Monday, April 2, 2012

America: The Story of Us ~ Our Favorite History Resource

If you have followed Journey to Excellence for any length of time, it is no secret that our year has been permeated with our American History studies.

Over a year ago, many of us home educators received a complimentary DVD series from The History Channel called "America: The Story of Us".


Since we typically shy away from textbooks when it comes to Dawson, I knew that I wanted to use this series as the spine for our American History studies this year. So, I got to work. I spent ALL SUMMER last year watching each video and planning Dawson's lessons for the year.

I have never been more in love with American History as I am right now, and it is ALL because of the prompting of that amazing dvd series!

There are twelve episodes, each 45 minutes long. The graphics and sound effects are AWESOME! They are lively, interesting, and so easy to watch! What I really love about them is that they touch on some aspects of history that I have NEVER learned about, instead of just sticking to the basics.

We set up our lessons into three-week units, hoping to cover each episode by the end of the school year. The pre-Civil War era really grabbed us, so we ended up spending twice as much time on it. We will complete 10 of the 12 units by the end of this month. We could have finished the other two, but Dawson really wants to do a unit on the knights of the Middle Ages, so we are going to end our American History lessons then.

We start each three-week unit by watching the video, doing the Discussion Questions found on The History Channel companion website, and defining the vocabulary words. We read a Living Book from that era, and then do as many activities as we can. We focus on notebooking, videos, inventions, photo analysis, field trips and writing projects.

I would imagine most homeschooling families have either just watched the videos as supplements to their studies, or put them aside all together because they didn't really know what to do with them. It is more than possible to use the videos as your entire American History curriculum, with supplementation.

I have done all the hard work for you. Here are the lesson plans I have posted about so far. These are for a HIGH SCHOOL level American History course, but middle school children could easily use them, as well. I will complete 10 of the 12 episodes by the end of the school year, so keep checking back. I usually post a unit's lessons each Saturday. The next installment (Lesson 6, Episode 5) will be this week. Use them. Share them.

Lesson 1: Episode 1 "Rebels
Lesson 2: Episode 2 "Revolution"
Lesson 3: Episode 3 "Westward 1" (We broke this one up into two units)
Lesson 4: Episode 3 "Westward 2"
Lesson 5: Episode 4 "Division"

I even planned out lessons for the whole year for Brynne, who is in the 2nd grade. But, we decided to go another direction for her this year. I will definitely be using the videos again for her and Eli a little later, using the lesson plans I already prepared for their age level.

If you did not receive the complimentary dvd series, you can still do this! It can be purchased from The History Channel site. Or, you can now watch it on Netflix. Our local library also has the series available to be checked out.

This has most certainly been our favorite History Resource this year. Tomorrow you can go see what other TOS Cruisers have chosen as theirs.


5 comments:

  1. Our family loved this series. I agree with you, I have never been more in love or more interested in American History than during this program. We did lots of activities surrouding it and it was really fun for us since we are in NJ and surrounded by lots of this actual history!

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  2. I have heard so many good things about this series. I will be checking out your lesson plans soon - thanks for sharing them!

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  3. Thank you for these great resources! I am really enjoying your blog. I would love to be able to follow your blog. Do you have a way to do that via email updates or any social networking sites?

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  4. What a wonderful resource. Wondering if you happen to go beyond Episode 4? Thanks!

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    1. Here is the link for lessons through Episode 9. That is as far as we were able to get in our school year.
      http://journey2excellence.blogspot.com/search/label/America%3A%20The%20Story%20of%20Us

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