History.... American history. Who'd a thunk it could be so interesting?? I'm having having a ball with this stuff (and I think my boys are even enjoying it!), so so much more than I did eons ago when I was in grammar school!
So, as I mentioned the other week, the boys and I started this year's study with the birth of our nation. We reviewed the Declaration of Independence (1776) and our desperate need for it, the flimsy Articles of Confederation, the leadership of bold & daring men during the Constitutional Convention and the timeless document they produced. We then took a look at our first president, the rise of political parties, and the enormous growth and change that ensued. Together we read extensively about those early years and the men who shaped this great nation, and-- as a quick aside-- I've gotta tell ya... I can't seem to find a single soul today (in our political realm, I mean) who even closely resembles-- in character or integrity-- those early pioneers. Washington, Adams, Jefferson-- three extraordinary men with brilliant, disciplined minds. Flawed, yes. But courageous patriots nonetheless... who fought for what they believed in (not for what was politically expedient) with every fiber of their being. Me thinks we could use a few more like them today!
Anyhoo... after covering the first 15 years (or so) of our nation's history, and after learning a bit about Jefferson's early years (including his rise to the presidency), we tackled two huge topics which are most certainly credited to our third president-- the Louisiana Purchase (the most significant land purchase of all time) and the Lewis & Clark Expedition. To learn more about both, we read tons of books, we colored maps, we traced travel routes, we discussed motives and consequences, we checked out websites, we watched a movie... and as a result, we now know a lot more than we did when we started (including me!). In fact, most every day I am absolutely amazed... just how much I learn alongside my kids. It's really quite remarkable!
Well. At my request, the boys tackled a construction project with their dad to reinforce and supplement their studies. I stumbled across some basic directions for building a keelboat out of balsa wood-- a near representation of the 55-foot flatboat Lewis & Clark used on their adventure down the Missouri River. The guys measured and cut, they glued and re-glued, they taped and they tied, and when it was all said and done, they had a nice little keelboat-of-a-trophy to display on their bookshelf. Not bad for a few hours work!
And in case anyone's looking to learn more about Jefferson, the Louisiana Purchase, or the Lewis and Clark Expedition (on a fairly elementary level, that is), here are few of our favorite resources:
Thomas Jefferson by Cheryl Harness
The Lewis and Clark Expedition by Carol A. Johmann
Louisiana Purchase by Peter & Connie Roop
How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis and Clark by Rosalyn Schanzer
The Lewis and Clark Expedition by Sally Senzell Isaacs
Seaman's Journal: On the Trail with Lewis and Clark by Patti Reeder Eubank
The Story of the World, volume 3 by Susan Wise Bauer, chapter 32
Lewis and Clark: Great Journey West DVD (this is excellent!!)