First The Photo: Do you know where this likeness stands? Can you find that city on a map? This monument stands as a tribute to the President who took the phrase.. “All men are created equal..” and gave it the value and purpose it deserved.
Second The Question: This Sunday we celebrate the birthday of our 16th President. Abraham Lincoln began his life with very humble beginnings and worked his way up to be ruler of the United States of America. Then he used that power for a greater purpose. He believed in the words of our Constitution and worked to ensure that it applied it to all Americans. He changed the face of America in amazing ways. He was once quoted as saying: “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” Do you see ways that you can help obtain freedom for others? Do you know of friends and neighbors who are not given the freedoms they deserve? What can we do, today, to help advance freedom for all people?
Third Next Steps: Look up the Constitution of the United States. Read the Preamble as a family. What things does it promise? Talk about what those freedoms and responsibilities mean in today’s world. How do we continue to promote the promises listed: Establish Justice, Insure domestic tranquility, provide for common defense, promote the general welfare, secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and to our posterity? Abraham Lincoln’s determination to end slavery was finalized when the 13th Amendment was passed. Read the words of the 13th Amendment..these represent the fulfillment of his life’s works. Pretty powerful stuff. If you were given the ability to change one thing here in America what would it be? How do you think it would effect our citizens? How do you think it would impact the larger world?
Before you set off changing the world, remember one more of Abraham Lincoln’s quotes: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Wise words to ponder. Spend some time celebrating the amazing life and birthday of our 16th President this weekend.
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First the Photo: Can you name this National Monument? Can you find where it is located on a map of the US?
Second the Question: Do you know it is referred to as the Gateway to the West? There was once a time in American history when many families packed everything they owned in a covered wagon and headed out on a journey that would last months. It would required them to walk miles each day, cross raging rivers, climb mountain passes and go for weeks without seeing another living soul. Can you imagine leaving family and friends behind, knowing that you will never see them again and heading to a place you have never seen, even in pictures, to begin your life anew? That is serious courage. Many people would never survive the trip. They went for one reason: the hope of a better life for themselves and their children. Would you make such a journey? If so, where would you go?
Third Next Steps: Spend some time as a family imagining life on the trail. First what would you pack up and bring with you..a treasured piece of furniture? A keepsake from a past relative? Remember that your wagon could only hold the bare essentials..and needed to have space for all of you to sleep too. Next using just recycled items build a diorama of a homestead you would live once you arrived. This is a fun thing to do around Thanksgiving. As you build your diorama remember that everything you include, someone would need to create…every sock you wear, someone needs to knit. Every new piece of furniture you acquire, someone needs to cut and split the wood to build. Every meal you eat, needs to be hunted, gathered or grown. It boggles the mind the talents and courage that people needed just to survive. Would you move and be a farmer, a rancher, a store owner, a teacher or pastor? What skill would your family offer to a new settlement of people? Go to the library and check out some books about pioneering life. It sure makes us thankful for the comforts we have today. Whenever we feel stressed by our modern life..spend a few minutes remembering people of the past and let the gratitude of their sacrifices sink in. How grateful we are for their courage and our comforts.
First the Picture(s): Can you locate the place where each of these pictures was taken and can you name the type of civilization each of these communities once represented?
Second The Question: There are as many different ways to rule a group of people as there are civilizations to rule. You could be President of a Democracy or King/Queen of a monarchy. You could be a Pirate ruling the seas or a Dictator commanding an Empire. If you were in charge..what rules would you make? What things would you forbid? What would you make mandatory? Would you allow others to give input or would you demand that everyone do as you say?
Third Next Steps: After you dream of all the crazy rules you would make..try to think of the problems that come with being in charge? Can you see any down sides to ruling a group of people? What happens if the people you govern don’t like your ideas? What steps would you put in place if someone disagrees? What are things that rulers provide for the people they govern? Safety, structure, input, education, food, jobs? What would you provide?
Think of small communities and the people who rule them..Like a Family. Try letting each person be in charge for a day. Write down the rules you would set and then try to list the consequences of that rule. If you let everyone sleep as long as they want..what would happen? Or if each person ate whatever they wanted at every meal. Who would pay for all of that food? It is challenging to maintain balance within a small group of people imagine how hard it would be to run a country. You can see that it helps if the people that live in a country have the ability to give feedback and input to the rulers in charge?
