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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My twins (2.6 years) love the series Bill Nye the Science Guy and Reading Rainbow. They would have me play each episode three or four times in a row if I would let them.
They don't watch T.V. so we just rent DVDs. Anyways, we've already had such great discussions from watching the DVDs together. They know about such things as mummies, hot air ballons, amphibians, the solar system, the atmosphere, reptiles, sailing vessels, and how to make a fiddle.

I LOVE history and would like to share this love with them too. My current obsession is checking out the DVD courses from the library put out by the Teaching Company (now focusing mainly on Ancient Civilizations). I have a lot of DVD series I watch myself like the History Channel's American Revolution and the History of Britian and I don't doubt they would sit and watch the whole thing with me, but they are only two so I'd like something a little more accessible to them.

Any suggestions?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the suggestions so far! I absolutely agree about DVDs turning into a passive activity. They usually watch a half hour or no more than an hour a day. I just love how I can incorporate the DVDs into what we're already doing or reading.

For example, my kids love the Lets Read and Find out Science series. So when they watched the Billy Nye episode about Atmosphere, we also read the Science series book about Air, jumped in the leaves on a windy day, blew bubbles.

They've always loved art (again, probably because it's one of my great interests), and they are now watching the Vincent Van Gogh DVD from the Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists series. We look through my big book of art history and pour over his paintings, have read Camille and the Sunflowers: The Vincent Van Gogh Story by Laurence Anholt, done tons and tons of paintings themselves since they were twelve months old and we'll be taking a trip to the Art Institute downtown. So, like dhammamama said, we do use the DVDs as a way to bring another dimension to what they are already doing throughout the week.

I have already planned on having them learn at home (in the world really), and we will definitley be more on the unschool side. Right now I've found that anything I really like to learn about (and I'm a VERY eclectic learner) and introduce them too, they tend to get excited about too. What we like to do is take a well know children's book, like Blueberries for Sal, and then do a bunch of activities like counting real blueberries, baking blueberries, seeing bears at the zoo, and things related to the story. They're pretty active kids, so I usually have a list of things they can do. I just introduce things and if they want to do it, we do. If they are not interested, we don't. And of course if they ever ask me to do anything, we do what they would like to do. It's just nice to have ideas thought out ahead of time so when they get to wandering around looking for something to do, I have something ready.

I guess I wrote more in this response than was really necessary. It's just I get so excited they my kids are at an age where I can share so many cool things with them. I had always thought they would have to be a lot older for the type of things we do or the books I had wanted to introduce them too, but so far they are eating it up.
 

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What kind of history were you thinking about? Past historical events like the pilgrams making their way to Plymouth Rock, Buzz Aldrin landing on the moon or WWII? Or ancient cultures such as the Mayans, Egyptians, Romans etc?

I don't know of any dvds, but haven't looked, so I might be completely off base and I might be over thinking this. But it seems both topics could be problematic for young children and early grade school children because they don't have the life experiences to situate that sort of knowledge. Many times early curriculum in school (I realize that you are an unschooler) tend to teach small "sound bites" of info which tends to essentialize people and places. Many times they do this because it's hard to contextualize historical events for little ones because they don't have a whole lot of experience with people and time. But, I also think that this is a problem with many intro level college courses in the social sciences.

That said, I can think of a few cool teachable experiences using your own personal history or that of your area based on a simple theme (ie. food, transportation, work, school, etc.). For example, you could get pictures of your immediate family, grandparents, grandparents, greatgrandparents, etc. and talk about how they used to travel long and short distances. Depending on their age and where they grew up it could have been by boats, horse, cars, railroads, steamships, planes etc. You could talk about one or two generations of family members and how travel has changed trhoughout a persons lifetime. By looking at old pictures, visiting museums or perhaps someones garage, your dcs can get a sense of the style of transportation has progressed and get an understanding of the difficulties and enjoyment of traveling during different eras. Food production would also lend itself well to look into either for your area or for your own family.

