It's our 5th grade year and we are focusing on American history. He is taking an online live class through Currclick that is covering American History in the 20th century; he's learning about Henry Ford, Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh, the Wright Brothers, etc. and is enjoying his teacher and classmates very much. That chat box is a little too much fun, if you ask me. The teacher is very observant, though, and shuts down the chat when her students are getting too squirrely. It's a neat class and we are both learning a lot. I'm chagrined at how little I remember about American history, so this is good for both of us.
I acquired the above DVD from the folks at the History Channel this summer. They were running a give away (as in free!) for homeschoolers and teachers in the hopes of offering a unique look at history. I'm very glad I signed up for the DVD - it's going to be a very good resource for the year.
Today we started in the 1600's when the first colonists made their way over from England to this land of ours. I remember romanticized tales about the Pilgrims, how they planted crops, built their homes, made themselves comfortable in their new environment. I distinctly remember a pilgrim unit we did in second grade wherein we made applesauce, churned butter and wore costumes. I don't remember any mention of the harsh conditions the pilgrims were subjected to, the disease and hunger that nearly wiped them out, their inability to grow food until the native Americans lent them a helping hand. I also don't remember much detail about life in Jamestown and how unruly it was. In a book store two weeks ago I was browsing a history section for kids and saw books with covers illustrating brightly colored, happy pilgrims gaily carrying baskets of food to the 'Thanksgiving' table. I'm wondering why history is taught this way, in such a gentled-down manner. Just wondering.
Today, Max got a good dose of what it was probably really like back then. Not so easy! Frightening and challenging most days - man vs. wild without back up camera crews to rescue you. These people were incredibly determined and committed to their beliefs and to carving out a new and better life in a harsh new world. I am awed by the hardships they withstood. I am glad for a DVD such as this that helps to create a realistic look at history.
Max was fascinated by the Revolutionary War, by General George Washington, and by the mention of Ben Franklin and all that he did in his lifetime. That Ben was prolific! What an incredible mind. It's wonderful to learn about our founding fathers, both their contributions and their personal faults (because we all have them, don't we?). Seeing the mighty Red Coats succumb to the Rebels over time was very interesting - a war that didn't seem possible to win. Ingenuity, use of cleverness and resources, great leadership and a passionate need to stand on our own all contributed to the making of this country.
I much prefer history in this format. Real, palpable, stimulating, question-inducing. We had to keep hitting the pause button while Max asked questions or commented on something. It was GREAT!
Cameo appearances throughout the DVD are an added bonus for the most part. Although, admittedly, I kind of smirked when Donald Trump chirped in about success. He was in the company of Colin Powell, General Patraeus, Barack Obama, etc. He seemed like an outlier to me, but that was all part of the fun. Max wanted to know who he was and what was up with his hair - I know, that's not very nice.......
Next we move on to Westward expansion. We are reading the Little House on the Prairie series together, so it's all tied together wonderfully. Max is also reading a book called The Cabin Faced West as part of his 20th century history class, so he's getting it from all sides. Surround sound history! I feel very lucky to be able to go back and learn this material all over again, only in a much more fun and interesting way this time.
By all means, check out this DVD from the library and watch it as a family. I think we all need to be reminded of how this country was formed, about the foundation upon which it is built. It's stirring stuff!