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Refreshing History for the Present to Make Sense

Posted on Posted in Blog, Color Me Educated, History/Social Studies

Refreshing History for the Present to Make Sense

In the last presidential election I waited in line with my three kids for over two hours to vote.  Then the oldest was eleven and the two youngest were 5 and 4.  There were definitely moments when the kiddos pleaded to get out of the cramped school hallway.  All three of my children whined every time we shuffled slowly forward from one end of the hallway to the other in a crooked winding ‘U’ shaped line.   The two youngest kiddos didn’t understand what was the big deal? How could they?  But, I did try to help my oldest understand that there was a time when her great grandmother could not vote.  A reality, I also explained, for many people in the line who looked like us.
There is a misconception, I believe, that learning history is not important.  The history teacher in me is repulsed by such a thought.  However, I understand that not all children, including my own, will share my thirst for wanting to know ‘How and why that happened’.   Still, it is vital for our three to be able to have context or an understanding of how and why certain events unfolded and ultimately surround an issue today.  When my children can draw on historical context then I know that they have a deeper understanding of how certain events in the past impact them.  And others who look like them as well.



Refreshing History for the Present to Make Sense


What will they comprehend? Scramble for Africa or European colonization of Africa
Recent events in West Africa with the Ebola virus may have stirred up some questions or curiosity about the state of the African continent.  I always like to clarify with my children that first, Africa is a continent and not a country. Second, that all of the people of Africa do not live in poverty.  Colonization is covered in World History classes and is also a great way to explain why Africa has the problems it has today.
First, review African geography with this video
Africa Geography Rap Song 



Review the concept of imperialism/take over by another country
Have them start the video at 3:40 to get straight to the review on European Imperialism of Africa



After viewing make sure your high school scholar tells you three reasons why Europeans were interested in taking over Africa.


Lastly, have your scholar watch the movie Shaka Zulu, at least the first thirty minutes.



Have them write down for you in at least two paragraphs (7 sentences each) how did the Zulus feel about European takeover?








Refreshing History for the Present to Make Sense


What will they comprehend? Describe the impact of the competition among European countries on the various kingdoms of the Americas and Africa, including the Columbian Exchange and the slave trade.


First have them watch this video on the Columbian Exchange



Have your kiddo think about what they gained as a result of the Columbian Exchange after looking at this map.


What items on this chart can they live without? What items can they not?
 Finally have them choose three items on the chart and create an America without these items.  How would things be different?  Make sure they give you lots of examples!






Refreshing History for the Present to Make Sense

 What will they comprehend? Summarize the cause-and-effect relationships of the Columbian Exchange.
You can have your whiz kid get a leg up on history by having them learn about the Columbian Exchange on this PBS site.  Just click ‘launch’ to get started.


Next, have them complete this neat interactive map on the Columbian Exchange.


 Bonus! This site also includes two questions to answer and one chart to make in relation to this map!


Lastly, have them think about their favorite meal.  Using Google Earth, have them figure out where they would have to go in the world to get all of the things needed for their meal IF there was no Columbian Exchange.








Refreshing History for the Present to Make Sense


What will they comprehend? Explain the purpose of rules and laws and the consequences of breaking them.
First read: Lottie Paris and the Best Place


Next, discuss rules in the house and which ones they like or do not like.  And why there are rules.
 Lastly, ask your future scholar if they were president, what type of rules would they make AND why!



Here's to Closing the Achievement Gap!



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