Chandler Warner the author of a wonderful book series for children.
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We spent our last day in the area going on a picnic at the beach. It was about an hour to get to the shore so I wanted to find a nice one and after some searching on the internet I found a park called Bluff Point that had free parking. From the parking area it is about a mile walk to get to the beach access, but it is an easy walk with plenty of shade. I think that because it is a bit of a walk not many people go all the way to the beach because when we got down to it there were only a few other groups around. It was a perfect beach for kids though because the water was shallow and there weren’t many waves. It was a beautiful and relaxing day for all of us. Charlie Brown Campground was awesome and we had really enjoyed our time in these first New England states. The state house double feature was a new experience and something that may never occur again, but we have now visited half of the capitals in the country and we plan to keep traveling until we have seen them all!
Here are some links and more pictures for the places we visited:
Charlie Brown Campground
The Rhode Island State House Tour
The Connecticut State Capitol Tour
Bushnell Park Carousel
The Providence Children’s Museum
Gertrude Chandler Warner Boxcar Children Museum
Bluff Point State Park
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