Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Victorian Era ... Persuasive Ads

In my opinion, nobody is as good at pinpointing the strengths and benefits of a product as those Victorian ad guys!

The kids created their own ads persuading us of the value of their favorite modern product.  Cute!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Victorian Era ... Making a Sachet

Honed our hand sewing skills by making a quick sachet, ever popular in the Victorian Era.

Just stitch together a simple shape with right sides together, leaving a small hole.  Then turn the shape right side out.

Fill with dried flowers.

Stitch the hole closed.

Decorate with beads, jewels and ribbons.  Then stick in your drawer!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Victorian Era ... Transcendentalism

Around the same time that all of the amazing inventions and explorations of the Victorian Era were taking place, a group of people in the US, including Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne,  were contemplating, discussing and writing about the idea of the inherent goodness of people and the corruption of people by society and institutions.   This philosophy was called transcendentalism

We spent the day out hiking in the woods and discussed the principles or transcendentalism. 

1. Live life to the fullest

2. Thou shalt not conform

3. Individualism

4. Do not worship the material

5. Be your own mentor

6. Society corrupts an individuals inherent goodness

7. Be one with God, not the church

8. Simplicity

9. Moral values

10. Nature is sacred

We shared how we felt about each principle and if we felt that we exemplified the principle in our own lives.  We pretty much discovered that we were all pretty transcendental!

We also ended up playing a game we coined "Transcendentalist or Not" where we named characters from books and plays and tried to determine if they portrayed a transcendental mindset or not!  Yoda?  Transcendentalist.  Mr. Wormwood from "Matilda"?  Not!  Willy Wonka?  Elphaba?  Transcendentalists.  Donald Trump?  Not!  It was quite a lot of fun!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Victorian Era ... Culture Day

For Culture Day, the girls plan, organize and executed Victorian Tea party.

They researched recipes, created shopping lists, and prepared food for our tea.  They made scones with berry jam, a variety of tea sandwiches and lavender rose cookies.  And of course they learned to brew the perfect pot of tea

As you can see they also pulled together their own Victorian outfits.  Complete with corsets!

They each came up with a craft, gathered all of the materials and instructed us.  We made Victorian crepe paper dolls and Victorian paper dolls.

Then we played some traditional parlor games like "Blindmans Bluff" and "The Minister's Cat".

Culture Day is always their favorite!  And mine too because I love to see them research, plan, and execute all by themselves!  I love the creativity and the independence!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Victorian Era ... Afternoon Tea

No study of the Victorian Era would be complete without a tea.  We headed to a local Victorian B&B for a very lovely one!

We learned that afternoon tea was created by the Queen Victoria's best friend, who felt a bit peckish around 4PM every day and asked to be brought tea and a snack.  This transformed into a social event for society ladies and the hallmark of Victorian times!

Victorian Era ... Botanical Conservatory

The Victorian Era was such a time of discovery and invention and that extended to exotic plants!

During the Victorian Era, researchers discovered how to transport tropical plant samples back home in a wardian case and began bringing their discoveries to beautiful greenhouses, one of which was the Rawlings Conservatory in Baltimore, MD.  

The building is a spectacular iron and glass greenhouse that holds hundreds of specimens of tropical plants.  

It was quite beautiful to behold but it was amazing to think what it must have been like for visitors during Victorian times who had never laid eyes on an orchid or a palm.  So unlike what grows in the Northeast, it truly must have made visitors feel transported to another land.  I love thinking about the amount of time they might have spent looking at, smelling and touching the various plants!  We had fun doing that too!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Victorian Era ...Kaleidoscopes

Who knew that kaleidoscopes were so hot in the Victorian era!?  Well apparently people were wandering off every street corner with one in hand.

So we learned about their history and then built them using these instructions from Buggy and Buddy.  The kids had no problem following or adjusting the instructions and understood on their how the pattern is reflected in the mylar and then continually reflected between the triangle of mylar.  They experimented with how different patterns create different designs.  And had a really fun time with this simple project.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Victorian Era ... Victorian Architecture

While we live in a Victorian house, I wasn't sure that the kids actually knew what made it Victorian!

We learned about the characteristics of Victorian homes.....

