Upon completion of a tour of the U.S. Capitol Building, you are able to walk through an underground tunnel to get to the Library of Congress. Since the heat index was over 100 degrees this past Saturday, we opted for the tunnel. At the beginning of the tunnel is, of course, a gift shop where you can buy all sorts of paraphernalia with pictures of the Capitol Building. John walked through first. As I was on my way in, he was on his way out and said, "There's nothing worth buying in there." I entered any way because I enjoy window shopping, as do my kids who followed along behind me. I have no use for the things they placed near the front such as bells, mugs, plates, paperweights, etc. When I was a kid, I used to buy mugs as souvenirs. After a few moves as an adult, I got rid of all of them.
As I worked my way around the gift shop, I ended against the back wall where they put all the really good stuff. I don't understand why they do that. This wall had so many different kinds of books I could use for school. There were books about the Capitol, books about history, books about the city of D.C., etc. There were games and other educational tools. This was like finding hidden treasure, for me. I'm a little weird in that way, I suppose. I love to teach, so I am always looking for something to go along with what I am teaching at that point in time, something that will reinforce the words that are spoken so that they will remember the information well into the future.
I found a great little book, A Young Person's Guide to the United States Capitol. It is a small book that details the history of the U.S. Capitol with many pictures and interesting facts about the building in a fun-to-read manner . It contains learning activities and maps as well. You can be sure I picked that up to bring home. It seemed like a bargain to me at only $5.95.
As I perused the gift shop a little further, I also found a game entitled, Expansion of the United States. We are studying the westward expansion of the United States for history this year, so this was perfect. It was only $16.95. It has a thin cardboard map of the United States with many trails and territories marked off. There are 50 cards which have the name of the trail or territory on one side with information about said trail or territory on the back. There is a listing of the major events of westward expansion. There is also a teacher's book that includes teaching activities for further study. My brother said to me, "They're going to know that information after two games." I told him that if they learned it that quickly after two games it was worth the money I paid for it. If it took them 20 games to learn it, it would be worth the money. Either way, if they learn it, it will be worth it. I didn't feel I could have found a better teaching tool to go along with our history study.
We also bought a replica of the Declaration of Independence and one of the Constitution on parchment paper. We will be framing these eventually and hanging them on our walls. They were only $4.00, not $35.00 like in National Treasure with Nicholas Cage.
So, when you choose to enter a gift shop, dig your way past all the trinkets and junk in the front of the store and make your way to the back where all the really good treasures are hiding!