Their eldest son, who is now in second grade, had gone there as a kindergarten student on a field trip and loved it so much that he had been begging to go back, but this time, wanted to not only go with his whole family, but also wanted to invite his friends, Big Bro and Little Bro, as he knew that they would love it too...
Cracker Country is Florida's only outdoor living history museum. Through live demonstrations and interactive exhibits, children and their families get to learn about Florida's rural past, dating from 1870-1912.
This bit is from their website:
“Crackers” derive their name from the rugged 19th century pioneers who developed the territory now known as Florida. Cattle roamed free in the Florida woodlands and had to be rounded up before being sold and shipped up north and to Cuba. Lariats didn’t work in the thick underbrush so cow hunters used cow whips to round them up. The whips were not used to strike the cattle but were actually popped or “cracked,” resulting in a sound similar to a rifle shot. The loud crack would get the cattle moving and could be heard over very long distances. When early settlers heard the sound they would say, “Here come the Crackers.” The name has stuck and the term “Florida Cracker” is still used today to describe native born Floridians.
We had a great time at Cracker Country!
We toured all of the buildings, checked out all of the interactive exhibits, and in general, we "had a blast learning about Florida's past"...
What struck me as odd was that even though this was all about Florida's rural past, I could not help but being taken back to my days as a child visiting Delhurst Country Store and Old Fort Eriez Outdoor Exhibits in North East, Pennsylvania.
When I was a child, we used to head to Niagara Falls on little weekend day trips with my family. Part of the fun of going to Niagara Falls was the stopover at Delhurst Country Inn. They sold penny candy, miniature glass animals (my sister and I both collected these), along with a variety of other items. My dad used to stop there either on the way to or else on the way home from Niagara Falls. I enjoyed going there almost as much as I did seeing the actual falls.
They always had big, fluffy cats hanging out on the porch of the store and then, right in the store.
there were old fashioned items to see and buy everywhere. Just an awesome place to visit as a child...
Cracker Country's General Store and Gift Shop were both very similar to the general store at Delhurst Country Inn, so it really brought fond memories back of my childhood...
Big Bro and Little Bro decided to try some rock candy. They also got some replicas of money from back in the time of the Civil War. The store had replicas of both Confederate money and Union money, so we got some of each. We have not covered the Civil War in our studies, but the boys found the money to be neat to see and to compare...
Seeing the different exhibits set up at Cracker Country (church, school house, home, place to wash laundry, place to make rope, train station, etc.) seemed so reminiscent of what we used to see when I was a child and we would go on school trips to a place that I believe was called Old Fort Eriez.
Not to be confused with Fort Erie up in Ontario, this Old Fort Eriez place was somewhere near North East as well. It was set on an actual farm, made by the owners for children to visit on field trips. It featured a display of child sized outdoor exhibits that included various buildings with interactive materials in each building. Getting to experience something hands on like Cracker Country was as fun for me as an adult as it was to do this same sort of experience in Pennsylvania as a child...so glad that our neighbors asked us to go, as we all enjoyed our day.
All of the children in our group loved the various exhibits, especially learning about how they laundered and ironed their clothes, how they made homemade soap, candles, rope, and toys...
Having an old fashioned wash board and tub or making homemade soap or candles are all things that you could bring into a Montessori setting for a child to try. Doing simple woodworking to make simple wooden toys would also be a possibility in a Montessori setting...
If there would be a way to get a hold of the tool they used to help make rope, it would be an awesome Montessori inspired work for practical life.
So neat how the took twine made from plant pulp and then twisted the twine into rope.
Seeing how the community had to work together to help get tasks done, such as making rope, was really interesting.
Getting to play with the very simple toys from rural Florida was a fun experience, too.
There were volunteers who really helped to make this place come alive, as they told a bit about the history as well as the actual construction of things, such as when they showed the children how to use the toys and tools from back in the day. Both Big Bro, Little Bro, and the three neighbor friends we met up with at Cracker Country all seemed to really enjoy learning about the toys and handmade household products from the late 19th / early 20th century.
Well, here are some photos from our fun at Cracker Country...
|Big Bro and Little Bro sitting in the desks in the one room schoolhouse...|
|Big Bro showing Little Bro how to play with a Jacob's Ladder toy...|
|Big Bro and Little Bro watching the twine being made into rope...the twine was made from plant pulp...three pieces of twine were twirled into one to make rope.|
|Spools of thread and old fashioned boots from the general store...the spools of thread looked similar to the Color Tablets # 3 box, so Little Bro found that to be kind of interesting...|
Playing checkers with pieces made from corn husks.
|McGuffey Readers, slates, chalk, and yo-yos on sale at the general store...|
|George Washington Brand item from the general store...|
|Big Bro playing with one of the toys at Cracker Country...|
|Display inside the train station...|
|Train display that was set up to resemble how rural Florida would have looked back in the day...|
|Big Bro checking out a handmade toy...|