One of the main themes of classical education is repetition. We re-learn things over and over and each time, hopefully, we understand it better and make more connections to others things we’ve learned. In elementary school, we do that through a three year cycle. Every three years, we start over at the beginning and re-learn the same things again. But we do different projects and we take different field trips and make it all interesting again. Plus, the kids are three years older each time and understand it a little better. One of the greatest things about this model is that all the kids can be learning the same thing. While my four year old might be learning to recite a short poem about the pilgrims, my ten year old may be writing a short, factual paper about the journey on the Mayflower. Meanwhile, my twelve year old is learning to write persuasive essays, so she could write an argument on whether or not the Pilgrims should even have come at all. Their assignments are all different but we can all sit together and listen to The Story of the World chapter on the Pilgrims. Classical education draws us together as a family rather than segregating us by age and grade. There is no “you are too little for this” and there is no “I’m too old for this.”
And because we can all learn the same things together regardless of our age, we can take really awesome field trips that are interesting to everyone because we are all focused on the same subject matter!
So when I realized that we’d be just about 1.5 hours from Plymouth a few months before beginning a cycle on American history, I knew what we had to do! We just HAD to go to Plymouth Rock! I’m ashamed to admit that I lived in New England for eighteen years and never once stepped foot in Plymouth. What?!? Shameful. I know. It’s nearly unforgivable.
So we loaded up in the car and headed to Plymouth. We were already in Rhode Island for the week, so it was not too far of a drive. We chose the wrong way to go, though, and there was a terrifying traffic circle that was almost impossible to navigate. I highly recommend checking Google maps and making sure you choose a way that avoids all traffic circles!!!
We spent the drive singing our history memory work about the Pilgrims and listening to The Story of the World chapters about that time period. I believe we started back a bit in England and carried on through the Mayflower Compact.
Know before you go: there’s no free parking in Plymouth. But parking costs are not outrageous, either. It’s $1/hour regardless of which lot you choose. Street parking has meters, so bring change!
How to find the rock itself: Quite literally, just follow the crowd. Everybody is walking there. That makes it pretty easy to find! Also, the rock is covered by a roof held up with pillars.
Unfortunately, on our trip, the area was under construction. That was a bit of a let down because our pictures are weird. Oh well. The rock itself is underwhelming, to say the least. It is literally just a rock with “1620” etched in it.
Thankfully the town has a lot to offer and the drive was well worth it.
One of the cooler things to do was come up the hill and look down at the rock and the surrounding area. I think we had to put a quarter into the machine to get it to work. Being up so high gave us a spectacular view of the ocean and everything else.
Another fun thing we discovered was a Lobster Crawl. We stopped at the tourism center, which was right by the rock, and grabbed a map. Then we set off searching for all the different lobsters. This ended up being a great activity. Not only did we get fun pictures with the different lobsters, we also went down streets and around corners we may not have if we weren’t looking for the lobsters–and we would’ve missed so much of Plymouth!
It also walked us by different businesses we may not have spotted. We ended up discovering Cupcake Charlie’s, which has been voted New England’s best cupcakes. I got a creamsicle cupcake that was out of this world. And I don’t even typically eat cake, I’m just not really a fan. (not me in the picture, that’s my aunt!)
We ate lunch at The Shanty Rose Pub… they don’t have a website, or I’d share it! The portions were huge and the service was great. Seafood that close to the ocean is never cheap but my motto in life is “Don’t eat the seafood if you can’t see the sea” so you have to suck it up and pay for that fresh food! Also, they have hot dogs and such for the kids. Whew!
And of course the kids had to go touch “the same water the Pilgrims touched” (I know this is not scientifically accurate but it’s still a fun thought. Plus, a bunch of kids growing up in the midwest need to touch the ocean every chance they get).
We wandered in and out of a lot of the shops. Most of them contained a million and one items with “1620” or “Plymouth” written on them. One thing I found interesting was how many items there were that said Cape Cod–I’ve never really considered Plymouth part of the Cape. But I guess I was wrong? Geographically, it doesn’t really make sense. It’s north and not part of the “hook” of Massachusetts at all. But I’m no expert on Cape Cod, so what do I know? 🙂
There was a nice shady park area near the rock where you could sit and relax. We enjoyed that spot–and the view–very much.
Overall, a day in the town of Plymouth is highly recommended, as long as your not expecting the sight of Plymouth Rock to be a life changing experience. The town as a whole has a lot to offer, though, so definitely check it out some time. And if you’ve lived in New England for any amount of time and haven’t seen it yet–you aren’t the only one. But honestly… go see it. Don’t live among all that history and ignore it!