We finally were able to start our US History Study.
I started by helping the kids understand the concept of history and how things can change over time. Georgie is pretty good with this concept since he often mentions how there weren’t computers when mom and dad were young.
We’ve had a timeline up over our fireplace for a few months and we added some family dates to it. Starting with the most recent, we worked our way backwards from Vicki’s birth in 2007, all the way to Pop-pop Nelson’s birth in 1933.
Next we read the book Then and Now, and discussed the different ways things have changed. When we started reading the book, George noticed the chimney sweep and observed “It’s like Charles Dickens time!”. He learned about Charles Dickens from reading one of his Magic Tree House books (A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time). I’m glad to see he is retaining something from his reading and is able to apply that knowledge.
My version of the book is from 1990, so we also had fun pointing out all the things that are currently different from the Now pages. George mainly noticed the television was much bigger (thicker) than ours are (we have all flat screens), and there were no computers. I pointed out the big boom box radios instead of modern mp3 players.
We discussed all the different ways that we know about what is was like in recent history including stories passed down in families, writings, and photographs. We then discussed how we knew about history farther back in time. Since it hasn’t been that long since we did prehistory, George had a few suggestions but we still read through the “What is Archeology?” section from Story of the World.
We read from The Complete Book of United States History, “People Arrive in the Americas”, which discussed the land bridge that possibly allowed people to come across the Bering Strait during the last Ice Age.
At the end of the lesson, it suggested doing a research project on Ice Age animals. Since I’m pretty comfortable with Georgie’s ability to do Internet research (and I didn’t want to let him near the computer until we had done everything else I wanted to accomplish), I had him use the Magic Tree House Fact Tracker – Sabertooths and the Ice Age to get information on Sabertooth tigers and Wooly Mammoths.
He looked up a few facts on each that we then wrote on index cards.
-over 4,500 frozen mammoths have been discovered in Siberia
-belong to the elephant family
-were found in Siberia, Europe, and North America
-had long, shaggy hair that could get as much as 3 feet long
-were big, fierce cats
-named for their large canine teeth shaped like sabers (swords)
-these teeth could get about 9 inches long
-the most common type is called Smilodon.
I pulled out our globe to show the kids where the Bering Strait is located. Since all our maps are oriented so that Alaska and Russia are on opposite sides, the globe made it much easier to see how close they really are. The kids grabbed some of the toys from our Prehistoric Life toob and had the mammoth and sabertooth tiger marching across the land bridge and fighting the cavemen for food.
I also pulled out “The First People Arrive in America” map from our Scholastic Interactive 3-D Maps: American History. I didn’t actually put the map together to be 3D since the kids had the toob figures. While they played with the map, I asked them some questions about our lesson from the “Teaching with the Map” section.
We finished up by watching a short video about the arrival of the first peoples from The McGraw-Hill video library and playing the Ice Age Challenge game at the Simon Fraser University Museum of Archeology and Ethnology site.
Over the next few weeks (months?) we will continue our US History studies by learning about Native Americans.