History/Social Studies

Movie Wednesday

Last year, I told you about our Language Arts curriculum, Brave Writer’s The Arrow.  Today is Movie Wednesday, but we didn’t watch a movie.  We watched a show that aired on ABC last night – Countdown to the Oscars: 15 Movies That Changed American Cinema.  I saw the show on the guide several minutes after 10pm, turned on the TV and hit record.  When we watched it this morning, it only captured #14 through #1.  I’ve searched the internet and cannot find what #15 was, so if you saw the show, please let me know!  Anywho, watching this 54 minute show provided lessons in not only Language Arts, but also History (of our country and the movie industry), Civil Rights and Cinematography.  B wants to make movies when he grows up.  He really enjoys doing it now and this show gave great, historical insight.  In the future, we will watch almost all of these movies for the content and ingenuity they will lend to B’s education.

Language Arts

The Brave Writer Lifestyle teaches us the importance of word selection in stories, whether they are told in books or movies.  When you read a great line in a book, the delivery is yours, in your head.  The tone of a book B reads may come across completely differently when I read it.  With movies, you hear an actor in character saying an iconic line; see the expression and emotion on their face as it’s delivered.  How many lines from movies stick with us, do we use in our daily lives?  Lines from movies decades old, movies we’ve seen years ago, still stick with us and we want to make that impression on others when we write (or act). Every movie on last night’s show had lines like that.  This show also reminded us when it’s fitting to not use “proper” English; when the local and/or historical way of speaking should be used. See if you can tell from which movie these lines came:

  1. “Whuzzah happenin’, hot stuff?”
  2. “I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
  3. “STELLA!”
  4. “Well, when I’m good, I’m very good, but when I’m bad, I’m better.”
  5. “I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies!”

History

Ever movie is on this list because it made cinematic history.  The Production Codes were created in the 1930s to censor future movies after I’m No Angel was released.  The multi-plane camera was invented in order to bring the first, full-length animated movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, to the screen. Easy Rider was the 1st indy film that became a blockbuster.  2001: A Space Odyssey birthed the Sci-Fi genre.  Jaws showed us that the score of a movie can make a villain.

So many times during this show, we paused to discuss not only the what and why of a storyline, but also the filming.  The shower scene in Psycho was a great topic!

B: [Janet Leigh’s character] was ridiculous in the shower!  She just stood there and kept letting out short screams while the bad guy took forever to raise his knife.  She should have attacked him or knocked him over and run.
Me: She didn’t scream that long.  She gave one scream, and the director chose to play it over and over again, at different angles, to prepare the audience for what was about to happen.  Otherwise, the scene may have gone by before the audience could absorb it and they might have missed it.  (I hit play again and B listened to commentators on the show describe how Alfred Hitchcock reinvented fear in this movie.  Audiences had not seen anything like this before and it was so horrifying without even being gory.)
B: I get it!  No one was expecting a murderer.  No one was expecting that character.  The director had to give the audience a second to get what was about to happen so that they could get and be afraid of it as it happened.  Cool!

But these movies also taught us about our History.  In clips from The Birth of a Nation, B learned that KKK members not only dressed in white but also covered their horses.  Although Hattie McDaniel was nominated for, and won, an Oscar for Gone with the Wind, she was not allowed to sit at the same table with her cast mates.  She was segregated to her own table in the back.  We discussed the significance of a black man cast as the main character of a motion picture (Lillies of the Field) in 1962 and Sidney Poitier winning an oscar.  B watched Halle Berry’s emotional acceptance speech in 2001 with shock that a woman of color had not won best actress until the 21st century.  Easy Rider was created by, for and about the 60s generation.

Oh my goodness, I can go on and on about this show and the wonderful lessons we got from it today, but I have to stop and make dinner now.  I can’t wait to watch one of these films next Wednesday!

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside!”

B: I’ve been listening to that song “Baby It’s Cold Outside” all month and I don’t understand. What grown women who is old enough to date still lives with her parents, brother and aunt?!

