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"Children do not need to learn to be better, told what to do or shown how. If they are given access to enough of the world, they will see clearly enough what things are truly important to themselves and to others, and they will make for themselves a better path into that world than anyone else could make for them." John Holt

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         James K. Polk Home and Museum, Columbia, TN

Recently my family and I got to visit the James K. Polk Home and Museum in Columbia, TN. This is not the boyhood home of the 11th president but where he resided with his parents after returning from the University of North Carolina until he married Sarah Childress.

This is a great opportunity to explore history first hand as guests will be able to see the largest collection of Polk artifacts in the country.

Picture of the younger president with some of the Polk family artifacts

Our visit started with a short documentary which gave us some background information on James K. Polk and his contributions to the country during his pregnancy. After the video, we were taken on a guided tour of the home by the director himself. Mr. Holtzapple's enthusiasm for history and the former president was quite evident and the stories he shared about the Polk family was what really made history come alive. He kept the children engaged in what at first glance had looked like rooms of old furniture.

             Sarah Polk's Piano where she would entertain her guests

We were then able to tour the rest of the ground on our own including the Sister's house visitor center, the detached kitchen, and the gardens. The gardens are absolutely beautiful, full of white flowering azalias! My daughter loved the hands on display in the kitchen showing all of the different herbs that were used in the 1800's and their many uses. She left inspired to start her own herb garden! Upon leaving we spent quite a bit of time "window shopping" in the awesome gift shop. It is full of historical toys, games, and documents.

The Polk Home and Museum welcomes visitors year round and you can find more information on pricing and planing your visit HERE.

Note that in an attempt to make the home accessible to all families their is a special rate of $25 per family regardless of the number of children you bring.

If you are a group of 10 or more you are eligible for a special discount on admission with advanced reservations.You can find pricing and more information HERE. I was also told that homeschool or school group tours could be accomidated to relate to your studies or feature special hands on activities in the kitchen. (Advance notice required!)