Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lost but not forgotten

I wrote this small blog entry back in January but for some reason, never posted it. I don't think it was intentionally skipped but I'm glad I just discovered the issue because I have more to add. So here's the original post from Jan 30:

An interesting thing happened yesterday that is the perfect example of how we learn things around here. Many of you have asked, "What if your child doesn't want to...learn about the civil war (for example)?" I'm glad you asked. ;)

Yesterday morning, we had beautiful weather. Though it was very windy, it was in the upper 60's, unheard of for January in STL. So the kids ran outside and got to blow some cabin fever off. While they were out there, I took the opportunity to do some housework and turned on the TV for some company. "Planet of the Apes" was on and though I've seen parts here and there and I know the gist of the story, I've never seen the whole movie. So I chose that to watch (for, as many of you SAHMs know, there's basically NOTHING worth watching during the week day mornings).

The kids came in a while later, Matthew first. He asked what show I was watching. I told him the name. He asked me what the story was about and I told him. He asked why the apes were talking and wearing clothes. We discussed that as well. He started to get really interested in it, eventually asking why the human was being treated so badly. This led to a really interesting discussion about slavery.

I found it hard and embarrassing to explain the actions of our forefathers but it was a really good talk. I'm sure, that at the age of 7.5, the Civil War has more meaning for him than most of his peers in school, who won't touch the subject for five more years.

As I mentioned a few posts back, Matthew told me that he wanted to study the US Presidents in succession, starting with Washington. I have to say that it's quite a challenge (in my library at least) to find good living books about Presidents.
Living Books = books that are well-written and engaging---they absorb the reader---the narrative and characters "come alive"; living books are the opposite of cold, dry textbooks.

But I was able to find one for Washington, Adams and Jefferson, as well as a historical fiction about Jefferson's childhood that looks promising. When I brought them home, Matthew was excited to get started on Washington. He glanced at the other books and picked up the Jefferson one and said, "Oh yeah, this was the one who was President in the Civil War." I started to say, "No," but he cut me off saying, "No, no...that was Lincoln." The kid has an amazing memory. I'm not sure if it was from our original talk about The Planet Of The Apes or a book along the way or something else but he made a connection because the information was important to the story line or the wasn't just a list of facts and dates that someone said he needed to know in seventh grade. The information was presented in a living book form: The details absorbed him and the players came alive...the opposite of cold, dry textbooks.

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