Me: Hey! I was still living with your Nana & Poppop when I met your dad!

This lead to a discussion of what American life was like in the 1940s, when this song was written.  Women got married earlier back then and, more than not, did not have a job.  Most men and and women went straight from their parents’ house to their own when they got married.  The maiden aunt in the song had never been married and was now living with her brother or sister (maybe their parents had passed away) because that’s the way it was.

Until we entered World War II, when most of the men were shipped off to war and the women were needed en mass in the workplace to replace the men and, most importantly, work in factories that made military essentials.  They had freedom, responsibilities and pride like they may not have ever had before.  They were glad to be contributing, to help their country, and keep their minds off, even for just their shift, how much they worried about their fathers/brothers/boyfriends/husbands.  While the men were fighting for the world’s freedom, the women kept this country running.

Unfortunately, when the war was over, and the surviving men came back home, the women were pushed out, told to go back to keeping house and hosting luncheons and let the men take over again.  It was very hard for many them!  They were told they weren’t needed, weren’t wanted, anymore.  We had a really good discussion about this!

B: Thanks for telling me all of this, Ma.  I really enjoyed talking about it.  :o)

Bring a Veteran to School Day

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On Tuesday, November 11, 2014, we participated in Bring a Veteran to School Day.  B called each of his two grandfathers, invited them over and they were both pleasantly surprised and happy to come.  My dad is 45 minutes away; the hubs’ dad is an hour and a half away.  I had originally chosen an arrival time of 11am, so both could avoid rush hour traffic.  However, 2 days before I remembered the moment of silence at the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month and told the hubs I should move it up to 10:30am or 10:45am.  He said to leave it as is, and we’ll have our moment whenever they get here.

Around 10am, B and I visited a neighbor who is retired from the Marine Corps.  B shook his hand, thanked him for his service and gave him some cookies and a homemade poppy. That afternoon, the neighbor gave B a Dinar as a thank you gift for the cookies, poppy and appreciation.  B ran into the house to show me and he was so excited!

My dad arrived a little before 11am and my FIL arrived a little after.  My FIL brought B a picture of the trainer airplane that he flew in flight school in Pensacola, a T-28!  To start our little “program”, I announced that we were going to step out onto the front stoop, face the flag over the front door and say The Pledge of Allegiance.  My FIL said, “I’m Quaker.  Quakers don’t pledge to anyone or anything.”  What an amazing life lesson he presented to us!  The I’m offended/political correctness issue is so hotly debated in this country, and with the Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa season just around the corner, it’s going to get hotter.  The hubs replied, “That’s alright.  You can still come outside with us and stand in silence while we pledge.”  After they left, I had a discussion with B that how daddy replied is what is great about this country.  We wanted to pledge, so we did.  Grandad didn’t want to pledge so he didn’t.  We all did what we wanted to do.  We did not tell him he had to pledge; we did not skip the pledge all together because he didn’t want to do it.  :o)  After the pledge, the hubs called for a moment of silence to honor those who had given the ultimate sacrifice in service to their countries.

We came back inside and settled the grandads in chairs next to each other.  The hubs, as our school principal, officially welcomed our vets to our school and read this poem about Veterans Day.  Then I got up and read John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields while B handed out a homemade poppy to each of his grandads.  The poppy means a lot to my dad and he was so happy to receive one.  He said he will treasure it.  We all sat down and I told our vets the reason we wanted to bring them here was so that we can honor them, thank them and, most importantly, hear their stories.  B wanted to know what it was like and hear their individual experiences.  He had a list of questions:

When & why did you join the Navy/Army?

What is the primary role of that branch of the military?

What was boot camp like?

Where did you go after boot camp and what were your responsibilities?

How did actually being in the Navy/Army compare to your expectations before you joined?

How did you stay in touch with your family?

What was the food like?

Did you have a best friend?  Did you stay in touch after you got out?

What is your most memorable experience?

