Monthly Archives: November 2009

The Amish Lifestyle

Here at the Visitors Center, we receive a lot of questions about the Amish lifestyle, and how they are raised. I’d like to explain a little bit about that now, because I’m sure that it’s of interest to our blog readers as well!

At an early age, the Amish child is taught to worship God, to love work, and to love the land and farm life, as the Bible connects sin & wickedness with laziness. Amish children do not attend school beyond the elementary grades, although their “elementary” reaches knowledge far beyond our elementary levels. For this reason, they must decide on an occupation early in life, as after the eighth grade, they will work full time.

Sons in most cases follow the occupation of their fathers. The rural form of life is traditional for the Amish, and a lot of them are farmers, although the lack of land is pushing the Amish into other occupations, such as furniture making.

As tractors are not allowed, the Amish work their fields with horses and mules. The Amish were one of the first to realize the importance of rotating corps, and for this reason, their farms remain productive today. Their two-story barns provide storage for hay, grain, straw, farm implements as well as all of their livestock.

Farm work is shared by all of the members of the family. The women and girls keep house, cook, clean, sew, and assist with farming tasks. Using the horse & mule, the men & boys plant, cultivate and reap the crops. Skilled in the use of tools, they build and repair their homes, barns, and chicken houses. The practical training given to the Amish children allows them to assume these responsibilities by the time they reach their teens.

To read more about the Amish lifestyle, click here.

A Trip to the North Museum of Natural History & Science

I had a chance to return to the North Museum of Natural History & Science with my family this past weekend.  The museum, located on the edge of the campus of Franklin & Marshall College near downtown Lancaster, is a fantastic, accessible way to introduce your school-aged children to the world of science.  My oldest son has shown more of an interest in math and science since he’s started first grade (much to the befuddlement of his English teacher mom and his book-loving Dad) so I thought a return trip to the North Museum might be in order.

The North Museum is filled with lots of hands-on activities and displays for kids.  Even my 3-year-old could get into the act.  Sure, he may not be gleaning any of the “science” from his exploits, but he was having fun which is a bonus for any parent who’s ever heard the phrase, “Can we leave yet?”

The first level of the museum contains a live animal room full of snakes, turtles and insects the kids can inspect through the safety of glass enclosures.  A helpful docent was on hand to clue my boys in on lots of interesting facts about the reptiles and amphibians on display.  We also spent a decent amount of time in the “Hall of Cosmos” which had all kinds of interactive displays geared towards those with an interest in space.


The boys also enjoyed the “Light & Sight Gallery” where they got to see what kind of effect ultraviolet light had on their respective clothing.  Having already been in a college dorm room in my lifetime, I was somewhat less shocked and intrigued by the day-glow effect then they were, but it was great fun to see how excited they got nonetheless.

The current traveling exhibit was Attack of the Bloodsuckers, which focused on the science behind insects that… well… enjoy an opportunity to dine on you.  The boys particularly enjoyed seeing the world through a mosquito’s prism-like eyes and sitting on the giant inflating tick (no lie).

We hit pretty much everything in the museum, from the expansive Cabinet Museum on the lower level with a vast collection of birds and bugs and gorgeous geology specimens, to the Dinosaur gallery filled with fossils and a fierce looking T-Rex model.  We finished up our visit with the planetarium (south-central Pennsylvania’s largest), where we learned quite a bit about the stars we see in the skies here in Pennsylvania Dutch County, and got a primer on the different constellations.

All in all, the North Museum of Natural History & Science was a fun (and educational) way for the family to while away a brisk fall afternoon in Lancaster County.

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