  • Two to three stories. Victorian homes are usually large and imposing.
  • Wood exterior. The majority of Victorian styles use wood siding.
  • Complicated, asymmetrical shape. Unlike the boxy Greek revival style, Victorian homes have wings and bays in many directions.
  • Decorative trim. Commonly called "gingerbread," Victorian homes are usually decorated with elaborate wood or metal trim.
  • Textured wall surfaces. Scalloped shingles, patterned masonry or half-timbering are commonly used to dress up Victorian siding.
  • Steep, multi-faceted roof or Mansard roof. Victorian homes often have steep, imposing rooflines with many gables facing in different directions. The Second Empire Victorian style has a flat-topped Mansard roof with windows in the side to allow for maximum space inside the house.
  • Porch. A large, wraparound porch with ornamental spindles and brackets is common, especially in the Queen Anne style.
  • Towers. Some high-end Victorian homes are embellished with a round or octagonal tower with a steep, pointed roof.
  • Vibrant colors. Before the Victorian era, most houses were painted all one color, usually white or beige. By 1887, bright earth tones like burnt sienna and mustard yellow were in vogue.
...and then we wandered through nearby Ocean Grove, NJ to enjoy and photograph the hundreds of beautifully restored Victorian homes and buildings.'

Victorian Era .. The Telegraph and Morse Code

During the Victorian Era telegraph wires crossed then English Channel and then the Atlantic Ocean and wireless telegraphy was invented.   

We learned  how the telegraph works and sent and decoded messages in Morse code.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Victorian Era ... Photocollage

Photocollages were whimsical compositions of photographs and watercolors made by aristocratic Victorian woman.  The newly popular photographs were  placed into fantasy landscapes, combined with animal body parts and morphed into common household objects.

The girls  embraced the art form in order to make covers for their biographies using photographs of our subjects.


Monday, September 25, 2017

Victorian Era ... Around the World in 80 Days (or 72)

When they were little we read an abbreviated version of Jules Verne's 1873 book, "Around the World in 80 Days" almost every night.  Today we curled up and watched the Jackie Chan movie version.
Image result for around the world in 80 days

While a little silly, it did touch upon many of the achievements and achievers of the Victorian Era.  There was even an appearance by Queen Victoria herself. 

After the movie, we tackled the puzzle/game, Round the World with Nellie Bly. The reporter, Nellie Bly, undertook the same trip around the world in 1889 completing it in 72 days!

Victorian Era ... Tiffany Glass

We learned about the Art Nouveau movement that began in the late-Victorian Era and was focused on a more organic feel to art .... nature, muted colors, curves.

We learned a bit about Louis Comfort Tiffany who created, among other things, glassworks in the Art Nouveau style.   Using what we learned about the style, we created our own Tiffany-inspired glass using liquid lead and glass paint.  (Perhaps more of a lesson in patience and persistence for one child than in Art Nouveau!)

A visit to the NY Historical Society was also in order to see their collection of Tiffany glass.  The exhibit explained how the lamps began as watercolor paintings then became copper templates and were finally cut from glass and put together on a wooden mould.  In addition to over a hundred lamps, there were photos of the studio, pieces of the most beautiful raw glass and the tools used to make the lamps.  There was also this cool exhibit that allowed you to "build" your own Tiffany lamp.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Victorian Era ... Central Park, NY

In 1857 Central Park was establsihed with a design by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux.  The park was created as a respite for families from the poor city living conditions and long work hours of the industrial revolution.  It was a way for families to come together in nature to generate health and happiness.

While I have walked through Central Park hundreds of times, I had never looked at it with the eyes of a person coming for a day of natural enjoyment. It was really amazing how at every turn there was something to explore or enjoy.  Everything placed at just the right point to draw you further in or to make you stop and take notice.

A fairytale landscape of huge boulders, ponds, rolling green hills and hidden bridges leads you in to the park from the Scholars Gate.

After the rustic landscape, you quickly come upon the dairy that provided milk to the children (now a visitor center), a building dedicated to chess and checkers (and lots of board games too!), the old mineral spring (which used to serve 15 kinds of spring water and now has lunch) and a carousel.

Leaving the children's area,  you come to the more formal mall which leads you to the bandshell and then through a beautiful arcade to Bethesda Terrace with the famous fountain and a view of the lake.

Over the bridge and you enter an entirely new world, the Rambles.  It is like hiking in the Adirondacks!  We wandered for an hour along the beautiful paths and almost forgot where we were!

While there was so much more to explore, we definitely got a feel for what a wonder this park would have been back in the late 1800s.. and still is today.