Friday, September 19, 2014

Z Is For Zoo

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Page for details.

Recently I wrote a post called, Z is for Zoo, for my blog friend My Joy Filled Life. It was a fairly short post, but it did included two great FREE zoo journal pages.


We love trips to the zoo because you can learn and have tons of fun at the same time. Geography, history, reading, math and more can easily be covered during a trip to the zoo! We have visited several zoos in Georgia and Tennessee over the past several years with the kids. But the closest zoo to us is Zoo Atlanta..... Read the entire post here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sweetwater Creek State Park - 2,549 Acres of Nature and History

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Page for details.

A few weeks ago we visited Sweetwater Creek State Park located in Northwest Georgia. That now brings the total of GA State Parks we have visited to 15. I know we have many more to go considering there are 65 State Parks in Georgia. Gwyn and I visited this beautiful state park a couple months ago, but since we were attending the GO Day event we didn't have any spare time to check out all the beautiful trails and historical sites this 2,549 acre State Park offers.

Sweetwater Creek State Park is a beautiful oasis of wilderness only minutes from downtown Atlanta. There are numerous trails, but the most popular is the wooded trail (red) that follows the stream to the ruins of New Manchester Manufacturing Company, a textile ill that was burned during the Civil War. 

We spent the majority of our day exploring the interpretive visitor center and the red and white trails. We met a couple of friends around 10 am and explored the park until about 3:30.

Check out all of the fun things this amazing Georgia State Park offers nature lovers and history buffs. 


  • Hiking – 9 miles of trails, closed at dark 
  • Lake and Creek Fishing
  • Canoe and Kayak Rental (seasonal) 
  • SUP (Stand Up Paddle) board rental (seasonal) 
  • Fishing Boat Rental (seasonal) 
  • Pedal Boat Rental (seasonal) 
  • Picnicking 
  • GeoCaching 
  • Ranger Guided Interpretive Programs 
  • Bird-watching
  • Playgrounds Fun
  • Jr. Ranger and 150th Civil War Program

Before you start your trek down the riparian forest, red trail make sure you pick up the informational flora/fauna brochure and historical fast fact sheet at the interpretive center. There are also many placards along the red trail to provide you with additional information. During our visit we splashed in the river, caught frogs and lizards, went geocaching, climbed rocks, smelled hickory and pine, discovered really awesome fungus, picked up litter and soaked in the beautiful history and views! 

**Note the ruins are fenced off to visitors, however you can arrange a Ranger led tour for a small fee. As you can see in the photos there are many spots that provide a terrific, unobstructed view of them.

The History:
In 1845 Colonial James Rogers and former Georgia Governor Charles MacDonald purchased land along Sweetwater Creek for a textile mill. In 1849 the Sweetwater Factory opened its doors for business. The factory which ran off the waters off Sweetwater Creek produced cotton yarns and cloth. In 1857 Sweetwater Manufacturing Company sold the property to New Manchester Manufacturing Company. The mill was 5 stories and large enough to support a town of 200 people with 60-70 employees working in the factory. In 1861 when the Civil War began the mill was contracted to provide cotton osnaburg and muslin cloth for the Confederate Army. During the war the factory was operated mostly by women. So to protect the goods from robbers a local militia called "Alexander's Company" was created. On July 2, 1864, Union Cavalry, the 1st and 11th Kentucky Cavalry, under the command of Lt. Col Silas Adams and the 14th Illinois Cavalry under Maj. Haviland Thompkins, arrived and occupied the town of Manchester. And sadly on July 9, 1864 the factory buildings and the company store were burned to the ground. Men, Women and Children were imprisoned for treason and transported out of Georgia. Years later some citizens returned to Georgia but since the mill was gone they had no work and did not resettle on Sweetwater Creek. 

What is your favorite State Park either in Georgia or your home state?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Raising Bearded Dragons Course Review

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Page for details.

If you follow us on InstagramFacebookTwitter and/or Google +  you may know we have a small petting zoo forming at our home. We currently own a ferret, a rat, two guinea pigs, 4 Madagascar hissing cockroaches and a bearded dragon.

We adopted our bearded dragon Spike from a friend earlier this year and despite all our online research and chats with the local pet store employees, we were not properly prepared to raise him correctly. About 3-4 months after having him in our care he became ill, thankfully we were able to rectify the issue before it was too late.

Recently we reviewed a fabulous resource called Raising Bearded Dragons and are now completely and properly informed on what we need to do to give Spike a happy, healthy life. If you are considering a bearded dragon for a pet or recently became a beardie owner, I highly recommend purchasing this comprehensive course.

