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Hands-on US History

Tentative Course Outline for “Hands-On History”


Offered by Learn Beyond the Book


Instructor: Erin Donovan


Fall 2015

Sept 8 – Overview of the semester – we will be working to understand important events in 20th century history using culture, archaeology, literature and history…

Discussion and Group Activities: Who tells the story of history and does that viewpoint affect the story? Is history really fact or just someone’s perspective? What is culture?
Activity: Archaeological excavation of my vehicle
Activity – Garbage excavation
Sept 15 – Revisiting early American settlements including Massachusetts, Virginia, Florida, Louisiana and California.

Discussion and Group Activities: We will discuss the differences between English, Spanish and French colonization touching on women, slaves, Native Americans, and more. We will then break into groups and choose projects for the following week that show a contrast between stories in history books and realities of different groups. We will read excerpts from various writings of the time in the afternoon session.
Sept 22 – Revisiting early American settlements continued – group projects.

Sept 29 – Revisiting early American settlements continued – group presentations.

Oct 6 – Revisiting the American Revolution.

We will spend today learning about the American Revolution from the history books. Fun facts, dates, etc.
Oct 13 – Revisiting the American Revolution continued – today we will rewrite the history books from the perspective of an Iroquois woman and a British redcoat.

Oct 20 – Revisiting the American Revolution – today we will research the material culture of the time. In the afternoon, we will use this research to create a mock camp for each of the three groups discussed last week. Brainstorm: what can we learn about each culture from the material goods we found in their camps?

Oct 27 – Revisiting the American Revolution – we will work individually to research a famous character from this time period. One French, one “American”, one “British”, one “Native” at a minimum. By the end of the afternoon, we will share why the Revolution was important to each of these groups.

Nov 3, 10, 17 – Revisiting Early American politics.

This unit will look at cultural values of our founding fathers and how that took shape in the Declaration of Independence as well as the Constitution.
Activities and Discussions will focus on our current Presidential race, looking at everything from the Federalists and Anti-Federalists to the realities of a two-party system to the electoral college and separation of church and state.
Nov 24 – Thanksgiving Break

Dec 1 – Tying it all together – Movie viewing

Dec 8 – 29 Christmas Break

Jan 5 – Revisiting the Civil War

This unit will look again at cultural values and the differing perspectives of women, African-Americans, Native Americans, middle-class and the wealthy throughout the United States just prior to the Civil War. Our first day will combine discussion, class activities and group research.
Jan 12 – Revisiting the Civil War continued – we will tackle parts of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and excerpts from other literature of the time in the morning and will write our own short stories from differing perspectives in the afternoon.

Jan 19 – Revisiting the Civil War continued – we will excavate the home of a slave and a plantation owner to see what we can learn about these groups both in early America and by the Civil War to understand how perspectives on slavery changed over those first several hundred years and will try to understand why.

Class to be continued in Spring, starting with Reconstruction…

Teacher: Erin Donovan

Ages: 8-13yo.

Cost: Please see pricing chart

To register: Click here

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