22 February 2011

A Trip to Our Capitol

A week ago today we took the kids on a field trip to Little Rock, our state capitol. It was Homeschool Day at the Capitol and we joined several families from our local homeschool group and also hundreds of other homeschoolers from around the state.

(the rotunda)

The purpose of this day was to promote good will between homeschoolers and legislators and bring more awareness of the homeschool community to our leaders. Of course, we also schmoozed them with desserts...ha! Oh~and it was a great educational field trip for our family!

Our group was able to receive a personal tour from one of our area's senators. He did a great job of explaining to all of the kiddos (and parents) just how everything works.

(our state seal...in carpet!)

(the ceiling of the state senate)

(where the state senate meets)

We also had some time on our own to explore the capitol a bit. The upper level was filled with kid-friendly displays telling all about our state. Our kiddos were a tad young to read all of the displays and really retain it all, but it was a very good introduction for them.

We also explored a little of the monuments and memorials on the outside grounds of the Capitol. One monument that I found particularly moving was the one to The Little Rock Nine~the students who were so significant during the Civil Rights Movement. We would learn much more about them later that day.

We wrapped up our time at the Capitol with pics on the front steps~both of our family and with the hundreds of other homeschoolers there.

After a lunch break (Yes, all of this before noon! It was an early morning!), we made our next stop: the Central High School National Historic Site. We had a list of different places we wanted to possibly visit and I'm so glad we chose this one for this day.

(at the visitors center)

(a painting of the Little Rock Nine)

The visitors center was filled with amazing photographs of our country during the time of the Civil Rights Movement. There was also much in the way of recordings and film. It was so fascinating (and heartbreaking and maddening) to read and watch. The kids were very interested, but of course they have no frame of reference for that sort of mind set that was so prevalent then. Even Vince and myself have very little comprehension of how things truly were. I've only heard stories from my parents~who remember that time in Little Rock very well.

I have to say this was one of the nicer visitors centers for the National Parks Service that we've visited. Maybe it was because their workers were also so very welcoming and friendly. This Park Ranger in the photo below was THE nicest Park Ranger we've ever encountered. The kids were once again participating in the Jr. Park Ranger program and worked hard to earn their badge that day and the Ranger absolutely hooked them up with all kinds of fun loot: patches, badges, tattoos, fun papers, you-name-it! We really enjoyed our time there.

Across from the visitors center is the actual high school, which is still a busy school today.

After all of this learning, it was time for a little down time and leg-stretching. So we headed down to the Riverfront area to look for a piece of the *little rock* that the city was named after.

What we found was a lovely park area with a beautiful pedestrian bridge over the Arkansas River. And, of course, the little rock.

We enjoyed a brisk walk over the river~the weather was absolutely perfect that day! Such a blessing!

And the view of Little Rock were so nice!

We enjoyed walking a bit and letting the kids play before being in the car for our 2.5 hour drive back home.

This was one of my favorite family field trips yet! We all enjoyed it so much. And would you believe that this whole day only cost us: gas to get there, lunch at Wendy's and $5 to park at the Riverfront!? I say that's a deal!

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