Raising Bearded Dragons: The Ultimate Care Guide to Raising a Healthy Bearded Dragon, is a complete care course for Beardie owners. This comprehensive course is an 11 module video series created by Abigail Kessler and Gabriel Valo, and is presented by Bay Guthrie. The course teaches you all of the do’s and don’ts of raising a healthy Beardie. Also included are a Bearded Dragon Food list PDF, Care Sheet PDF and access to the Raising Bearded Dragons exclusive Facebook community.....

Read our full review on Raising Bearded Dragons as well as 2 other reviews on The Old Schoolhouse Magazine website. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Lessons From The Grave PLUS A List of Georgia Cemeteries

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Page for details.

Have you ever taken your children on a fieldtrip to a cemetery? I know what your thinking...and yes I am crazy. But bare with me for a few minutes and you will find out exactly what a cemetery can teach you and your children. We have been visiting local cemeteries for the last 4 years and you may be surprised to find out that there are many lessons that can be learned by a visit to a local cemetery, especially a historic one.

Cemeteries are fabulous teaching tools which are easily accessible and FREE to visit. They are an outdoor history museum, a wildlife sanctuary, a botanical garden and an art gallery all rolled into one. They exist in every single community all over the world and provide many educational opportunities for families. Children and adults can learn about history, science, math, social studies, language arts and more on a cemetery fieldtrip. Did you know that many cemeteries even provide FREE tours?

Cemeteries "bring history to life" and drive children and adults to appreciate its unique historical significance. There is no better lesson in life than digging into the past and learning how the people who came before you lived and the impacts they in their community during their life.

Make sure you follow these important rules: ask permission if it's a privately owned cemetery, provide adult supervision, dress appropriately, never move a gravestone, never lean or sit on gravestones, use only water to clean off a gravestone, use caution when doing rubbings, be quiet and respectful.

10 Lessons A Cemetery Can Teach Children:

  1. Science - Discuss the different types of stones that were used to create the gravestone and how the various stone types hold up against the weather over the years. Discuss the topography of the cemetery. Discuss why gravestones begin to tilt over time. Discuss flora and fauna that you can find at a cemetery.
  2. Geography - Draw an aerial view of the cemetery and label various gravestones (famous, oldest, newest etc). Discuss why that particular location may have been chosen for the cemetery.
  3. Math - Calculate the age at the time of death. Find the oldest and most recent grave. Find the geometric shapes of stones (spheres, cylinders, pyramids, etc). Discuss the cost of an average funeral. Gather specific data (such as date of birth, names) and graph findings. Find the perimeter of gravestones.
  4. Art - Make gravestone rubbings (be very careful not to knock over gravestones or get crayon/chalk on them). Sketch or photograph gravestones/monuments/sculptures and discuss the designs, etc. Discuss symmetry.  Discuss how monuments and sculptures are made. Discuss  the importance of cemetery restoration. Discuss the iconography of the gravestone symbols, statues and monuments. Design your own gravestone using clay or plaster. 
  5. History - Research famous people you discover at the cemetery. Research various time periods that you discover at the cemetery. Find the graves of veterans and discuss the wars they fought in. Make a family tree of persons buried in a family plot. Discuss the types of gravestones used throughout history (such as Slot-and-tab, Gothic, Tablet, etc)
  6. Language Arts - Discuss epitaphs...what is their significance, unusual ones, famous ones, etc. Write a story about a whose family plot you select in the cemetery. Discuss vocab words like epitaph, casket, crypt, engraving, obituary, etc).
  7. Health - Discuss average lifespans through the years and how they have changed over time. Walking around a cemetery is great exercise for your body and soul. Sit down, relax and just contemplate and/or pray.
  8. Social Studies - Discuss burial customs both local and other cultures. Discuss the community where the cemetery is located. Discuss social classes (rich, poor middle) and how you can possible tell a persons class by their gravestone. Discuss the community's ethnic, cultural, religious and historical background by examining ages, names, symbols and epitaphs . 
  9. Technology - Before or after the trip research the history of the cemetery, burial records for the cemetery,gravestone types, etc. Gather names of people that are buried in the cemetery and try to find their obituaries online.
  10. Civics - Discuss how you can be a responsible citizen in the community. Discuss respect for beliefs and feelings. Clean up litter around the cemetery. Adopt a plot (with permission). 

Cemetery Journal Page:
Here is a FREE cemetery fieldtrip journal page I created to assist you with your cemetery fieldtrip.

Cemetery lesson resources:

Georgia Cemeteries:
(As we discover more cemeteries I will add them to the list)

Georgia cemeteries provide you with a look into the past especially the Civil War and slavery.You can also learn about the lives of many notable Americans.