Do you remember any funny or unusual experiences?

How did your service in the Navy/Army affect your life – positively and negatively?

Would you do it again?  Anything you wish you had done or handled differently?

Some questions B asked, some questions his grandads answered as they were talking.  B starting by asking my FIL the first question – When and why did you join the Navy? – and after he answered that question, B was going to ask my dad the same question and go back and forth down the list.  However, the conversation that followed was much more organic.  After answering that 1st question with a huge shock to us, he just kept talking.  My FIL is very sweet and has a sense of humor.  But he is a quiet man; doesn’t speak too much when I’m around him.  I think he said more in the 2+ hours he was here than I heard him speak in the last 19 years.  ;o)  He shocked us by answering B’s 1st question with, “I didn’t join the Navy; I was drafted.”  None of us, not even the hubs, knew that!

We talked in the living room for over an hour and continued to talk over lunch in the kitchen (B asked me to make Chicken Tortilla Soup and My Southwestern Cornbread and the 3 of us made Spicy Molasses Cookies for dessert).  We all learned a lot about our dads/grandads that we never knew and my FIL’s experience as an officer and pilot in the Navy was completely different from my dad’s as a soldier in the Army.  Somethings were the same, though, and when one of them was talking, occasionally the other nodded along and chimed in with a, “you’re right”, a laugh or a shake of the head.

When my FIL graduated from high school, the draft was still in place due to the Korean War.  His draft was deferred because he was accepted to college, but they called him up as soon as he graduated.  The Army had been scooping up all the college graduates so the Navy stepped in and took my FIL and some other college graduates who were there that day.  Boot camp was no big deal to my FIL.  He was 23 when he entered the Navy, older than most, and he never took the yelling and attitudes of drill sergeants and superiors personally.  He mentioned one particular drill sergeant who was a second year.  My FIL told him, “Just remember – when boot camp is over, I’m going to be an officer and outrank you.  I’ll expect you to treat me as such.”  After boot camp he was stationed in a few places in Maryland and his stories of his lucky jobs were so fun to hear!  Then he was asked if he wanted to go to flight school in Pensacola.  Um…YEAH!  He said he was lucky; they were treated like royalty, compared to what those who were shipped out.  They had servants who cleaned, did the laundry and cooked.  Once he’d completed flight school, he still owned the Navy 2 years of service.  However, the Korean War was over.  He and the other guys in his training were pulled into a room and told that their contracts were being changed from 2 years to 6 years.  If they were not going to accept the new 6 year contract, they had to pack their bags and leave the Navy that day.  He said they all pulled out quarters and started flipping coins – should I stay or go?  LOL  Most of them left.

As a 17 yr old high school senior from a humble family, my dad knew the only way he was getting a college education was to join the Army and take advantage of the G.I. Bill when he got out.  He told his 2 best friends his plan and they said they should all enlist together, but go into the Navy, not the Army.  My dad was a pale redhead, barely 100 lbs soaking wet, the class clown and he didn’t know how to swim.  Plus, you only had to give the Army 3 years but the Navy got 4 years.  He just couldn’t join the Navy!  But his friends talked him into it.  The Navy had a buddy program and they guaranteed you’d stay together after boot camp.  They all made an appointment with the Navy recruitment office and were going to meet there to enlist.  He was the first to arrive and the recruiter got him started on paperwork.  Before signing, my dad said he wanted to wait for his friends but the recruiter said, “They’re coming. Let’s get you all signed up and then we’ll do them when they get here.”  His friends never showed and my dad had signed on the bottom line.  One buddy’s parents said he was not enlisting, he was going to college and the other buddy decided to be a police officer.  But neither had the guts to tell my dad before he enlisted in a branch of the service that terrified him.  >:o(  (That last sentence is all my words and feelings, not my dad’s.)

