History—the word alone can cause dramatic reactions. For some it can cause eyes spontaneously to roll back and obscene snores to emanate from their mouths. Others can recite the entire lineage of Chinese imperial dogs and have the History Channel’s logo burned into the lower corner of their TV screen. Most of us sit somewhere in the middle. We have particular parts of history we like, and the rest we leave.
My three-year-old son, Caleb, received a book titled B is for Beaver by Marie and Roland Smith (Sleeping Bear Press, 2003) for his birthday last year. It is a multilevel book that lists something uniquely Oregon for each letter of the alphabet.
At this stage, we read the fun poems and point out the places we have been. Later, we will be able to discus the other information in depth. Caleb particularly enjoys the picture of the “gold pine-up here” (three-year-old speak for Golden Pioneer) on our state capitol inSalem. Even at his young age, he has a vivid memory of the two of us walking around the capitol building while my husband worked nearby at one of the state offices.
My husband and I have always enjoyed adventuring. We pack a lunch and the atlas, fill the pickup with fuel, and start driving. We have seen an incredible amount of our state by simply picking curious names off the map and driving to see what is there. We have climbed rocky outcrops to abandoned lookouts and explored dilapidated miners’ cabins. We have seen weird holes in the ground and stood in the middle of amazing waterfalls.
As I read Caleb’s book, an idea formed. Why not incorporate our adventures with an alphabetic bucket list of places to visit—historic places so my husband and I could share our love of different eras with Caleb and learn something along the way.
You can adapt the idea in many different ways. You could narrow the focus to a particular city or period. You could expand it to cover the history of our nation. To save your memories, make an alphabetic scrapbook of your adventures. Only your imagination and creativity can limit the possibilities.
No matter what age or stage your children are in, everyone can learn something. Our visit to the state capitol was a first for my son and me. Despite the difference in our ages, it was amazing for both of us. For him it was as simple as a shiny man on top of a building. For me it was seeing the potential in my son and looking forward to many more adventures.
This sample list from my home state may inspire you:
AstoriaColumn – explorers
Bly – World War II
ColumbiaGorge – travel and recreation
Devil’s Flat Guard Station – New Deal, Civilian Conservation Corps
End of theOregon TrailMuseum- settlers
FortStevens- World War II
Glass Buttes – Native Americans
Hull-Oakes Mill – steam mill/early logging
Illahee Flats – Native Americans
John DayFossil Beds – prehistoric times
KamWahChungMuseum- Chinese American influences
LavaCastForest- geologic history
McLoughlin House – explorers/settlement
Noonday Trail – travel
Pete French Round Barn – cowboys
Robert Newell House – government
Salem- state capitol
Timberline Lodge – skiing/recreation
Valley of theRogueState Park- Native Americans/early settlers
Wheat museum – farming
Yaquina Lighthouse – shipping/navigation
ZX Ranch – cowboys
*Note: Sleeping Bear Press has an amazing array of alphabet books for each state and more.
By Sarah Schartz
Sarah Schartz is a full-time wife and mom and part-time writer and off-highway vehicle instructor. She and husband Kyle own a small excavation business. Sarah, her husband, and son enjoy exploring Oregon’s backwoods and back roads by dirt bike.
—Originally published in the “God’s Word Does Not Return Void” issue (May/June 2009) of Homeschooling Today magazine