Monday, September 10, 2012

Helping to Unpack History: Marshall Publishing DVDs


One thing I’ve learned about teaching history to my kids for the past 7 years:  there is no way possible for them to know everything.

Duh, I know. But when you are young in your homeschool journey…. and only contemplating the educational needs of your first child, because the young siblings are still trying to master walking without bumping into walls…..and you realize that the only scope and sequence you have to follow is your own……well, you tend to think that the education you can provide your child (by God’s grace) is going to be seamless, comprehensive, and all-encompassing.  In.  every. subject.

At least that is what I imagined in the beginning.  But – boy! – how God has humbled me and put me in my place.  I realize now that the focus of my home school should be imparting a love for God in my kids as well as imparting a love of learning about His world.

In our house, as the weather turns more spring like, it can be easier to let some topics slide.  That is exactly what happened in May; I realized that the end of the 1800s was really getting short changed.  Great people and events that shape our American consciousness were getting dropped left-and-right from school as we finished up, compiled portfolios, played sports and prepared for vacation.

I gratefully, then, jumped at the opportunity this summer to review Marshall Publishing’s 60-minute DVD entitle America in the 1880s ($19.95)
What was life like in America in the 1880s? Certainly nothing like today, yet many of the things we so cherish now had their roots during this significant and often time neglected decade in history.
Just like a time machine, we transport you back to discover the people and events that shaped this exciting decade: the Brooklyn Bridge ...Washington Monument ...Statue of Liberty ...Gunfight at the O.K. Corral ...Oklahoma Land Rush ...Johnstown Flood ...Thomas Edison ...Mark Twain ...Baby Doe ...Sitting Bull ...Sarah Bernhardt ...John Philip Sousa ...Buffalo Bill ...Gilbert and Sullivan ...Wyatt Earp...Jesse James and Billy the Kid ....Alexander Graham Bell ....John D. Rockefeller ....Andrew Carnegie ....Samuel Gompers ....Susan B. Anthony ....Lillian Russell ....and many more!
You will learn about fashion, politics, sports heroes, famous inventors, Wall Street financiers, railroad expansion, buffalo extinction, Indian resettlement, Civil Rights, union organization, urbanization, the music of the times, and much, much more!
Through the use of live re-enactments, rare historical photographs and drawings, and award-winning photography you will be amazed, amused, entertained and educated about many little known facts and some life changing events that have become part of the foundation of our society today.
As a special bonus feature, we also present an archival documentary film about the life of Alexander Graham Bell, his work with the deaf and the invention of the telephone!


The website has a page dedicated to the History of American in the 1880s DVD with some educational helps and supports for the DVD:  a timeline of major events, vocabulary and terms.  There are 6 study questions.  I can see this being helpful for older students for review and discussion. 

As a reader of my blog, Marshall Publishing is offering my readers free first-class shipping by using code TOS27.  That is a savings of $7.95! You can order at Marshall Publishing website or call their toll free number 1-888-300-3455 (8a – 8pC CST Mon-Sat).
Marshall Publishing has many other DVDs (and DVD packages) for all ages. 

My recommendations & thoughts:  The video is a combination of reenactments as well as historical footage/ photographs.  It is narrated throughout to provide a thread of continuity.  The narrator’s voice reminded me of some of the old movies/ film strips I watched during my elementary/ middle school years.  I don’t mean this is a bad thing – it is what it is. 

Although the boys were not excited to sit and watch it (“It is still summer, Mom!”), they live to tell and thought it was interesting.   I thought it was a great way to explore an influential time period in a short amount of time, and feel a little less guilty about the holes in my kids education.  The suggested age range for this DVD is 4th grade and up, and I would have to agree;  my 1st grader, Levi, watched some segments.  There is a separate biographical presentation about Alexander Graham Bell and in retrospect, I would probably not watch both the main DVD and the Bell segment back-to-back.  That was a bit much for the kids’ attention (even Luke and Ben’s) given we were refreshing after a summer off of school.

To read what others thought of this DVD (as well as the Oregon Trail & Pony Express, Historic Expedition of Lewis and Clark,  and Lots and Lots of Penguins and their Happy Feet! DVD that the Crew reviewed), please click on the banner below:

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Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this DVD, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.



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