Rachel Rittenhouse

Christian fiction for ladies young and old

A Day in Philadelphia

January 18th, 2018

A Day in PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia — the City of Brotherly Love – one of the reasons why I love to visit this city! My favorite way to get to Philly is to take the Septa train. This alleviates a lot of stress and hassle on my part because then I don’t have to worry about parking or parking fees. Plus, who doesn’t love a good train ride! There is so much you can do in Philly, so it is important to really pick what you want to see – and don’t be afraid to go back again and again.

 

For this field trip, we started out by going to the Museum of the American Revolution. This museum just opened April 2017 and it is full of rich history to offer your students from the American Revolutionary War! The museum opens at 10AM, and my family took about 1 1/2 – 2 hours at the museum. When you first arrive, go upstairs to watch the Washington’s War Tent video. This will give you and your student a picture of what it might have been like to be in Washington’s War Tent and the impact that Washington had on the American people. Henry Lee says of George Washington that he was “first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

 

Next, begin making your way through four different galleries that tell the story of the American Revolutionary War. These galleries give the perspective of the soldiers, the English, the colonists, and the Indians. It is neat to read about everyone’s perspectives and see how the war affected them all. This is an important time in our history as Americans because it is when we became our own nation, the United States of America, free from England’s tyranny. I also find this war interesting because of all the events that were taking place in Philadelphia at the time. This was the city where the First Continental Congress met during the Revolutionary War. Philadelphia was also a place that Washington’s army wanted to defend from the British, and therefore they wintered in Valley Forge during the winter of 1777.

 

Depending on the time available, stop by for a tour inside Carpenter’s Hall, which was the meeting place of the Continental Congress. Then make your way to the Liberty Bell Center (just a few blocks away), where you can see the iconic bell itself – a symbol of American freedom, whose “voice has never been stilled” (Independence National Historic Park). This is a free attraction, and can take you anywhere from ½ – 1 hour, depending on the amount of people that are there and how much time you want to spend reading about the history of the Liberty Bell.

 

You will find that there are so many museums that you can stop and spend time in while you walk around Historic Philly. I personally love the variety and the ability to come back, knowing that there is always something new to learn about there. There are also some nice parks and gardens to walk around in this area depending on the weather.

 

Finally, one of my favorite places to stop is the Reading Terminal Market. The Reading Terminal Market is especially prominent in my family because my great-grandparents used to have a stand there. There are so many booths where you can find something to eat, whether for lunch, supper, dessert, or something snack-y.

 

Philadelphia is truly a wonderful city to visit with so many opportunities to learn about different historical events that happened in the city. 

 

Previously published in the CHAP Magazine 

Copyright, 2018, Rachel Rittenhouse 

A Day in Doylestown

October 26th, 2017

A Day in DoylestownWe are in the middle of fall and that means field trip time is back in full swing! This is the season when homeschooling parents are trying to figure out everywhere they want to go that will tie into their students’ classes this school year. And let’s face it – they’re looking for somewhere interesting for kids of all ages so that everyone can enjoy themselves on the field trip!

 

I’ve been to Doylestown quite a few times but when I stumbled on Mercer Museum a new place to learn about opened up. It’s hard to believe that this field trip location is only 20 minutes from my house, yet it’s a museum that I’ve never explored before.

 

Visiting the Mercer Museum is perfect if you love history or if you are studying life in the early American colonies. Its founder, Henry Mercer, pulled together a 40,000-object collection that “documents the lives and tasks of early Americans…prior to the Industrial Revolution” (https://www.mercermuseum.org/visit/mercer-museum/about/). Everything is in one big stone castle room that is six stories tall! From butter making to glass blowing to pottery, tools, blacksmithing, and more, students (and parents) can learn much about this period in time. And if you have younger children, there is even an exhibit for them that lets them interact with the different species of animals that would have been around in colonial times. I would recommend spending at least two hours here so you do not feel rushed but are able to read and enjoy the different exhibits.

 

Also, nearby is Fonthill Castle, which is where Henry Mercer actually lived (https://www.mercermuseum.org/about/fonthill-castle/). Depending how much time you are able to spend in Doylestown, you could definitely stop here as well because it is only five minutes from the Mercer Museum.

 

However, if you want a break from all the history, take an hour or so to walk around Main Street and downtown Doylestown. This is such a neat little town with lots of little shops. There is also an amazing ice cream place called Sweet Pea, and all their ice cream is homemade. A must-stop place for sure!

 

Finally, plan on ending your day by visiting Peace Valley Park. Your time here can vary depending on how much time you have to spend. If you just need a little break in the beautiful outdoors, head down just to sit by the lake and let the kids get out some energy. Or if you know you will have the afternoon, bring some bikes to ride on the bike trail that goes around the lake. It is a beautiful ride! There is also a place where you can rent kayaks or paddleboats if you are looking to get out on the lake.

 

So, start your fall semester off by visiting Doylestown and enjoying a variety of different activities that make for a fun family field trip!

 

Previously published in the CHAP Magazine 

Copyright, 2017, Rachel Rittenhouse 

A Day in Valley Forge

January 19th, 2017

a-day-in-valley-forgeStuck in the winter doldrums? Or maybe elongated summer stagnation? That means it’s the perfect time for another field trip! This one is located right in my own backyard – Montgomery County!

 

It’s time now to journey back in time to the 1700s, in the middle of the American Revolutionary War, to a place called Valley Forge.

