Friday, January 13, 2012

Crew Review: Learn Our History DVDs

Learn our History is a new company that is making animated videos to teach kids about American history in a 21st Century, fun way.  It's mission (from their website) is: 

We're dedicated to celebrating America's contributions to the world and making it fun for kids to learn our history.

The premise of the series is fairly common these days:  a group of kids travels through time {on a bicycle} to experience historical events as they happen.  In the video on September 11 and the War on Terror, for example, the TimeCycle {see the theme?} Academy kids watch as the Twin Towers fall, travel further back in time to Afghanistan to see the Al Qaeda operatives prepare for the attack , and then watch as Americans begin the healing process just days after the tragedy.

You can see a number of two-minute previews at the website here {Columbus}, here {Revolutionary War} and here {War on Terror}.

The company has five videos available right now, with plans for the release of nine more this year.

I really like the topics that have been selected for the videos.  It is often hard to find materials for 20th Century events that do not slant towards a left-leaning political interpretation.  {I'm not left-leaning in my politics or worldview, by the way.}
  • Columbus and The Great Discovery
  • The Birth of a Revolution
  • 9/11 and the War on Terror
  • Origins of World War II
  • The Reagan Revolution
Coming soon {beginning in March}:
  • The Declaration of Independence
  • The Battle for Our Future
  • The Mayflower and the First Thanksgiving
  • The Adventures of Lewis and Clark
  • The Race to Space
  • A History of Women in America
  • The Cold War
  • World War I
You have the ability to stream the content on any of your favorite devices by logging into your account. Along with each video are online word puzzles  and discussion questions to help students think deeper, recall information learned on the video, and {perhaps} even do a little more research to extend learning.   Ben and I really liked the timelines, which provide a nice combination of graphics, labels and pictures/photos to track events.

Purchasing the videos reminds me of a Book-A-Month club system.  When you sign up, you will get the first DVD with a free second DVD and four free gifts, (including a Learn Our History DVD storage case, a shoulder sack, a pair of binoculars and a Learn Our History sticker set) for $9.95 plus $3.95 shipping.  After that, you'll get another DVD about once a month.  Subsequent DVDs are $11.95 with $3.95 shipping. There is no obligation to purchase any other DVDs, and you can cancel at anytime. You can skip a shipment or cancel at anytime with 24/7 customer service. {Please check the website for current specials and promotions.  This information is accurate as of the original posting of this review.}

You can order online at the website (you'll need to log in with your personal information first) or by phone at (877) US HISTORY (that's 877-874-4786). Oh!  The company also offers a 30-day satisfaction money-back guarantee with each and every video. 

Our experience with the product:  I really love the idea behind this series.  The boys LOVE anything that is DVD for school, and were eager to watch.  I even had our history group watch the The Birth of a Revolution DVD during one of our recent meetings {we studied this topic last school year}.

The general consensus was that the content of the DVD was good, but the animation wasn't what the kids were expecting.  It really bugged my Ben (12 yo) that the lips were not synced to the words being spoken.  Most of the background extra characters do not move and are stationary.  This made for a bit of distraction {because modern animation has spoiled us all to expect Pixar-type visual experiences} from what the main characters were learning.

Despite the graphics, Ben cannot wait to watch the World War I and World War II movies. 

The targeted age ranges for these videos is 6 years and up.  Levi loved watching them and will watch them whenever I put them in, but the content isn't quite "clicking" with him right now.  That's OK though;  I subscribe to a "trickle down" theory of multi-level education:  I know he's getting something and when the subject materials comes up again, he'll absorb a bit more as he's able.

To see what other Crew members thought, please check out the TOS Crew Blog.

FCC:  In exchange for my honest opinion about this product, I was given one free DVD from the company and online access to one additional product.  No other compensation was received.

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