Rawlins Family

Rawlins Family

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Revolutionary War unit and book review

We've been having so much fun with some of our units, I've decided to keep track of them here.

Our journey to finding a good history course has been long and annoying. We tried Joy Hakim's The History of US. It's a wonderful series, and one I will use with my kids as they get older. However, it wasn't a good fit for our family at this point, so we abandoned it. In the end, we decided to use a literature-based approach and do our own thing for US history (and probably all history going forward). Along the way, we found some fantastic resources, and had a great time!

Books we loved:
Jean Fritz has written a slew of excellent children's books. We are big fans! We read Where was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May?; Why Don't You Get a Horse, Sam Adams; Sign Here, John Hancock; and George Washington's Breakfast. We own, but didn't get around to What's the Big Idea, Ben Franklin; and And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? We also didn't get into Why Not, Lafayette? because it was a little over the kids' heads.
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If you've never heard me say it before, let me say it again: WE LOVE THE WHO WAS... SERIES FROM GROSSET & DUNLAP. We read bios of Paul Revere, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington.
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As a family, we listened to Johnny Tremain. I somehow escaped childhood without ever reading it. Cameron was originally going to read My Brother Sam is Dead but disliked it and read Give Me Liberty by LM Elliot instead. Miles' assigned personal reading was a Magic Tree House fact tracker book on the American Revolution. Together, the boys read George Washington: Spymaster for a book club we hosted. And we finished up with a few supplemental items from Kids Discover magazine: American Revolution!, and TIME magazine for kids. Kids Discover magazine has free vocabulary cards and lesson guides to go with several of their editions. Cameron used the vocab cards and the boys both completed the worksheets found here: http://www.kidsdiscover.com/free-lesson-plans/ . We found additional worksheets for the girls at education.com.

For the littlest (and biggest) among us, we read several great picture books. When Washington Crossed the Delaware, Let it Begin Here! The Battles of Lexington and Concord, The Scarlet Stocking Spy, Geroge vs. George, and The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere which was beautifully illustrated by Christopher Bing.

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Liberty's Kids series from PBS, and American Ride from BYUtv were favorites and helped provide a visual reinforcement for what we were reading. We also watched a reenactment video on YouTube. It would have been cooler in real life, but I'm glad we watched it.

Activities/Field trips:
Certainly nothing brought history alive more than our trip north over the summer! Walking the grounds of Valley Forge, PA; Philadelphia; Mount Vernon; and Washington, D.C. was an incredible experience for my kids, and has given us something to refer to when we discuss the events that occurred in those places. (pictures to come...blogger is being super lame at the moment)

This Valley Forge, PA. This was the Continental Army headquarters during the brutal winter of 1777-78. Washington stayed in that house, and the soldiers stayed in small huts. Soldiers had little clothing, little food, and endured sickness. Thomas Paine wrote, "These are the times that try men's souls..." the previous winter, but I can't imagine a time more trying than the winter spent at Valley Forge.

Independence Hall! There's just something cool about walking around a building where Ben Franklin hung out.

Three or four kids ago I never would have dreamed of dragging a baby on a month-long vacation. But this particular baby makes everything easy. She slept on and off all day, only cried when hungry, and never seemed bothered by the heat or her stroller. Dreamy, dreamy baby Emilyn.

The Liberty Bell.

This is the "Declaration House." It's the boarding house where Thomas Jefferson was staying when he penned the Declaration. It's located next to the Free Library of Philadelphia, which, as my sister Alyssa pointed out, is poetic. Did you know our Library of Congress was started by good ole' Tom? A great book about that is Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library.

The tomb of Ben Franklin. It's covered in coins, but I'm not sure why. We couldn't get into the actual cemetery without paying a ridiculous sum, so we stayed outside the bars.

While in Philadelphia, we went to The Friends Meetinhouse - an active Quaker congregation still meets there.

This is an inexplicable cat fountain in the courtyard in front of Betsy's house. My niece thought it looked like a nice cat.

The burial site of Betsy Ross is located right in front of her house. It was a quick visit, and the actress playing Betsy was so snarky with me! I don't think she liked the questions I was asking.

To finish up our unit, we decided to create a picture timeline on our wall. We first time-lined the events. Then, the kids picked one or two battles or events that they wanted to draw, and those were placed on the timeline as well. Cameron - being a big 5th grader this year - was assigned an oral presentation of all the material we studied.

While we enjoyed learning in such depth about this topic, we are all ready to move on. We'll do a brief unit on the Constitution before heading into the Westward Expansion/Native Americans/Pioneers/Gold Rush...

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