Puddle Jump Through Life With Us

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Dutch Village Review and Lessons from Holland


Wooden Shoe - Cooper - Cheese ...  What do all these have in common?  They're all part of the culture from the Netherlands:  Holland to be exact!

My family recently had the pleasure of visiting Dutch Village.  This is a miniature dutch village replica "theme park" in Holland, MI.  I can tell you that if you happen upon a brochure about the place, be prepared because it's even better than anticipated.  To me, it was like a miniature Epcot, focusing only on the Dutch portion - and, much less humidity than the Florida version.  The day we visited, the weather was perfectly cool with a nice breeze, which only added to our enjoyment.

We arrived at the park just before 1:00, and didn't leave until after 5:00 p.m.  While we were there, we learned enough for an entire unit of social studies.  Here's some of the highlights:

We watched an 18 minute movie about Holland (the original Holland in the Netherlands, not the replica in Michigan).  It was a family-friendly movie, complete with a cartoon mouse who was only interested in the cheese from Holland.  The movie had real film footage of the Netherlands as well.  It was very informative and well worth the stop.

The pathway around the Dutch Village then winds around over a canal and toward an outside theater.  The theater has a beautiful street organ which played music while folk dancers performed in wooden shoes.  At the end of the show, they taught us a dance too.  We had a blast, with our musical daddy and two dancing daughters.









Once we got the kids to stop dancing, they enjoyed playing on a huge wooden shoe playground:



And, then came some more learning fun.  We watched how wooden shoes are made, and discovered why they became popular.  One reason was the shortage of leather due to a cow epidemic.  It was also a lesson opportunity in arithmetic, as each shoe was sized in centimeters as well as American sizes.  Another, is because of how wet the Netherlands is, being below sea level, these shoes were more durable.  Regardless of the reason they came about, they make for some fun trying on, wearing, and of course, dancing some more in our own wooden shoes:




We also enjoyed shopping for Dutch clothing:

And, time for more learning.  This time - about cheese.  We were hungry and thirsty by this point, so sampling some authentic dutch cheese sounded terrific.  We ended up buying some Gouda and learning about how cheese is made.  We learned that the craftsmen who made the cheese molds were called coopers.  We learned that the cheese to be sold is sealed in red wax, while the cheese for personal use was sealed in clear wax.  The cheese was wrapped in the shape of a ball, and some can take as long as 18 months to age.  So yummy!

Then, onto more science.  We walked the goats (or, rather, they walked us); pet the bunnies, and watched the little horses.



Of course, we'd be remiss to not mention the amazing artists who came out of the Netherlands:


Then, there was some physical education on the little pumper train cars, and just plain fun.

And, we couldn't resist a family photo in the Wedding Wagon, next to the little Dutch church.  And, of course, a picture of us posing alongside the kissing dutch boy and girl.



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