What We’re Reading–The Fourth of July

Every summer around Independence Day, I like to make sure that the children are learning about the time of the American Revolution (and the time from about the French and Indian War until about the time of the War of 1812, just to provide some context), even if we’re also doing something else in summer school. We’ve found quite a few books that we all enjoy that focus on that period of time, as well as American symbolism and history in general:

Of course, we have to add a few DVDs to our studies:

And a few CDs, as well:

While we don’t have lots of special activities and crafts in school for this holiday like we do for Thanksgiving or Christmas, it is one of my five favorite holidays of the year, so I like to make sure we’re at least doing a little something special! Stay tuned for details on our Fourth of July tea party!

A Revolutionary War Memorial

There’s a war memorial in Cahokia, Illinois. Now, I know that doesn’t sound particularly unusual, but it’s not just any war memorial…it is, in part, a Revolutionary War memorial. We don’t see too much of that this far west! Of course the main focus of the Revolutionary War portion of this memorial is George Rogers Clark’s (the “Conqueror of the Northwest), Illinois campaign, which eventually led, in part, to our alliance with France which helped end the war, and the near-doubling of the colonies.

The best part of this memorial (in my opinion), is the old flag:


I love finding these hidden treasures around the St. Louis area!

Homeschool Review: “A More Perfect Union”

As a part of our summer school unit, which focused on the Revolutionary War, and the events surrounding it, we learned a little bit about the Constitution. I found a book focused on how the Constitution was written, as well as who was involved in writing it, and the basic contents of it.

A More Perfect Union: The Story of Our Constitution (part of “The American Story Series”) was written and illustrated by Betsy and Giulio Maestro, a duo who have written a whole series about the early history of America. It is targeted at middle to upper elementary aged students, and Turkey and Bunny found it very interesting. It is very factual, and yet written in a way and on a level that makes it interesting to children.

The illustrations are great, and add interest to the story. The timeline in the back of the book is a great concise help in seeing the big picture of the Revolutionary War, and the early years of America as a free country. Basically, everything about the books is both interesting to children, and full of information–a great way to encourage children to learn without even realizing they’re doing so, and make history come alive for them!

This was a great resource for learning about a very important part of American history–I’m so glad I took a chance on it! There are six other books in the series, covering the history of America from her pre-history to discovery by Columbus to the War of 1812, and everything in between, including the French and Indian War. I can’t wait to add those to our library as well–these are definitely books that the children will want to read over and over again!

Homeschool Review: “Liberty’s Kids”

We finished watching the Liberty’s Kids series on DVD last week, and I can’t find enough good things to say about it! It was a great introduction to early American history for Turkey and Bunny (and Ladybug, who insisted on watching with them)–they are now familiar with the major players and places in the Revolutionary War.

The story uses a group of fictional characters–mostly children–to interact with real people in American history to tell the story of the American revolution, often from the perspective of an aspiring journalist. Turkey and Bunny loved these characters, but even more than that, they loved learning about the real characters that fought and founded our country. Turkey is fascinated with George Washington and the Battle of Yorktown, while Bunny was thrilled to learn about women such as Abigail Adams, “Molly Pitcher,” and Sybil Luddington, who impacted the war in their own unique ways.

I discovered that I also learned a great deal from the series. I don’t know if I just forgot that much of what I learned in school, or if my education wasn’t that in-depth, but I picked up on many new details, and have a greater understanding of the bigger picture of the things that affected the war. I suppose I should be embarrassed that I learned so much from a children’s show, but learning is learning, and I’ll take it any way I can!

I highly recommend this series to anyone who has a child that they want to help learn about the key points of the Revolutionary War. I only hope that someday, the rumored Civil War edition of this show might be produced!

Fort de Chartres

Thanks to Moose’s teacher, I found out about a great location for a field trip related to our Revolutionary War themed summer school. Fort de Chartres, near Prairie du Rocher, was originally a French fort, then fell into the hands of the British, and finally was taken by George Rogers Clark during the Revolutionary War.

I am so glad she told me about this location–I was despairing of the fact that I couldn’t figure out any field trip in our area that relates to the American Revolution, and it never occurred to me to look into French settlements that existed at that time in history.

We had a great time–there was a small museum, with cool artifacts and reproductions, and several buildings open to tour, including the oldest known building in Illinois, the former armory. Turkey and Bunny also had fun playing around with the cannons on the property, and climbing stairs and ladders to get to the top of the fort wall. It was a great start to our Independence Day weekend!