Oakland Cemetery
  1. Oakview Cemetery - Albany
  2. Andersonville National Cemetery - Andersonville
  3. Oconee Hill - Athens 
  4. Historic Oakland Cemetery - Atlanta - City Cemetery with the graves of Margaret Mitchell, Bobby Jones, and many Atlanta notables.
  5. King Center - Atlanta - Martin Luther King's resting place.
  6. Westview Cemetery - Atlanta
  7. Sardis Church & Cemetery - Atlanta
  8. Sylvester Cemetery - Atlanta
  9. The Gilbert Memorial Cemetery - Atlanta - the final resting place for African Americans before the beginning of the Civil War.
  10. Historic Utoy Cemetery - Atlanta
  11. Magnolia Cemetery - Augusta
  12. Cedar Grove Cemetery - Augusta 
  13. Georgia National Cemetery - Canton
  14. Oak Hill Cemetery - Cartersville
  15. Cassville Cemetery - Cassville - Confederate Cemetery home to 300 Unknown soldiers.
  16. Linwood Cemetery - Columbus
  17. Honey Creek Woodlands - Conyers - I am not 100% sure if you can actually visit call ahead - however this cemetery certainly makes for great discussion.
  18. Mount Hope Cemetery - Dahlonega - Pre-Civil War cemetery. There is even a marker for two Revolutionary War soldiers. Also Contains rare slot-and-tab tombstones.
  19.  - Dahlonega - This pile of stones marks the grave of a Cherokee Indian named, Trahlyta.
  20. West Hill Cemetery - Dalton
  21. Cedar Hill Cemetery - Dawson
  22. Decatur Cemetery - Decatur -  resting place of three veterans of the American Revolution, a monument standing over a field where numerous orphans are buried, and the final resting place of Dr. Thomas Holley Chivers, who abandoned his medical training for poetry and was described by Edgar Allen Poe as “one of the best and one of the worst poets in America.”
  23. Crestlawn Memorial Gardens - Eatonton 
  24. Evergreen Cemetery - Fitzgerald
  25. Forsyth Cemetery - Forsyth
  26. Old Pioneer Cemetery - Fort Gaines
  27. New Park Cemetery - Fort Gaines
  28. Alta Vista Cemetery - Gainesville - cemetery with James Longstreet, Astronaut Sonny Carter, and 2 governors.
  29. Memorial Park - Gainesville 
  30. Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery - Glennville
  31. Gordon City Cemetery - Gordon
  32. Greensboro Cemetery - Greensboro
  33. Stonewall Cemetery - Griffin
  34. Hamilton City Cemetery - Hamilton - there is a very interesting article regarding the upkeep of the slave side of this cemetery 
  35. Orange Hill - Hawkinsville          
  36. Woodbine Cemetery - Jefferson
  37. Jonesboro Confederate Cemetery - Jonesboro - small Confederate Cemetery with the grave of a Confederate Medal of Honor recipient.
  38. Flat Rock Cemetery - Lithonia
  39. Rose Hill Cemetery - Macon
  40. Riverside Cemetery - Macon - It is the final resting place of over 18,000 people including Civil War veterans, esteemed civic and business leaders, renowned educators, religious leaders of several faiths, members of the Military, and prominent Macon families.
  41. Old Madison Cemetery - Madison
  42. Marietta National Cemetery - Marietta
  43. Marietta Confederate Cemetery - Marietta
  44. Midway Cemetery - Midway - cemetery dating all the way back to 1754.
  45. Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery - Milledgeville 
  46. Memory Hill - Milledgeville
  47. Rest Haven Cemetery - Monroe
  48. Wahoo Baptist - Murrayville
  49. Oak Hill - Newnan
  50. Farmer Street Cemetery - Newnan
  51. Lebanon Cemetery - Plains - Carter family is buried here.
  52. Resaca Cemetery - Resaca - Confederate Cemetery begun by two young girls after the Battle of Resaca.
  53. Myrtle Hill Cemetery - Rome - Rome’s Historic Myrtle Hill Cemetery has become the permanent home of more than 20,000 Romans since 1857 (App of cemetery available on the website)
  54. Founders’ Cemetery - Roswell
  55. Presbyterian Cemetery - Roswell
  56. Old Roswell Cemetery - Roswell
  57. Bonaventure Cemetery - Savannah - final resting place for many of Georgia's founders and politicians.
  58. Colonial Park Cemetery - Savannah
  59. Laurel Grove Cemetery - Savannah
  60. Christ Church (Christ Episcopal Church) - St. Simons Island
  61. Toccoa City Cemetery - Toccoa
  62. Sunset Hill Cemetery - Valdosta
  63. Resthaven Cemetery - Washington 
  64. Rose Hill Cemetery - Winder
Mount Hope Cemetery

If you know of a great Georgia cemetery that I did not include please leave a comment below so I can add it to the list.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Civil War Films and Apps For Children

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Page for details.

The Civil War is a huge part of Georgia history and it is almost a guarantee that we will learn something new about the Civil War during our fieldtrip adventures. And it is inevitable that my children will have questions and will want to learn even more afterwards. Thankfully there are amazing films and apps to help us out.