The closer he got to high school graduation, the more worried he was, so he went to the local Army recruiting station, told the recruiter what happened and that he really wanted to join the Army, was there anything he can do?  The recruiter took his name and number and said he’d be in touch.  Two and a half weeks before graduation, the recruiter told him he’d taken care of it, my dad was out of his Navy contract and he needed to come down and sign his Army one.  My dad was so relieved!  He has no idea how the recruiter did it because he didn’t ask.  When he signed up, he told the recruiter he was really interested in accounting and would like a job in that field with the Army if possible.  My dad turned 18 on graduation day and was on a bus to boot camp the next day.

As my dad described his experience at boot camp, it reminded me so much of my own experience in culinary arts school!  He said he never knew how sheltered he was until he went into the Army.  There were some really good people there and there were some really terrible people there.  He, like me, was sensitive, and it was hard to be on the receiving end of the drill sergeants.  When boot camp was over, 90% of the men were shipped off to Vietnam and my dad expected to be one of them.  He was surprised when he was sent to Indianapolis, instead, to attend finance school.  He assumed it was the doing of the Army recruiter who had gotten him out of the Navy contract.  Many, many years later, he found out it was the 1st of 2 times that his older brother saved his life.

My dad was eventually shipped out on a troop boat from California to Korea.  My dad served his tour in the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone).  He shared very vivid memories of good times and bad times over there, and the hubs had to bring tissues to the kitchen table for us.  In fact, just thinking about it now, I need to go get some tissues.  Excuse me.

After his tour in Korea, my dad came home and his service was over.  His oldest brother, C (who is also my godfather), was an Army man and stayed in until retirement.  Sometime after Uncle C retired, he and my dad were talking about their service and my dad found out why he’d never been sent to Vietnam.  My Uncle C did 3 tours in Vietnam.  He was, in fact, there when my dad exited with boot camp.  Therefore, because of the Sole Survivor Policy (a lot of civilians call it the Saving Private Ryan rule) my dad was sent to finance school, instead.  When he finished with school, Uncle C was still in Vietnam so my dad was sent to Korea.  My Uncle C never told his parents that he was in Vietnam until after all of his tours were over.  He didn’t want them to worry, so he told them he was in The Philippines and Korea.  Any mail sent or received involved an APO or FPO address, so my Nana & Papa never knew and neither did my dad.

Both my dad and my FIL are glad they served.  They both met their wives through a service buddy.  My FIL never would have learned to fly if not for the Navy, and he became a member of the Civil Air Patrol after getting out.  Flying was his happy place.  My dad knows he never would have gotten a college degree if not for the Army.  And, with the exception of a couple of odd jobs in college, the Department of Defense has been my dad’s sole employer as an adult – first as a soldier and then as a civilian employee after graduating from college (thanks to the G.I. Bill).  They were both so happy they had come, more so (if that’s possible) than the hubs, B and I were to have them and listen to them!  They enjoyed reminiscing individually and together and I think they are closer now.

I am so glad we did this!  My dad thanked us several times before he left and my mom called me later that day to thank me, as well.  She said my dad had such a great time and was so proud to show off his poppy.  The hubs thanked B and me for putting this together and he feels so blessed to have been present.  I encourage everyone to do this, at least once.  It was amazing to get to know who these men were before they were husbands and fathers, and hear about a way of life that neither one of us chose.  If you don’t have living family members who served, you can go to Veterans.com for resources to assist you with finding local veterans and how to host your own Bring a Veteran to School Day.

President in a Bag – Martin Van Buren

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B finished 5th grade in May and we are now into 6th grade – middle school!  How is that possible?  I don’t want to dwell on it…

He enjoyed creating Presidents in a Bag so much in 5th grade, we’re continuing it in 6th grade, as well.  We should; we only got through 7 presidents in 5th grade!  But we learned so much, went on lots of field trips and connected with homeschool families, including joining a co-op.  Onward and upward!

