Thursday, June 21, 2018

White House Holidays

Our family enjoys learning together as much as possible, so we're always pleased to review unit studies. This style of learning fits perfectly with our family. While the kids do have their independent studies, I love incorporating family learning daily. Our conversations twist and turn and we end up talking about so much more than what is in the lesson. This part of our day is special to me. 

The curriculum that is currently inspiring those deeper conversations is the White House Holidays Unit Studies. While there are plenty of resources that help homeschoolers learn about holidays in depth, this one, from Silverdale Press LLC, is different. These studies focus on American presidents and the White House during each holiday.

Silverdale Press was founded by Jill and Joshua Hummer in order to provide quality resources for homeschoolers written by experts of the subjects. Along with these holiday studies, the company also offers a presidential election unit study and a persuasive writing and classical rhetoric course.

There are currently 6 individual unit for studying the White House Holidays.

Each study contains several detailed lessons that are designed for grades K-12. The lessons include history about the specific holiday along with information about various presidents. One thing I like about unit studies specifically is that we apply that topic to multiple subjects. Along with history and government, these unit cover things such as literature, poetry, writing, music, art, and baking skills. These creative activities add a hands-on learning aspect that further enriches the study.

Veteran's Day was the first unit we studied. I chose this because my kids are fascinated by battles, wars, and military tactics and this particular study is chock full of historical facts. This one comes with a set of 3 lessons for grades K-6 and a set for grades 7-12. The elementary stories are exciting and shorter and the activities are visual and hands-on, while the secondary narratives are filled with more details and the activities are focused on reading, writing, and thinking skills.

Since my kids are ages 3-12, I chose to use the elementary lessons.
  1. President Woodrow Wilson and the Story of Armistice Day
  2. President Wilson and Food Czar Hoover at War
  3. The Story of Dwight Eisenhower and How We Got Veteran's Day
The activities include a poppy pin craft, "In Flander's Field" copywork, various exercises for food conservation, and many suggestions for honoring veterans both on the holiday and throughout the year.

We have close family members who are veterans, so this was a special study for us. It made history become real as we discussed how they lived during those times and what hardships they faced. I wish I would have looked at the narratives first though instead of assuming we'd need the younger set. The secondary version is definitely much deeper and so fascinating. I read my kids more advanced literature quite often, so these lessons would have been perfect for them. They were enthralled with the small portion I did read to them. I do think the elementary activities were perfect for us though.

My middle child asked to do the Christmas study next. This one has only one set of lessons for all ages, and while there is history woven throughout, it is different than our first unit. This one focuses more on a White House theme and a special feature about how they celebrate Christmas. It has 4 lessons with a total of 24 activities.
  1. Jacqueline Kennedy, The Nutcracker Suite, and the White House Crรจche
  2. Betty Ford, Handmade Folk Art, and the Gingerbread House
  3. Barbara Bush, a Story Book Christmas, and the White House Tree
  4. Michelle Obama, Simple Gifts and Military Families, and Christmas Cards
This study could easily fill the entire month of December with Christmas-themed learning! The activities vary from creating your own nativity scene, writing a poem, making ornaments and decorations, reading speeches, listening to music, painting conifers, designing a Christmas card, baking goodies and more.

My kids especially liked that each lesson included a recipe from a First Lady, though they thought it was a little silly to be drinking hot chocolate when it was 90 degrees outside, ha.

My daughter chose our third study, Valentine's Day, of course. Don't let the title fool you though; while this unit is full of love stories, there is still much history in its pages. The letters themselves are windows to times past.
  1. The Love Letters of John and Abigail Adams
  2. The Love Letters of Ronald and Nancy Reagan
  3. The White House Wedding of John Tyler and Julia Tyler
  4. The White House Wedding of Grover Cleveland and Frances Folsom Cleveland
  5. Valentine's Day 1962 and Jacqueline Kennedy's Television Tour of the White House
The accompany activities include writing letters, creating valentines, aging paper, reading poems, baking goodies, answering questions, and more. There are suggestions for both elementary and secondary age groups.

My favorite part of this study took place while reading the love letters between John and Abigail Adams. The art of letter writing was much more pronounced and language was very different hundreds of years ago. I read "me thinks" and a giggle fest ensued. The kids thought the phrase was hilarious and repeated it often over the next few days.

These White House Holidays Unit Studies are fun resources to utilize throughout the year. The lessons are written so that you can read them to your students without any prep work. They are interesting and age-appropriate. There are many pictures throughout along with speeches, poems, letters, and links that further enhance your study.

I'm sure we'll study these holidays again along with the other 3 (Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Martin Luther King, Jr.) at the appropriate times of year and truly delve into all that these unit studies have to offer.

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