 

When you arrive at Valley Forge (hopefully you don’t experience as much construction/traffic difficulties as we did!!), head right into the main entrance and begin your field trip at the visitor’s center. From there, you’ll be guided to where you watch an 18-min video (for free!) on Washington’s Encampment. This provides a great prelude for your kids and helps them better understand all that happened at Valley Forge. This video shows every ½ hour starting at 9:30AM.

 

It’s time now to journey back in time to the 1700s, in the middle of the American Revolutionary… Click To Tweet

 

Once you are done with the video, head back down to the visitor’s center. You probably noticed when you arrived that there a lot of different displays off to the right of the visitor’s center. There are displays that depict different details about how with was living in Valley Forge in the winter months. These soldiers went through a lot – snow, starvation, hunger, and separation from families. In addition, was the reality that they were at war with their mother country, England, and had to always be on guard.

 

Valley Forge is a beautiful park with a great driving tour option that you can do on your own. Once you are done inside at the visitor’s center and the gift shop, grab a map and head back to your car. Since the visitor’s center was stop #1, your next stop will be #2 – the Muhlenberg Bridge, where you could stop to have a nice picnic lunch. My mom, brother, and cousins picked a nice spot to have our picnic in a grassy section right by one the artillery canons. When your lunch is finished, you will see some huts up ahead. You and your kids can even take a peek inside and imagine what it must have been like to stay with 6-8 others in such a small cabin. Nothing like the bunk beds we have today!

 

Once you’re back in the car, you can continue on your driving tour. Don’t feel like you have to stop and get out at each spot. There is space along the way to pull over and take pictures and also to read the map which has a description of each place.  Along the way, you’ll pass the National Memorial Arch, the statue of General Wayne, an artillery park, and the Washington Memorial Chapel.

 

My favorite along the driving tour was stop #5 – Washington’s Headquarters. I promise, you will definitely want to get out and experience this stop! You will first notice an old train station. This is the 1911 Valley Forge Station and has a bunch of neat displays and mini videos inside. Next to it is Washington’s headquarters. Inside the stone building, you’ll pretty much just see the setup of how General Washington and Martha lived during their stay at Valley Forge, but be sure to read about it inside the station.

 

The time spent at Valley Forge is such a crucial part of American history and it happened right in Pennsylvania! The courage of the generals and soldiers of the continental army is something to be admired. Valley Forge Park allows us the ability to appreciate all that those soldiers had to go through to fight for the freedoms that we enjoy today.

 

And of course, don’t miss this chance to shop at the King of Prussia mall only 5 minutes away! That is, if you and your kids aren’t too tired after all the amazingness of Valley Forge!

 

 

Previous published in the CHAP Magazine 

Copyright, 2017, Rachel Rittenhouse 

A Day in Pittsburgh

October 13th, 2016

a-day-in-pittsburgWe are now reaching the fall break point in the school year! By now kids start to feel rambunctious and moms are already thinking of fun field trips they can take with their kids.

 

Field trips have always been my favorite part of the school year and discovering new places to visit is especially fun! I’m here to help you find your “Adventure in Pennsylvania” and provide affordable options that will give your kids a chance to learn outside the classroom and also give them a chance to use up some of their energy.

 

Find your #AdventureinPennsylvania and make learning fun! #ADayinPittsburgh Click To Tweet

 

Who knew that there were so many amazing spots to visit right here in Pennsylvania! This past summer, my family and I visited Pittsburgh.

 

Built between 1759 and 1761, this historic fort was occupied by the British military during the French and Indian war and during the American Revolution until 1772.

 

To start out your adventure in Pittsburgh, take a walk down to the 3-point river. Here you will encounter the meeting of the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela Rivers. Fun fact – the Allegheny River flows north into New York from northern Pennsylvania and then south into Pittsburgh, where it then meets the Monongahela River to form the Ohio River. Pretty cool!

 

To start out your adventure in Pittsburgh, take a walk down to the 3-point river.… Click To Tweet

 

Following that, you will see the Fort Pitt Block House. The block house is the oldest authentic structure in Western PA. It was built in 1764 as a British fortification in the French-Indian War. Inside the building you will be able to see what the soldiers may have experienced as they fought during the war. You and your students can look through little holes, dubbed as “gun loopholes” where the soldiers would have to look through when faced with enemy invasion. Another fun fact about the blockhouse is that civilian families also lived there at different times in history. Standing in that one room and even looking up at the second floor, gives you a feeling at the differences of living in that part of history than what we are accustomed to today.

 

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The block house was also used as a multiple family occupancy after the war. Imagine living in the building that was located in a fort. Throughout the house you will see “points of interest” where you and your children will read a diagram that outlines changes that have been made in the house over time.

 

After visiting the house, you have the option of going through the Fort Pitt Museum. While the block house is free, the museum does have a cost for admittance. I believe you can experience just as much without going through the museum. However, if you have older children and are looking for more information for an essay, walking through the museum may be beneficial.

 

wp_20160627_14_21_02_proAs time allows, another fun aspect of Pittsburgh is just walking around. You are able to walk across the rivers on two bridges. (Caution: only go if you don’t mind heights!) These two bridges are known as the Fort Duquesne Bridge, which crosses the Allegheny River, and the Fort Pitt Bridge, which crosses over the Monongahela River.

 

Walking through downtown Pittsburgh, you can also visit PNC Park, home stadium to the Pirates, which is especially cool if you are a sports fan like my younger brother.

 

Pittsburgh is incredible – whether you are a city person or not so much. One final note to remember: leave before the work traffic gets too terrible!

 

Previous published in the CHAP Magazine 

Copyright, 2016, Rachel Rittenhouse 

Rachel Rittenhouse

Christian fiction for ladies young and old