Here are the 5 items B chose to represent the life of our 8th president, Martin Van Buren:

  1. Symbols for the Democratic & Republican Parties, the Donkey & the Elephant –  One of Van Buren’s greatest contribution to politics was in developing our modern party system.
  2. Fences – Van Buren was possibly our first example of a typical politician.  He would listen to all sides of an issue, acknowledge the pros and cons of both but wasn’t fond of choosing sides.  The issue of slavery in the US was a perfect example of him “sitting on the fence”.  He didn’t want to take a stand for either the North nor the South, because the other would be upset with him and, therefore, not vote for him.  Later in life, however, he did choose a side, and supported Abraham Lincoln after The Civil War began.
  3. A Treasure Chest – After three years, Van Buren was finally successful in passing the Independent Treasury Act in 1840.  President Jackson had destroyed the Bank of the United States and the Independent Treasure Act kept federal money out of local banks.  This act was the beginning of our current Treasury Department.
  4. A Passport – Van Buren was the first president to travel outside of the US after his presidency.  He’s also the 1st president to be born in the United States, the first one not of British decent (he was Dutch) and the only president whose first language was not English (he spoke Dutch before he learned English).
  5. A Hotel Symbol – Van Buren grew up in Kinderhook, NY (the town on which The Legend of Sleepy Hallow was based) and his parents converted part of their house into a tavern.  The tavern was on the road to Albany, the capital of New York, so many guests were politicians.  Van Buren listened to all the political talk going on.  He came to like politics and the fancy attire of the wealthy visitors.

Read about our other Presidents in a Bag:

#1 George Washington
#2 John Adams
#3 Thomas Jefferson
#4  James Madison
#5 James Monroe
#6 John Quincy Adams
#7 Andrew Jackson

President in a Bag – Andrew Jackson

We studied Andrew Jackson back in March and B took the picture of the items to represent his life.  However, during the recovery from my surgery, I never got it up on the blog.  So, here are the five things B selected to represent the life of our 7th president, Andrew Jackson:

  1. A Crab Mallet – This is acting as a judge’s gavel.  One of his many positions before becoming president was a judge on the Tennessee Supreme Court.
  2. A United States Postal Service Mailing Box – At the age of 13, Jackson entered The American Revolutionary War as a courier.  Only 2 other presidents, Washington and Lincoln, have been on more postage stamps than Jackson.
  3. A Pistol – The first attempted assassination on a sitting president was aimed at Jackson.  However, Richard Lawrence’s pistol misfired.  He pulled a second pistol on Jackson, but that misfired, too.  The pistol also represents the fact that Jackson is the only US president to kill a man in a duel.
  4. The $20 Bill – Jackson was the only president in US history to pay off the national debt (and he happens to be on the $20 bill).
  5. A Can of Beans – Growing up, my dad used to sing The Battle of New Orleans by Johnny Horton to me all the time.  While studying Jackson, I sang it to B and he asked to hear the original.  He loves this YouTube version, acting out the song with LEGOs.  The can of beans (“…we took a little bacon and we took a little beans…”) represents Jackson’s victory against the British in The Battle of New Orleans.  Even thought the War of 1812 had ended the month before with the Treaty of Ghent, word had not reached New Orleans, yet.

Jackson Pinterest

Read about our other Presidents in a Bag:

#1 George Washington
#2 John Adams
#3 Thomas Jefferson
#4  James Madison
#5 James Monroe
#6 John Quincy Adams

President in a Bag – James Madison

In September 2013, I wrote a blog post about a wonderful teacher who came up with the President in a Bag idea and inspired us to implement that idea into our study of the American Presidents.  You can read about her here, in our first President in a Bag – George Washington.

These are the 5 items B came up with to describe the life of our 4th president, James Madison:

#1 A Pen: This repeat item didn’t surprise me since Madison was a Founding Father.  The pen reminds B that Madison is the author of The Bill of Rights.

#2: A Checkbook: Madison came up with the idea of checks and balances in our federal government, so that one branch does not gain more power than the others.

