We woke up Saturday morning itching to get an adventure in. My husband has always wanted to visit Leavenworth because he wanted to see the United States Penitentiary that is located there. “Sure! Let’s take the kids to go see a prison! It will be tons of fun!” I said…
Before we packed the car and headed North, we found a few Youtube videos that got the big kids pretty excited. They learned that we would be visiting the very first city of Kansas and the Missouri River was nearby, which of course meant we would have a riverside picnic. They also found out that we could see canons and Bison! And really, if Bison are around, it’s always fun!
I heard a term used the other day called, “roam-schooling” and this is exactly what we did while we were there! We had no agenda other than learning more about the very first city in Kansas and well, of course, seeing the Penitentiary. When we saw something we were interested in, we stopped and explored. Our first point of curiosity led us to the beautiful little chapel located in the V. A. Medical Center.
It was here that the kids were able to admire the gothic architectural style of the chapel and play “I Spy” while studying the stain glass windows and shapes that were visible around the chapel’s exterior.
After the chapel visit, we drove around the Veterans Administration Home property and stopped to read the different monuments erected to honor the Veterans.
The kids were able to get some new vocabulary words in while we read the monuments.
(Veteran, MIA, POW, headstone, sacrifice)
The kids developed a better understanding of the sacrifices that the men and women of service make for our country in order to give us the freedom we sometimes take for granted as Americans. (This may have been the most influential part of our trip.) Sadly, as we drove past endless headstones, we had to explain what the ultimate sacrifice made was. Needless to say, we left the property with a huge sense of appreciation of all of our veterans.
The next stop on our exploration was the Leavenworth Landing by the Missouri River. (We intended on exploring the Veteran Administration property more.. .but alas, extremely hungry kids were no longer willing participants.)
To be honest with you, it was smaller than we expected it to be, but it did not disappoint! There was a really neat map that the kids enjoyed walking on and “traveling” from city to city and state to state. (Hey hey, we even got some geography in while playing on it!)
Our picnic by the river was also really nice! (Except for the aggressive squirrels. They may or may not have made us pack up and get out of their territory sooner than we would have wanted!)
There were 2 play structures that resembled a broken train (there used to be a railroad bridge off of the landing and it appeared to be the end of the tracks at the entranceway). The big kids were able to practice their estimating and measuring skills by guessing how far each railroad tie was from each other and then confirming their estimations by measuring them with a tape measure that we happened to have in our “Roam-School Go Bag”.
After taking in the peacefulness of the river and playing a little frisbee, we decided to continue on our journey to find the penitentiary and the bison. To our surprise, the bison were actually located on Federal property right next door to the penitentiary.
Unfortunately, we did not get a picture of the United States Federal Penitentiary because there were several signs that said taking photos was prohibited. And I am kind of a stickler for rules…especially when it comes to rules being displayed on prison property!
I must say, our last minute trip to the first city in Kansas was a great one! There were more things that would would have liked to have done, but we just ran out of time. 3 stops with 4 kids and a ton of learning in between took us a good 4-5 hours to complete. (I’m tired just thinking about it!) Luckily we are only 45 minutes away, so we will make it back another time.