As you may have read (click here) yesterday, we are NOT schooling this week – officially anyway! So while reading to the children during lunch (a thing I do often as they are sitting still with their mouths too full to interrupt – very much anyway!) the rest of the Thomas Jefferson book we started but got sidetracked from last week, I was surprised by the rabbit trails that flowed from our story.
The kids remembered much more then I expected, having been over a week since we last read from it. Lily even remembered the name of the girl whom Jefferson had married, while Gabe merely groaned at the sappiness of yet another man falling over a girl. As we read more they became interested in Monticello (the house he built) and were fascinated by seeing pictures of The University of Virginia and realizing that was still the same building Jefferson helped to build and that people still went to school there today, and that – perhaps – they might even have a chance to go there too someday.
And, while looking something up (not even sure what that something was now) in this wonderful America book, we ran into a secret compartment in the back. Gabe suddenly shouted, “It’s the Declaration of Independence!!!” as loud as he could, excited that maybe it was right here in our very dining room. We carefully unwound the cord and pulled the poster out and unfolded it. Right there, before fresh patriotic eyes, was the Declaration in all it’s glory full of swirls and swishes of handwriting from another era.
They were mesmerized. We read a bit – until I couldn’t quite make out the cursive anymore – and then we hunted. For what you ask? Why signatures of course! Gabe and I recently had a discussion over signatures as he sternly informed me at the grocery store, while signing for my debit card, that that WAS NOT cursive…it was just a bunch of scribbles. I tried explaining but had no real way of communicating it in an understandable format…until now! Here was this plethora of scribbles before him of important men – real men – who did important things. You could see it click for him.
They quickly found Thomas Jefferson’s and Ben Franklin’s signatures. We hunted and hunted for George Washington’s and googled an image of his signature only to find out he never signed the Declaration of Independence. (Do you see how I am not really the teacher in this schooling thing, but merely a student learning right along with them in our inquisitiveness together?)
This segued into Gabe wanting to practice his name in cursive and Lily wanting to draw her own picture of Monticello then sign with her own flourishes as long as she could add a heart to dot her ‘i’ and a flower on the end of her swirls.
So much for NOT schooling today!