We started our day at the Visitor Center to get our passes for the Independence Hall. Tickets are free, but timed entry, so we wanted to make sure we didn't miss this. Since it was a weekday in late spring, we only had to wait about 30 minutes for our time, but if you go in the height of summer, get to the center as early as possible -- tickets go quickly! While you're there, you can pick up your tasks for the Junior Ranger program. Jude got the "big kid" workbook, while still-kindergartener Damien received an abridged version. They barely made it out of the walkway before they started working.
After a a few minutes to play in the kids' corner to get our wiggles out, we were off to see where our country was born!
Security is reasonably tight - only small bags are permitted (and they are all scanned in an X-ray machine), and pockets need to be emptied before walking through a metal detector. After we passed through, we had a few minutes before it was time for our group to enter. Jude took advantage of the wait and worked on his packet some more.
When we got inside, the Ranger began asking from what states did the people present come? I was so proud of Jude when he put his hand up, waited for the Ranger to call on him, and said, "I'm from New Jersey, one of the 13 original colonies!"
Damien was interested to see where the Declaration of Independence was revised and signed, but Jude was absolutely enthralled. Most of the Founding Fathers are his heroes, so to stand in the same room where they signed the Declaration was just a huge deal to him! I wish I had gotten a picture of him with his mouth agape.
One of the questions in Jude's Junior Ranger book was "How many tables were there?" He looked at me and said, "13, of course! One for each colony!"
After touring Independence Hall, we wandered about Old City. I pointed out this statue of Benjamin Franklin at the Philosophical Society. After we got home, I realized my picture was photobombed by a postal truck. How appropriate!
I was proud of Jude for reading all of the signs to us!
We headed over to Franklin Court, built on the grounds of Ben Franklin's house. Ben is a particular favorite of Jude's, so this was pretty awesome for him.
Looking down into the preserved foundations of Franklin's house.
Throughout the courtyard were slate tiles with famous quotes from Dr. Franklin's correspondence, and the observations of his friends.
You're never to old to build a library!
Franklin Court has been newly refurbished, so we enjoyed exploring it. Our host was a squirrel named "Skuggs", the common name for this critter in Franklin's time.
Skuggs was stationed around the building, pointing out important details about Dr. Franklin. For example, he showed us about how Franklin came to live in Philadelphia, and his family.
We got to see one of Franklin's Armonicas. Jude also got to play a touch-screen version!
Skuggs also pointed the way to a virtual printing press.
Type is set upside down and backwards, so that when it is pressed face-down onto the paper, your words come out right-side-around.
Not to be left out, Damien had a turn.
Jude didn't realize Ben Franklin had so many pseudonyms. He reminded us, "A pseudonym is a fake name you used so the King didn't know who you were when you called him stupid!" Close enough! He recognized the name Silence Dogood, but he thought Fart-Hing was a funny name. Boys!
Jude recognized this item. He said, "That's the chair that they carry Dr. Franklin in, you know, on the show!" (The "show" is Liberty's Kids, one of his favorites.)
We sat for a few minutes, and the boys filled out the pages on Ben. There is a page in the Junior Ranger book, and a separate page distributed at Franklin Court. Of course, we had to fill them both out.
After our visit to Franklin Court, I realized we were very close to a sweet childhood memory of mine. When I was a child, I used to visit Shane's Candies, in the first block of Market Street, with my father. They had my mother's favorite chocolates, and sometimes I went with him when he bought her a box for her birthday, a holiday, or just because. It was like a walk down memory lane to go there with the boys. Of course, we had to get a box of candy for Grammy.
After our visit to Shane's, we wandered back down towards the Liberty Bell. There are no tickets needed to view the Bell, but it was crowded with other students going for a last-minute visit before assembling to get on busses. We decided to eat our lunch while wait for them to finish, and then we went in.
Jude had one last page to fill out...a scramble of the inscription around the top of the Liberty Bell. He stepped aside to tie his shoe, and found an exhibit that announced the inscription in many languages. Not one to let opportunity pass, he parked himself in front and began to work on the puzzle.
He checked his work by carefully walking around the Liberty Bell.
He was right! It was a match!
One more photo, and we headed outside.
As we walked back towards Market Street, I saw a barrier with the park name and the NPS Arrowhead. Knowing I'd be sharing our trip here, I thought it would make a nice part of a collage picture. I asked the boys to stand by it, thinking they would flank the sides. Damien decided to stand near Jude, but he wasn't too interested in a photo.
I told them I had one more surprise. We walked down Market Street for a block or so, and came to the house where Thomas Jefferson actually wrote the Declaration of Independence. Jude was beside himself with excitement.
Damien, however, wasn't quite as thrilled. I think he had enough history for one day.
We walked back towards the Visitor's Center. After a few minutes to check that they had answered all their questions, we went to the Ranger Desk to have them checked. Both boys were sworn in and are now official Independence National Historical Park Junior Rangers.
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