Just a thought.
 

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My own history-loving children are obsessed with the series "Time Blazers," which we watch on Discovery Kids, but may be available on DVD through someplace like Netflix. We also love the Globe Trekker series, shown on PBS stations and available on DVD at our library.

Don't miss the Magic School Bus DVDs either; our library had a few, and I'd imagine that they're widely available.
 

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I like the Magic Schoolbus, but you might want to wait if your children are sensitive. My 4 yr old loves Magic Schoolbus now, but he found some episodes too scary a year ago -- they are really loud and have things like giant bugs attacking cities . . .
 

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I'm totally with isaoma on this one:

I'm a history major and my field is public history, and I would not worry about it too much for now. The reason is that children under the age of about 4-6 lack the developmental ability (regardless of 'giftedness') to differentiate well between the past and the present, in addition to that whole "pretend" vs. "reality" thing (like with fairies or Santa or other fictional characters)

In my work with public history I found it best to work with preschoolers (3-5) under the premise of what people's lives were like, just like learning about another culture. In the sense of--a long time ago, (and in some places they still do it this way) this is how people lived. . .then having hands on experience with things like making butter or similar fun activities.

The best skills you can give your child now to prepare them to appreciate history are; appreciation for other cultures, natural curiosity about cause and effect, and beginning source criticism.

My initial love from history came as a 4-year old reading my first chapter books: the Little House in the Prairie series, which I remained obsessed with well into grade school. I would wait until you see your little one develop more cognitive ability to think about what it means that something happened in the past before sweating introducing history as a "subject".
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Bird Girl - Trial Blazers sounds like a really awesome series. I checked the description out on some web sites, along with the series Mystery Hunters on Discovery Kids, but unfortunately I can't find anyplace to check them out. They're not at Blockbuster Online or through my library system.


Ebeth0000 - I agree that kids learn best at this age and for quite a while through hands-on activities, however, I have to disagree about how much they understand about the past. Both my kids use the word "remember" quite a bit and talk about things we did months and months ago. They definitley understand yesterday, last week, tomorrow, tonight, and so on. Obviously, I know they can't really comprehend when the French Revolution took place or how the Baroque era differs from early Mesopotamian civilization
, but I look at history as being one big, complicated story. I guess I'm just looking at it from the point of introducing them to different stories and countries that they would find interesting.

For example, I was watching an episode of Secrets of Archaeology and it focused on the Old Kingdom pyramids. Both the kids loved it! They loved to look at the pyramids, learn a little about mummies and look at ancient art. I know they can't comprehend everything, but they can appreciate some layer of what they are seeing and what we talk about. It's just like when I read an incredible book. I can't "get" everything the first time. The first time reading through it's really just getting the basics. Then each re-read I get something new and different- a deeper layer of meaning.

I do appreciate your suggestions for exploring other cultures. This is something I am really interested in doing, too.

Also, isaoma I LOVE you suggestion about talking with family about their past. My grandmother was interviewed about working in a factory during the depression and her interview along with artifacts from my grandfather are in a local museum. We haven't gone with the kids to see it yet, but you got me thinking about how much they would love that.
Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
jilly- My kids love when I read aloud the Magic School bus books aloud. We just discovered them lately. We haven't watched any of the DVD's yet. They don't see to be took sensitive to things like that, but they haven't watched many DVDs that have included chase scenes or the equivolent. I think we'll check them out, though. Thanks!
 

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You may want to try out (if your local library has a copy of them) the series Ancient Civilizations for Children, which is an 11 volume set for grades 3-7. They have tapes on Ancient Aegean, Ancient Africa, Ancient China, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Inca, Ancient Maya, Ancient Mesopotamia, Ancient Rome, Ancient Aztec Empire, and Ancient Aztec: the Fall of the Empire. I originally saw them at asiaforkids.com.
 
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