Here is a list of Civil War films (movies and documentaries) that are child friendly (PG-13 and below ratings). As well as several great Civil War Apps.

War is always a very sensitive subject and can be a very tricky one to discuss with children due to the horrific nature of the events. Civil War films tend to be very bloody and gory, since it was one of the bloodiest battles in our history. These are documentaries and movies that we have allowed our children to watch with parental supervision. However children's maturity levels and parent views are all different so before letting your children watch these I encourage you to preview them first!

WWII films for children:

- Dog Jack - Redbox - During the Civil War, a slave boy and his dog escape from a plantation, join the Union army and eventually face their former master on the battlefield.
-Ken Burns: The Civil War - Netflix - a documentary depicting the action of famous Civil War battles. Includes stories of soldiers and generals and the president.
-Death and the Civil War - Netflix - A film that explores how the American Civil War created a "republic of suffering" and charts the war's far reaching social, political and social impact.
-National Geographic: Civil War Gold - Netflix - Excavators and explorers uncover the mysteries of the SS Republic, a steamship that sank in 1865.
-Fields of Valor - Netflix - The miniseries brings to life the intimate accounts of brave men on both sides of the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict the U.S has ever know.
-Gettysburg - Amazon Prime - The epic story of the three day battle that forever changed the course of the American Civil War, this sweeping drama is compassionately recounted through the eyes of soldiers.
-Gods and Generals - Amazon Prime - The rise and fall of legendary war hero Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson as he leads the Confederacy to great success against the Union from 1861 to 1863. Prequel to the 1993 classic "Gettysburg".
-The Red Badge of Courage - Amazon Prime - Truncated adaptation of Stephen Crane's novel about a Civil War Union soldier who struggles to find the courage to fight in the heat of battle.
-Warriors of Honor - Amazon Prime - The Revolutionary War united America. Less than one hundred years later, a bloody Civil War divided it. Most Americans believe that Southerners fought to preserve slavery; however, a much deeper divide existed between the North and South. Two drastically different cultures had emerged on the American landscape.
-How the West Was Won - Amazon Prime - A family saga covering several decades of Westward expansion in the nineteenth century--including the Gold Rush, the Civil War, and the building of the railroads.
-The Civil War, Part I: Crash Course US History - YouTube
-The Civil War Trust - YouTube - has tons of awesome videos (I love their 4 minute videos)
-Conflict in the South (2 part) Liberty Kids - YouTube
-Causes Of The American Civil War  - YouTube
-A Summary of The Civil War - YouTube
-Johnny Shilo - YouTube Civil War videos

Civil War Apps (FREE):
-Civil War Battles - Android - Civil War Battles is a detailed turn-based simulation of combat from the American Civil War. Unit types include infantry, cavalry, artillery, gunboats, and supply wagons as well as leaders which can significantly determine the outcome of a battle just based on their own personal leadership and command abilities.
-American Civil War Gazette - Android - With the advent of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War (ACW) upon us, this is a simple app + widget that will unfold the news headlines and events of the ACW in real-time as they occurred.
-Atlanta Campaign Battle App - IOS and Android - The Atlanta Campaign Battle App™ is the perfect touring partner for your visits to North Georgia’s Civil War battlefields. Our GPS-enabled tour application allows you to discover the great historical sites associated with this pivotal 1864 campaign.
-Civil War Interactive Tour - IOS and Android - Sandy Springs has a rich, complex Civil War history.  This app is a wonderful new asset that residents and visitors to the area can utilize to learn more of the pivotal role the area played during the turbulent summer of 1864, when Union General William T. Sherman unleashed his Army to cross the Chattahoochee River and take the City of Atlanta.
-Marietta's Cannonball Trail -  IOS and AndroidDownload this app for a voice narrated, guided tour of Marietta’s Cannonball Trail. Stops include: Cheatham Hill and the Illinois Monument, Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park, Kolb’s Farm, The Marietta Confederate Cemetery and many antebellum homes.
-History Here - IOS and Android -  an interactive travel guide to thousands of historic locations across the United States.

A few months ago The Civil War in Four Minutes was available to watch online but was removed for copyright infringement. It was absolutely amazing though and I highly recommend purchasing The Civil War In Four Minutes DVD. Here is the trailer.

I will continue adding more films and apps to this list as I come across them so be sure to pin or bookmark the post for future reference.

More suggestions:
-FREE Civil War resources
-Your Story Hour - General Lee Hero of the South

*We may let our children watch things other parents may not approve of. So before you let your children watch any of these I encourage you to preview them first.

Documentary printable:
This journal page is great for any documentary, get yours here for FREE or click the photo below.

What are some of your favorite child friendly Civil War films or apps?

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