Saturday, May 16, 2015

Netflix History

 I admit that Spring time is always the hardest time for me to stay motivated to homeschool. My kids just want to play outside and I am worn out from months of being "the enforcer" as far as school work goes.  Every Spring it is the same. I hit the point where I am just not as motivated and my kids aren't motivated so we start getting less and less accomplished. History and Science are usually the first subjects to fall by the way side.

But my feelings of guilt are overcome a bit because we have been using out Netflix Streaming a whole lot and watching some great shows that really have taught us a lot.

We started the History Channel series How the States got their Shapes.  The first half of the series was great! We were learning all sorts of things about why our states are shaped the way they are and tons of history along the way because you can't tell the history of a states' shape without filling in some of the history of the region.  We never finished all the episodes. We lost interest when the show started to be more about how the US is polarized politically and such rather then discussing the actual states and their shapes.

We moved onto another History Channel series called The Men Who Built America. This one was so interesting. A little gritty at times. Vanderbuilt, Rockefeller, Carneige, Morgan and Ford were pretty ruthless in their business dealing. But there is a lot of history taught and we had some great discussions as we talked about each of these men and what they did, good and bad.   There was a whole lot of history here that I didn't know. My History education was sorely lacking. I knew little more than the names of these men and couldn't have even told you what they did before watching this show. Now my kids play Monopoly and call each other Rockefeller or JP Morgan.

David Macaulay books have been a favorite at our house for years. So I thought we would watch this great series called Building Big. Each episode covers a different type of structure. We watched all 5 shows  so we learned about Bridges, Dams, Tunnels, Skyscrapers and Domes. This is a PBS show and sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the American Society of Civil Engineers so I guess you could count this more as science rather than history. But what was really great about this series was that we had already watched those other two shows and the kids knew some of the history behind the structures discussed. So the science was backed up by History they had already studied.

Yesterday we finished yet another History Channel series, The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents. Again another great series that seemed pretty fair or balanced in the telling of each president's history. It explained the sentiment of the nation at the time each president was elected or took office (not all were elected!) And pointed out some of the highlights or low points during their years in office.  The series spent more time on the older presidents and skimmed through the more recent ones but I feel like I learned a lot. Again my poor History education showed in my lack of knowledge about many of these presidents.

 I enjoyed watching all these shows because they filled in so many holes. I know my kids enjoyed them. They were always asking to watch the next episode when the credits ran in the one we were currently finishing.  We often discussed the subjects and people we learned about with their Dad when he came home from work each day. He, being a History major in college and just an all around history and trivia buff, knew most of it already.   I on the other hand need it presented in a very visual way and I then it starts to be made clear. 

Thank goodness for Netflix. It has served us well the last month or two. Our History curriculum would be sadly lacking without access to these great shows.  Thanks also to the History Channel for making them and having them in the Netflix catalog.


Bev said...

Thank you for listing these!

Bibliophile said...

Those History Channel series sound like something I would enjoy watching. One of my minors in college was History, and I love finding out new things.

Have a great trip! I will be thinking of you. Call home once in a while so we know what you're seeing.