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First The Photo: What kind of animals are these? List all of the things you know about them: what noises do they make, what do they like to eat, where do they live, what do they have in common with you, what things are different?
Second The Question: Did you know that goats are typically born in sets of 2? An instant sibling, two peas in a pod. Who are your siblings? How old are they? What do you have in common? How do you differ from one another? What things do you like to do together? What is good about having a sibling? What would be good things about being an only child? What would be different if your sibling was a different gender? Or a different age? What do you like about your birth order? What do you wish was different?
Third Next Step: Siblings have a profound impact on the person we become. As a child we often forget about how our parent’s sibling relationships effected the person that they grew to become. Did they have the same fights that we have with our siblings?Talk with your parents and your grandparents about their sibling experiences. Start by drawing a family tree. Include your parent’s siblings(your aunts and uncles) and your grandparent’s siblings( your great aunts and uncles) add in their spouses and their children. Can you also add in birthdates, marriage dates and dates of any deaths. Now you are building your family genealogy. Where do each of your parents and grandparents fit in the birth order of their siblings? How did their upbringing differ if they were the first born, the middle child or the youngest child? Compare your experiences with anyone who shares your same birth order. Do you have some similar personality traits? Do you think it has anything to do with the order of your birth? Ask each person about the memories they have with their siblings. Do they have one sibling that they were closest to? Was that sibling close in age? Where they the same gender? Learn about how their relationships grew and changed as they became adults. How do they view their siblings now? What evolved in their relationships as they grew and started families of their own? This is a fun conversation to video tape. It can be fun to hear family memories and save them on tape to enjoy again later. Your history makes you who you are. Storing those memories creates a treasure trove of family folklore.
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First The Photo: Where can you have the opportunity to sit right next to Franklin Delano Roosevelt? Can you guess where this picture was taken? If you know the city, can you google a map of the city and find the specific monument? It is a wonderful way to teach the difference between country, state, and city, with their various scopes and scales.
Second The Question: Do you think that FDR or Anne Frank or Abraham Lincoln knew that they were capturing history by keeping a personal journal? Most people don’t think about the fact that each time in history is unique and right now we are all living history. Last week we talked about our favorite time in history, this week talk about the person from history you would be most interested in meeting. Would you like to hear a firsthand account of the New Deal from FDR himself? Or would you rather talk to Julia Caesar and learn about what Rome was like back in the days when the Colosseum was used for more than just tourist visits? Would you like to hear about Lewis and Clarks adventures as they explored the unsettled West? Or would you enjoy hearing the gruesome tales of battles fought and won from Joan of Arc? Without personal accounts, journals or biographers we would not have the ability to share the rich history that we now cherish.
Third Next Steps: You could be part of that process. Begin capturing your own history. There are several simple ways to start. For really young children have them draw a picture each day of their favorite memory from the day’s events. This can be a nice part of the bedtime routine. A way to calm down and sum up the day’s experiences. It can also be a fun way for you to find out what they remember the most. For older children the easiest way to begin journaling is to get a calendar with fairly large squares for each day. Then at the end of the day have your child simply fill the day’s square with notes about what happened during their day, or how they felt about what happened. It can be a great way for them to practice their descriptive writing and an easy way to begin feeling sharing from the day. As children get older buying them a nice covered journal at the beginning of each New Year can be a great tradition. It will be an amazing keepsake for them, later in life, to see first-hand their own memories in their own words.
First The Photo: Where was this taken? Hint: It was once the main residence of the infamous King Henry VIII….
Second The Question: History comes alive through stories, movies and visits to famous places that allow you to see and experience the sights, sounds and smells of civilizations that once inhabited our world. It is fascinating to learn about the past, both good and bad. We come away with a deeper understanding of what shaped us into the people we are today. What is your favorite time of history? Do you have a favorite historical story? Do you like to learn about the times of inspiration or do you lean towards hearing about times of strife?
Third Next Steps: Take a trip to your local public library. Venture into the nonfiction sections, either in the children’s department or in the adult sections. Check out a book, story book or nonfiction video tape about a time in history. Choose a historical event that is relevant to youf or your family. Share some background with your child before you begin watching the video or reading the book. Spend time after debriefing about what you learned. It can also be fun to watch videos that are fictional stories set in specific times in history. Examples are: Sound of Music set in Austria during WWII, or The King and I set in the Far East while England was still a major power there. These are both fun family friendly versions that bring history to life.