Previewing Our History Lessons

We are still enjoying our summer break, but that doesn't mean we aren't learning new things!

For the most part, our summer learning has been very laid back and relaxing.  However, one thing I definitely wanted to do over these relaxing weeks was provide our children with an introduction to some of our upcoming history topics, especially for the younger children.  The older two children have been through this time period before, but even so, a refresher can be nice before the school year 'officially' starts.

A few library books we borrowed recently...

Whatever Happened to the Pony Express, by Verla Kay
Using a poetical style, Verla Kay intertwines family letters with a wonderful poem full of strong rhythm and fun descriptive words. This style made the book an enjoyable read aloud with fascinating facts interspersed.  {Personally, I learned about the trial run with camels, which didn't work out and were replaced by horses.}  The extended family's communications span the time period of the pony express.  The family's dilemmas increase with time, and are eventually worked out just as the telegraph and trains completely replace the pony express.  It was a wonderful way to trace the historical developments of delivering mail throughout the continental United States.

Civil War Drummer Boy, by Verla Kay
Another selection by Verla Kay was also a poem.  Civil War Drummer Boy is the story of a young boy who becomes a drummer for the Confederate Army.  Though the book has an adventure feel to it, the reality of war is shared.  Vivid words describe the experiences of Johnny as he signs up, serves, and eventually returns home during the Civil War era.  The ending does leave readers with some hope as the family gathers on a porch to enjoy the flower blossoms and one another.  

A Picture Book of Sam Houston, by David A. Adler and Michael S. Adler
This one was quite the informative picture book biography.  We learned about Houston's political career as governor, senator, and president of Texas. Intertwined amongst these roles, we read about Houston's personal beliefs against slavery and his courage to stand up (and lose his job) because he would not be swayed to sign something he didn't believe: a loyalty oath to the Confederacy.  The illustrations by Matt Collins are superb, soft pictures filled with vibrant colors.

The Cowboy ABC, by Chris Demarest
A fun alphabet book telling about cowboys and the west was another read aloud.  Each page has one letter and one short one sentence per page.  The illustrations show the idea or item of the word highlighted for that letter.  Some of those items are kerchief, lariat, reigns, and tumbleweed.  It was a simple and easy introduction to cowboy and western life for my youngest who will begin kindergarten soon.

Looking at Lincoln, by Maira Kalman
This book was about a young girl who sees a man who reminds her of Lincoln.  This prompts her to research and learn more about Abraham Lincoln.  She shares her findings within the book by narrating them to the reader.  Interesting tidbits, like there are 16, 000 books written about him, are blended with common facts about his schooling.  The main character exudes a fascination and admiration of Lincoln which makes the fact reading enjoyable.  Our children recognized the Lincoln statue referenced to at the end, because we had visited it years ago on one of our trips to D.C.

Not only does this simple preview of a few of our history topics excite our children, it helps me to plan for our upcoming year as I gauge their interest and knowledge.

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