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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!

President in a Bag – John Quincy Adams

In September, 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.

B enjoyed learning about John Quincy Adams, the son of his favorite president, John Adams.  John Quincy Adams was the 1st son of a president to become president.  Like his father, he did what he thought was right, not what was popular.  Therefore, he was only a one term president, like his father.

Here are the five items B chose to represent our sixth President in a Bag, John Quincy Adams:

#1: A Passport.  John Quincy Adams was a diplomat, ministering to The Netherlands, Prussia, Russia and Great Britain.

#2 The Union Jack.  Adams’ wife, Louisa, is the only American first lady in history who was not born in the United States.  She was British and John met her in London while he was diplomat.  (B is upset with me because he had to use this picture of the Union Jack.  It’s a page of his medal tracking sheet  from this Winter Olympics Pack 2014 from Enchanted Homeschooling Mom.  Our printer ink is running low so I did not want to print off another, larger copy of the flag.  I’m such a terrible mom to make him reuse something, right? hehe)

#3 A Box of Tea.  When President Jefferson called for a shipping embargo in 1807, Senator Adams supported him.  Adams’ constituents in Massachusetts were very upset with him for that support since most of their livelihoods depended on shipping.  B associates tea with the Boston Tea Party, which took place in a Massachusetts harbor, so the tea reminds B of this unpopular 1807 embargo.  Adams quit the Senate in 1808.

#4 A Pen.  As President Monroe’s Secretary of State, Adams was the main writer of The Monroe Doctrine.

#5 A Camera.  The 1st photographic image taken with a camera occurred during John Quincy Adams’ presidency.  Adams was the 1st US president to have his picture taken.  Before then, there were presidential portraits and each artist’s view was subjective.

Read about our other Presidents in a Bag:

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

 

A&E Networks’ Idea Book for Educators is now digital!

If you’ve read any of my posts on B’s favorite History assignments, Presidents in a Bag, you’ll remember that I got the fabulous idea from The Idea Book for Educators, created by A&E networks – History Channel, A&E, H2, History en Espanol and Lifetime programming.  It was a free magazine for educators with lessons that complemented shows on the A&E networks.  It also contains Creative Ideas from Teachers, where teachers can win money for sharing ideas they’ve come up with to engage their students in learning.  It was one of those teachers who shared the President in a Bag.

I just received an email stating the magazine will no longer be in print; it’s now digital!  Here is the link for The Idea Book for Educators if y’all are interested in checking it out or adding it to your lessons.

President in a Bag – James Monroe

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Monday, my Dad came out and hung with B.  They went to Target, out to lunch, watched America’s Funniest Videos and worked on American History.  B had been stuck on his President in a Bag of James Monroe and my Dad is a huge American History fan, so I thought they could inspire each other. Since his retirement, my Dad always asks for historical non-fiction books each birthday and Christmas about US presidents, wars, battles, generals, etc.  He’s quite well-read.

B shared with his Poppop what he knew about Monroe and my Dad was pleasantly surprised that B knew some things he did not.  Then my Dad shared some things he knew about Monroe of which B was unaware.  B showed his Poppop the US Presidents binder he keeps that includes elements from this fabulous lap book I found on homeschoolshare.com, as well as his President in a Bag assignments. The two of them came up with seven things about President Monroe, however B only wanted to show five for his assignment. For the first time, he arranged all the items and took the picture.

Here are the five items B and his Poppop came up with to represent the life of our fifth president, James Monroe:

#1: A Suitcase.  After his presidency and the death of his wife, Elizabeth, Monroe moved to New York to live with his daughter, Maria.

#2: A Map of Florida:  The Florida territory was obtained from Spain during Monroe’s presidency.

#3: A Pen.  In 1820, Monroe signed the Missouri Compromise, admitting Maine into the union as a free state to balance Missouri’s new admittance as a slave one.

#4: A Tricorne.  Monroe was the last of the revolutionaries, the last of the Founding Fathers, and his nickname was “The Last of the Hats”.

#5: Sparklers (the closest thing we had to fireworks):  Monroe was the 3rd president to die on the Fourth of July.  He died on the 55th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the 50th anniversary.

Read about our other Presidents in a Bag:

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

President in a Bag – Thomas Jefferson

In September, 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.

As you can see, one of our cats wouldn’t get out of the picture.  Everyone loves American History in our house!  So, here are the five items B selected to represent our 3rd president, Thomas Jefferson:

#1  A Pen.  Thomas Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence.

