Today, I was a chaperone on the children's first school field trip to a local historic farm.
And after my experiences a week or so ago with poorly behaved teachers and chaperones on my own historic house tour--the teacher talked through the whole tour, not noticing when her kids misbehaved and not stopping when I privately requested she do so (besides that, we've had chaperones talk and text on their phones, teachers and chaperones abandon their classes and wander off, and more)--I wanted to be a model chaperone. And I think I was--helped the kids follow instructions, kept them all together, and never distracted from the docents. Though, perhaps, I spoke up a couple of times enthusiastically--"oooh, kids, you won't get to touch a 200 year-old loom again!" or "wow, just imagine cooking on that stove!" But I didn't dominate or ask too many questions (only one or two, on the side) and I never answered them. (Yes, I wanted to. But I didn't find any fault with any of the tour.)
We had a wonderful time! The kids learned about blacksmiths and "jobbing", getting to try their hands with "frog-lip" tongs and "duck-billed" tongs. They planted green bean seeds in containers to take home. They fed sheep and chickens. They helped weave a floor rug with fabric scraps on the aforementioned loom. They made and ate cornmeal pancakes, after looking at an old wood-burning stove, and got to touch ice in a real icebox. They carded and then spun by hand yarn from the sheep, tying it into a bracelet to take home. It really was a fabulous tour--well-paced, well-structured, well-timed, with a diversity of information and hands-on activities with enthusiastic and engaged docents. As a fellow museum educator, I was impressed; as a mom, I was grateful. Because I know how much effort went into the tour.
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground cornmeal
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup melted shortening or vegetable oil
1 egg, well beaten
Add together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Then mix in boiling water. Stir milk, shortening, and egg into batter.
Drop large tablespoonful onto a hot, well-greased frying pan or griddle. Turn the heat down and cook the cakes until they are brown (and begin to bubble.) Then flip them over and brown on the other side. Eat and enjoy!