May 13, 2013

World War 1 Wrap-Up

Man, last week was busy, busy!  I have been writing guest blog posts, articles for contribution to magazines and websites, getting the garden in and going for summer, and getting a site up for book promotion.  And with all of that, we still managed to finish off our WW1 studies.  Phew!  It's been trickier juggling book promotion with homeschooling than it was juggling book writing with homeschooling.  Somehow, there's more writing involved in promoting than there is in writing.  Haha!  Who'd have guessed?  Anyway, back to WW1!

I have to say that this has been my favorite unit that we've ever done, mostly because it's another one of those things that I never ever learned about in school.  Elementary school, high school, and college...never did I ever get a decent look at WW1.  From what I read, WW1 is almost always glosssed over quickly so people can speed towards WW2, which gets all of the lesson time.  And boy, is it important and interesting stuff!  So I'm going to share what we did, the resources we used, and my favorite insights from the unit because I had to do a lot of my own research and work here.  More than usual, actually, because there is so little academic time committed typically committed to this very important time in history.  Hopefully my resource lists will mean that you won't have to work as hard when you get to WW1!

First, I did my own research and made some lapbook files to get us going.  I've embedded those files here and they pretty much speak for themselves.  They are not, however, in the order that we used them.  I'll bullet point the order of studies and additional research below the embedded files.

~We did a pretty dry lesson on imperialism to kick off our studies, and filled out both the crown book and the causes of imperialism book.

~We looked at the messy Venn of alliances (in the lapbook files) and watched this hilarious video, which is sadly accurate, to have a lighthearted look at how everyone got sucked into war.

~We spent a couple of days on women's suffrage.  Again, I never learned about this and I was moved to tears as we learned about the relationship between Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.  What very different women, who formed a meaningful relationship despite their differences, and out of their love for one another and their shared cause, a movement that would change the lives of American women forever was born.  

This movie gave a beautiful and inspiring look at these women and their contribution to society.  I think learning is always more meaningful when it can tie into current events, and the boys who at first crossed their arms over studying "girl history" soon engaged in really energetic discussion about how they were white men like those who had been given power from the beginning, and how if they had lived back in the day, they would have stood up and voted to share the power with black people and with women because it's just so obviously the right thing to do.  We talked about how maybe it wouldn't have been all that obvious if they had been raised in that culture.  They branched that discussion out into a debate about how those currently in power in our country, now the men and women of all races who are legal citizens, are grappling with the issue of what power to give to those without - the illegal immigrants.  It was interesting listening in on how they felt about the issue.  They've noticed racism among our friends and neighbors with regards to Mexicans, and they feel really upset about that.  After they moved through all of these issues, the boys wanted to back up the video and really pay attention to how Elizabeth and Susan used words to influence people so that they could politely influence people they meet to embrace Mexican, legal or not, with kindness and respect.  I could not have planned for such a rich discussion if I tried, but there it was and I was in awe, for that morning, of what young minds can pull from the most basic of lessons when they aren't rushed through and onto another topic.

I want to also mention that it was in this video that I learned that Susan B. Anthony was a Quaker.  It struck me that during our Civil War unit, we learned that it was the Quakers who ran the underground railroad, who worked to help freed slaves find resources and education in their new lives, and here again, at a turning point in American history, they were there standing up for the rights of the minority.  How fascinating that Quakers seem to have been so progressive in their thinking and so right on the pulse of righteousness regardless of cultural norms all this time.  At no point have Quakers been a dominant religion, but at every point they appear to have enacted change that enriched the lives of all Americans.  I feel so overwhelmed with gratitude to that simple religious minority for being so powerful despite their numbers, so wise despite the culture, and so inspirational to those of us who are also part of a group that is small in number but mighty in spirit.

~We spent a couple of days talking about the technologies that changed the face of warfare.  We read that the British soldiers would chant, "Don't forget that we have got the Maxim gun and they have not," in times of  extreme fear, to reassure themselves that their superior weapons would save them.  This was of particular interest to our family because the arms inventor, Hudson Maxim, came and met with Abdul Baha on his visit to America.  Maxim heard that Abdul Baha was here to talk peace, and being a man who made his fortune inventing new weapons of war, he felt compelled to go meet this peace-teacher and try to convince him that war is the only way.  I won't go into detail about that meeting here.  If you're interested in the story, which is full of beautiful examples of how we can deal with the most difficult people in life, there is a well written account of it here.

Other new war making devices that we studied, besides the Maxim gun, included barbed wire, trench warfare, tanks, submarines, air-based warfare, and flame throwers.

~The Zimmerman Telegram was one of the most fascinating little tidbits we looked at, and among the most fun was finding conspiracy theory websites and seeing how the framed the incident.  I've got to say that I'm kind of with the crazies on this one.  We read a lot about it, the theories, the different accounts of what it might have actually said versus what we are told it said.  This was kind of just a for-fun free for all kind of topic.  I wanted to find a legit, and in depth video about just this topic, but I couldn't find one.  If you know of one, pass it on!

~ At the last minute, while wrapping up our studies, I found this video called the Last Day of World War 1, and it was kind of mind blowing.  Apparently we signed a treaty, the war was set to end in six hours, and we just kept sending men to fight right to the last second.  Thousands of Americans died even after the treaty was signed, which just blows my mind!  This video details that strange little incident and historians discuss why it might have happened the way it did.

That pretty much sums up our WW1 studies!  We're going to celebrate the finish line with a pot of soldier stew (baked beans) and cornbread, whiel we watch War Horse again.  Really, you can't study WW1 without War Horse.  If you haven't seen it, read the book first.  It's beautiful.  And then watch the movie.  It's also beautiful, but it's fun for the kids to get to discuss the differences between the two!

We're still putting their lapbooks together and putting the finishing touches on.  We had several writing assignments where the kids did journal entries as someone in the time period, so those will go in the lapbooks as well.  When we get them all glued and pieced together, I'll add a photo.  In the mean time, if you have any questions about the folding of the mini books in the above lapbook files, or what content goes inside, please drop your question in the comment section below and I'll respond ASAP!  And if you have tips for things that you would have added, that we can use next time we roll through this time period (4 years from now), please share those as well!

Hope this was helpful for all of you brilliant homeschooling mommas out there!

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