Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bringing History to Life

Last spring, a friend came over for lunch with her kids.  They were several years older than mine and had been watching the end of Ken Burn's series about the Westward Movement at home and needed to return it after their visit.  So, they watched the ending on our television.  The movie did bring the Westward Expansion of the west to life, but it was appropriate for upper elementary/middle/high schoolers.  My children are younger.  They do love history, though, so I am always looking for age appropriate resources.

What supplemental resources are out there if you're a public schooling parent with a younger child who loves history and loves to read?  And what supplemental resources are out there for homeschooling parents who's child is interested in a topic you're not learning about that year?  And then... how do you find the time to enjoy and learn from those "resources"?  

I know many parents might say, "just stop what you're doing, take a break, and go investigate!"  That is definitely one way to pursue learning about what your child loves.  Another way would be to stay the course of your regular curriculum and bring in supplemental listening and reading materials to enjoy during their free time.  Both ways are good and beneficial approaches to learning.  It really depends on you as the teacher and your philosophy about how you want to educate your child and your personality--and the personality of your child.

I happen to be one of those parents that stays the course and pursues other interests in our free time.  On Sunday, we went to a local arts and crafts fair.  Then, we came home and my girls watched an art lesson video.  That was our fun, free time.  I look for fun resources that will help my children do something constructive with their time. 

Over the past few weeks, I've posted three reviews of three separate recordings from Greathall Productions done by Jim Weiss.  Two were fun story recordings; one was a recounting of Italy's artists that shaped history; and the final one I'm going to review today is on the Westward Expansion.

The newest recording by Jim Weiss is Gone West: Bold Adventures of American Explorers and Pioneers.  In this recording, Weiss recounts the stories of the Louisiana Purchase and Lewis and Clark's travels west.  He talks of Sacagawea and her part in the success of their trip.  

It has been twenty years since I've studies American History and so much information seems to have disappeared from my memory in those intervening years.  As my children learn, I learn with them.  It sometimes feels as if there is so much that I never really learned to begin with!  I was particularly struck by Sacagawea's story and her part as Jim Weiss recounts the tale of her part in the expedition.  I appreciated how seamless the storytelling seems for this cd.  Weiss begins with Thomas Jefferson and what he wanted to purchase--and what he ultimately did purchase for the United States.  The story transitions to Lewis and Clark's travels.  History is a story.  It draws us in and we learn from it when we realize what a story it is!

On these recordings Weiss has a way of telling a story and the relevant details in a way that make them easy to understand, process, and remember.  I look forward to listening to Greathall Productions' recordings for the next few years as my children each grow and learn.

If studying the Westward Expansion is anywhere on the horizon of your studies, I'd recommend this cd.  It's a great way to pass the time while you and your kids are in the car!

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this cd for review from Greathall Productions.

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