It’s that time of the week again to showcase another educational gift idea! This week I am focusing on an experience gift that could be used for an entire family – or just the kids (if you’re the parent/s).
Experiences are a great gift idea because it usually involves doing something with your family and this is the glue that keeps a family close-knit. What you may decide to gift in terms of experience gifts is largely going to depend on where you live, age of those involved, and their interests.
I have very fond memories of walking around Sovereign Hill when I was about 10. We were only there for a day and in all honesty I think two days would provide a better experience to do and see everything that is there. Sovereign Hill is in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia.
The gift shop is completely free to go into and buy what you like – so if you are only passing through Ballarat and just have an hour or so to spend – this is a great idea. They have a fantastic range of souvenirs but what I liked most was the teaching resources and books they have available.
I picked up Discovering Gold and The Gold Rushes: A Cutout & Activity Book by Olga and Mark Fox when I was there. I had never seen either book anywhere before and they are both really well written. I really like the models that can be made – from people in outfits to building scenes – it makes teaching about the goldfields of Australia just that little bit more exciting. Unfortunately both books are a little difficult to source elsewhere so if you spot them – grab them!
While I was there I also picked up a copy of the DVD lightshow (as we weren’t staying long enough to watch it) of Blood on the Southern Cross as well as a little kit – I would take a photo but I remember putting it in a very safe spot to keep my kids out of the ink…and I can’t remember where exactly it is!
The Gold Museum is about $13 (AUD) to enter (I’ll link to the website at the bottom of the post which has all the up-to-date prices).
Honestly, you can easily spend a day just in the museum which is why I recommend taking the two days! The museum is very informative with lots to look at, interact with, and things to learn. Probably more suited to ages 8 and up it’s well worth visiting for the historical side of things.
Okay, so this is the most interesting part (for me anyway). I’ve been through a few historical villages/pioneer villages in Australia and I have to say that Sovereign Hill’s is by far the best. Other places have the buildings set up so you can look but they feel as though history is dead. At Sovereign Hill you can interact and talk with the employees who are dressed up in period costumes.
There are many activities you can have a go at including panning for gold, riding in a horse-driven coach, and going into a mine (some of these cost extra to do by the way). By far my favourite thing to do though is get all dressed up in period clothes and have a photo taken! I adore the one my family had done when we went there and plan to return with my kids to do the same thing – if you only allow for one extra – make sure it’s this one!
For many students, and children in general, history is a subject they either hate or learn to hate. Australia’s history is not a particularly pleasant one. Like many countries bloodshed and violence made for the beginning of the land that has come to be called Australia. History though is such an important learning point for students as it brings together the ancient history of the indigenous nations and the European colonisation of Australia. It can be linked to the current refugee plight and immigration making real world connections for kids.
After all, in the words of George Santayana:
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.