Wednesday, January 25, 2012

American History

The boys had a couple days off school for teacher professional development. I decided to take a day off for mental health development. And what's better than a day trip for mental health?

Coming up with cheap indoor, winter-appropriate day trips can be tricky. Fortunately, in this region, we always have a solution: the Smithsonian.

The boys and I rode the Metro in. This was a treat in itself, especially for Matthew who never lost his toddler fascination for trains. He was very excited and had a hard time keeping his bottom in the seat. He had questions about everything: the Amtrak beside us, the station names, the tunnel lights. If we had simply rode the train to town and back, he would have been a happy boy.  Instead, he and his brother got the added bonus of getting off at the Smithsonian stop, bypassing a large rally on the National Mall, and trekking over to the museum.

I realized in planning our visit, the boys had never been past the Natural History Museum. This was always my favorite, but I felt a little bad for the oversight. Gabe just finished a social studies unit on the American Revolution and is now studying the War of 1812, so the American History Museum seemed a good choice for Monday's venture.

It was strange for me to enter the American History building and not immediately see the Star Spangled Banner. The poor thing was falling apart and is now in a special glass-enclosed chamber. The new exhibit does a better job of telling the flag's story. A ramp leads past panels describing the War of 1812 and the Battle of Baltimore. You round a dark corner and enter the viewing area for the banner itself. I'm a big sap and choke up every time I see it, but I was surprised that my boys were also moved. They both gazed at the flag a long time and asked to see it again later that day.

Several areas of the museum were closed as new exhibits moved in, but we still saw plenty.  I learned some time ago to let the boys go at their own pace. When they see something they're interested in, we stop and read and talk about the exhibit. Otherwise, we just browse.

The boys especially loved the trains (no surprise).

As well as the original Kermit (also no surprise).

We stopped to eat our lunch (a combination of snacks stowed in my backpack and chicken fingers from the cafeteria) before heading through the chilly drizzle to the Air and Space Museum.

But that's a post for another day.


  1. The flag was Allie's favorite part of the whole museum. Which surprised me; she rarely expresses appreciation for things with significance, usually just the fun, bright, shiny, and cute. :)

    1. I was really surprised the boys were so enthralled. They typically gravitate towards the bright, shiny and technological! :)

      PS: Yay for Blogger finally allowing comment strings!