Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Learn Our History Review

                 With the Presidential election this fall, I thought it would be a great idea for the kids to do a study on our Constitution, how our government is run, and how a President is elected.  After all, the more educated a person is on how the government works, the more likely they are to take part in it. Not that I would push my kids to run for public office, but I want to make sure that my kids understand that when they will be of voting age their votes will mean something.  I want them to know that we are very lucky to be able to live in a country where we choose our leaders.


                 Last year we studied the events that lead to the Revolutionary War, so they learned how unfair it was to have a King that could make laws based on what he was feeling at the time.  They agreed that it wasn't fair that the colonists had no voice in making the laws.

                 As I was looking for material for our government study, I came across the "Learning Our History" DVD series.  Anytime I come across something that would work great for our school plan, I think "this is great!". If I find myself excited about a book or product, I know I will be able to project that enthusiasm to the kids.  When I can involve television or a computer in the mix, they are so there!

                  The "Learn Our History" DVD series is just that, a series of DVD's that teach kids about the history of the United States, from the time of Christopher Columbus to the present.  When you purchase a DVD, they also automatically allow online streaming of the DVD.  So while you are waiting for the DVD to come in the mail you can already watch it on the computer.

                  This past week the kids learned about the three branches of government, and we were learning about the roll of the President so I thought it was a great time to view "Election Day: Choosing Our President".  The kids weren't about to say no to a movie.  I used the online streaming on our laptop since the DVD hadn't been delivered yet.

                  My kids are used to watching Disney films with the amazing animation, so I was not sure how they would react to the video.  It seemed a lower quality animation, although it was online streaming, so maybe that was a factor.  Regardless of my first impression of the video quality,  my kids did not seem to notice. The story really kept their attention.

                   The main characters are 4 high school kids that time travel to historical times in United States History.  This specific story is about the election of the Student Body President.  One person is running so far.  This students platform, Barry,  wanted to offer the kids the abolishment of  grades.  He apparently thought that that would be a popular idea that would get him elected school President. Basically, why should some students get good grades and not others?  I asked my kids at this point if they thought that it was a good idea to get rid of grades.  They said "no". 

                   The teacher assigns the kids to learn about our election process, from Caucuses and Primaries, to Conventions, and the election.  The kids do this by traveling through time.  They meet famous historical figures like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Abraham Lincoln.  They learn, and thus our kids learn such things as how our present political parties started, why we have Presidential debates, what our electoral college is, and numerous other facts pertaining to the election process.  The kids take this knowledge and use it to deal with their present day issue at school, the election of their Student Body President.

                    The story is engaging.  The characters are likeable.  It is written well for kids to understand what was going on.  The writing wasn't patronizing and it wasn't too complicated where they would look at me and say "I don't understand".  They are 9 and 11.

                    I know that it was a great video when they requested to watch it again.  They also wanted to watch the video on Columbus that we received at no cost when we purchased the "Election Day" DVD.

                    Right now, Learn Our History, is offering the DVD at no cost.  You just pay shipping and handling costs.  It is kind of like a movie club in that a new history DVD is offered to you every month.  They email you 10 days before they will ship a DVD to let you know which one it is, and you decide whether or not you want it.  You can also call them and tell them that you do not want the subscription.

                   With the online streaming, there are discussion questions on the topic, a download of a quiz and a debate game.   There are also links to get more information on the subject and historical figures.

                  If you are interested in teaching your kids about the election process, this DVD will definitely make them more knowledgeable on the subject.The addition of the free teaching materials is just a great bonus. 


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