Since all of the kids are old enough to appreciate more than just the rides, I am preparing them by reading the original Grimm Brother's fairy tales and the tales of Brer Rabbit before bed each night. With Geshtro, I am reading Tom Sawyer. He also recently finished The Sword in the Stone. With Dimples, I am reading the Disney Fairies books. I plan to read Mary Poppins as well. That may be all I can fit in before our trip, as far as reading goes.
We also took a trip to The Wren's Nest, the home of author Joel Chandler Harris, who wrote the Brer Rabbit stories. While there, the kids were questioned about their knowledge of the Civil War. It's something we've briefly talked about, but not really delved into. I thought now was as good a time as any to learn something new. I found a book we had on our shelves about Frederick Douglass which Geshtro is reading. He pointed out to me that his life "didn't seem too bad for a slave". This sent off some warning bells in my head, so we have been supplementing that text with his Wikipedia entry. Also I found one of his autobiographies for the Kindle is free. He'll be reading that one next for a first hand account of a slave's life.
The two books that Geshtro are reading have led to some discussions about the term negro and other more derogatory terms. He wasn't familiar with those words, so after an explanation we talked more about current language that is still used and it's effects on the people it is aimed towards.
Tom Sawyer has sent us off to re-listen to The Radio Adventures of Doctor Floyd and the episode where they are transported into the book. In one episode Dr. Steve says he thought Tom Sawyer was a song by Rush. This, of course, has us looking up the video on YouTube. Geshtro wanted to know if the song or the book came first and after explaining that, we found this little blurb of information about the song.
In the December 1985 Rush Backstage Club newsletter, drummer and lyricist Neil Peart said:
" Tom Sawyer was a collaboration between myself and Pye Dubois, an excellent lyricist who wrote the lyrics for Max Webster. His original lyrics were kind of a portrait of a modern day rebel, a free-spirited individualist striding through the world wide-eyed and purposeful. I added the themes of reconciling the boy and man in myself, and the difference between what people are and what others perceive them to be - namely me I guess".
It's more than just history that we are learning here though. In preparation for the walking that we will do while at Disney, we have begun taking family walks. This necessitated our buying new tennis shoes for each of the kids. Up to this point, our kids have mostly worn Crocs or other various slip-on types of shoes. They were all pretty ignorant about how to tie shoelaces because of this. So we have been working on those skills as well. Besides shoes, we are also creating a new habit of family togetherness and fitness.
On this trip we will able to take advantage of the free dining plan, so we have set up several dining reservations. To get ready for this, we talk daily about proper table manners and etiquette around meals that are not prepared as they are used to or that they do not like, and how to handle those situations. This is a big one at our house since SweetPea is allergic to milk and I've been making more and more vegan meals. Many new foods are being introduced and old favorites are being adjusted. There is a lot of complaining at mealtimes.
And these are just a few of the ways we are getting ready for our trip and learning from the experience.