#3 A Gardening Hand Cultivator: Madison grew up on a tabacco plantation and retired there after his presidency.  Even though the plantation had slaves, Madison believed slavery was evil and wanted it abolished.

#4 A Bar of Soap: Madison was the shortest US president, at 5’4″, and never weighed more than 100 pounds.  A friend of his said he was, “…no bigger than a bar of soap.”

#5 A Pair of Pants: Madison was the 1st president to wear trousers, instead of knee britches, in the White House.  B wanted me to tell y’all that the pair of pants in the picture belong to Ken, Barbie’s boyfriend.  He felt this needed to be clarified, else y’all would wonder where in the world we got the giant pen, checkbook, cultivator and bar of soap.  So, PSA complete.  ;o)

Read about our other Presidents in a Bag:

#1 George Washington
#2 John Adams
#3 Thomas Jefferson
#5 James Monroe
#6 John Quincy Adams
#7 Andrew Jackson

B’s History Fair Project for Homeschool Co-Op – Flash Backs to My School Days!

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Our homeschool co-op had a History Fair this morning and B’s presentation included a poster board. I’ve always been critical of parents who do their child’s work for them. You can totally tell by looking at the Art wall in a preschool classroom or the 1st grade poster board presentations, which ones were done solely by children and which ones were done by parents who love neatness and straight lines. ;o) B’s presentation was not started until early yesterday afternoon and was still not done when he and the hubs left at 4pm for a planned guys’ outing. It was just me and that unfinished History project on the floor and I was sooo tempted to finish it myself!  I felt like Jacques the shrimp in Finding Nemo when Gill tells him he cannot clean the tank. At first he was all, “I shall resist!” but the dirtier the tank got, he couldn’t resist.  When Gill caught Jacques cleaning, he hung his head. “I am ashamed.” But isn’t this always the case in life? Be careful who you judge because it always comes back to bite you! At least it does for me. If I’ve judged a stranger by the snippet of their life I see from the outside, sometime later I’ll find myself in that exact situation, and “I am ashamed.” I did resist, though, and he finished his project before dinner.  Phew! Yesterday was a total flashback to when I was in school.  I always left projects to the last minute and never learned my lesson because I always received good marks on them.  At least it’s easier for kids these days to get information for projects at the last minute.  I had no internet.  Most projects were due on Mondays and I never remembered that the local library was closed on Sundays until after it closed on Saturdays.  A 1974 Funk & Wagnall’s Encyclopedia was my only reference. Anywho, the History Fair was great this morning.  Some children chose a literal time or event in History and some chose to explain the history of a person or something.  There were displays on US Presidents, WWII, Hasbro Toys, Sharks, Egypt, Native Americans, Robots, The Wright Brothers, Ballet, Knights, Winnie the Pooh, Harriet Tubman, US Missions to the Moon! I learned so much from these awesome kids!  I walked around and not only read from their displays but also listened to them tell me about their subject matter.  Somethings I didn’t know before this fair:

  • Harriet Tubman was not her given name; she was born Araminta Ross.
  • A.A. Milne only wrote 4 books with Winnie the Pooh in them and not all off the Winnie the Pooh characters we have today appeared in those four books.  Everything else “Pooh” we have today were expanded upon from his original four works.
  • Hasbro was founded by three Rhode Island brothers and their 1st toys were doctor and nurse kits and modeling clay.
  • Leonardo DaVinci designed the first robot in 1495.
  • I had no idea how many countries were involved in WWII.  The Allies consisted of 26 countries alone!  I only knew about the “major” ones.
  • There is a Goblin Shark out there with a long, flat snout.
B chose to do a “montage” (his word, not mine) of the 1st six Presidents in a Bag he’s created.  I pulled the pix off my blog, ordered enlarged prints from Costco and B copied and pasted the descriptions from my blog posts.  He glued them onto a poster board from Dollar Tree and wrote a description at the top.
After everyone had presented and learned, we went outside.  The kids played and we mommas chatted.  A very successful co-op, indeed!
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