#2  A Wallet.  Thomas Jefferson oversaw the purchase of the Louisiana Purchase during his presidency.

#3  A Map of Virginia.  Thomas Jefferson was born in Virginia, he served as Governor of Virginia and his father, Peter Jefferson, a surveyor, helped create the 1st map of Virginia.

#4  A book.  Thomas Jefferson wanted to create a public university that was not associated with a church.  In order to fund the building of The University of Virginia, he sold his personal book collection to the Library of Congress.

#5  A Rock.  Thomas Jefferson is one of four presidents depicted on Mount Rushmore, as a memorial to his contribution to expanding the United States.

President Jefferson in a bag was pulling teeth from B.  John Adams is his favorite president (so far), so he wasn’t really interested in moving onto the next one.  Although, when he was reading about Jefferson, he would call out to me facts that he found cool or amazing.  But he dragged his feet on the bag and I had to prompt him.

The hubs and I love when he presents his items to us because we are learning new facts.  B reads books about each president on his own, so we don’t know everything he does.  Hopefully his lack of enthusiasm over this president won’t continue through the rest…

Read about our other Presidents in a Bag:

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

 

President in a Bag – John Adams

Last month, 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.

Yesterday, B finally finished his second President in a Bag – John Adams.  He has had the 1st 2 items for 2 weeks but could not decide on the last 3 until yesterday.  So, here are the items that B has chosen to describe John Adams’ life:

  1. The $2 bill.  John Adams was the first vice president of the United States of America, making him the 2nd man in charge.  He was our 2nd president.  He is pictured on the back of the $2 bill in the depiction of John Trumbull’s painting “Declaration of Independence”.
  2. The peace symbol.  Although it cost him reelection, John Adams refused to go to war with France during his presidency, instead choosing peace.  He decided to do what was right instead of what was popular.  Something we discussed that was lacking in a lot of current politicians.
  3. A pen.  The colonists were quite angry about the taxes that the English king assessed upon them. Instead of participating in the violent protests, John Adams chose to write articles in the newspapers.
  4. A library card.  The Library of Congress was established under John Adams’ presidency.
  5. A garden trowel.  After his presidency, John Adams retired to farming, fulfilling his desire to follow in his father’s footsteps.

President in a Bag – George Washington

After reading about our first president, B chose 5 things to represent his life.

I receive The Idea Book for Educators, a free publication from A&E, History Channel, H2 and Biography.  Inside you’ll find study guides to assist us teachers with educating children through shows featured on the four sponsoring channels.  The guides include vocabulary, discussion questions, extended activities and additional resources.  My favorite section is “Creative Ideas From Our Teachers”.  Teachers write in and share ideas they’ve developed and used in their classrooms to get their students engaged in learning and have fun.  It is amazing to read their ideas!  The teachers whose ideas are published in the magazine each receive a $1,000 grant.

One of the winners in the Fall 2013 edition was Bethany Dabel of Grandview High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and her idea was President in a Bag: Exploring the Executive Office.  Each student was to explore the life of a former president and collect 5 objects in a bag to represented their president.  The students then made a presentation to the class, explaining the objects they chose.  Brilliant!  I love hands-on learning as well as tapping B’s creativity.

We are studying American History for the first time this year, including presidents of The United States.  When I read Ms. Dabel’s idea, I knew if would be a great addition to our lessons.  We’re starting at the beginning, and the picture, above, shows 5 of the 6 items B chose to represent George Washington.  He really insisted on adding a 6th one.  Last night, he presented his objects to the hubs and me and this is what and why he chose:

  1. B’s tricorne, the three-point hat he received during our trip the Williamsburg, Virginia earlier this year.  This hat reminds B of Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze’s oil painting Washington Crossing The Delaware.
  2. B’s toy flint-lock pistol he also received during our Williamsburg trip.  The pistol reminds B that General George Washington was the leader, the top dog, the big cheese of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.
  3. A tape measure reminds B how unusually tall George Washington was for his time – 6′ 2″.
  4. The one dollar bill – not only does it have George Washington’s picture on it but he was also the first president.
  5. Our front door (not shown in picture) represents the fact that George Washington was always welcoming people into his house as long as they dressed nicely.  He even went outside to find people to come in and converse.
  6. A tea bag because all hosts offer their guests refreshments, even if they are a stranger you met on the street, and George Washington had to be a proper host.
I’m so thankful to Ms. Dabel and The Idea Book for Educators for sharing her idea!
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