Putting Black Lives Matter into Perspective: Our Study of American History.

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Note to reader: I don’t think Black Lives Matter is political per se, although I do understand that the movement itself has political consequences as well they should.  I hope that this is about as political as I’ll get on the blog but also felt it was important to share how or homeschool allows us and encourages us to dig a little deeper into current events and learn about how our history shapes our current political and social landscape. 

I’ve never been good at memorising facts or dates, but history has always been important to me. History is the context by which we make incredibly important decisions and history is a window to understanding other cultures. This is why history will a very significant part of our homeschool.

I’ve mentioned before that I feel that raising young men is a great responsibility. Raising any child there is responsibility of course, but raising boys that become white male allies is important, and the privilege that comes with being white and male creates it’s own hurdles. One of those hurdles is that it is still too easy to learn history through a white male perspective provided in many of our history books.

I also found that as I was answering questions about Black Lives Matter they had little historical context… What they had learned went something like “Slavery, Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr has a dream, everything is great because black and white kids can be friends.” I think this lack of context is why (white) people seem so surprised by the Black Lives Matter movement… as if it came from nowhere.

This is why we’ve decided that we will be studying American history from the first slaves landing in Jamestown in 1619 to the current #BlackLivesMatter movement. We’ll end our period of study with at trip to the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington DC.

I know, my timing is off because it’s not black history month. Why start in November and not February? Because I intend for this study to take much longer than 28 (or 29) days. In fact, I have no end date for this particular theme. We’ll spend as long as we need in order to make it through. When we study African American History, we study American History so we’ll learn about a few notable white men along the way too.

Of course, we’ll still be taking hikes and playing in nature, that never stops, but if you are following our adventures on the blog and on Instagram you’ll likely see many trips and activities related to this subject as well.

Current events have informed our study and our recent trip to Jamestown was a perfect jumping off point. I feel very fortunate that we have the freedom to learn history this way.

 

Here’s what we’ve checked out from the library to begin our study:
(Amazon affiliate links below if you don’t find these at the library or cannot find a local bookstore which carries them. If you cannot buy locally, please consider purchasing through my link to help support this blog.)

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Chains (The Seeds of America Trilogy)  by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Underground Abductor An Abolitionist Tale about Harriet Tubman – Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales
Frederick’s Journey The Life of Frederick Douglass  by Doreen Rappaport
Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
Dear Benjamin Banneker  by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate
Phillis’s Big Test By Catherine Clinton

I’ll keep an updated list of books in posts every so often as we go along.

Please feel free to leave us recommendations of places to go or books to read on facebook, instagram or on the blog as we go!

Day at Jamestown Settlement

Every once in awhile, usually as we are driving to Virginia Beach or somewhere south, I’d say out loud in the car, “we should really go to Jamestown.”   I hadn’t been in about 25 years, but I did remember Jamestown Settlement capturing my imagination as a kid.

So, finally, we packed in the car and went.

Jamestown Settlement is a living history museum just down the road from Historic Jamestown (the actual historic site).  At Jamestown Settlement, you can walk through a recreation of the Jamestown fort along with a Powhatan Indian village and the three ships which first sailed to Jamestown in 1607: the Susan Constant, Discovery, and Godspeed.

The museum ticket also includes a film which we skipped because 3 out of the 5 of us don’t really sit well for these kinds of things.   We’ve talked about Jamestown at length before we went so we felt okay skipping it; however, I hear that if you are a bit unfamiliar with Jamestown or it’s been a while, the film helps you get more out of your visit.  There is also a gallery indoors which takes you through the history of the settlement… that we also skipped for the sake of time and hungry bellies but I really want to come back and check that part out.

Besides, it was a beautiful day outside and we’d been in the car for an hour, so we headed straight for the outdoor portion of the museum.

Jamestown Settlement is delightfully hands on.  The kids were actively encouraged to touch things and try different activities, allowing them to really learn about the culture and immerse themselves in each place.

Our first stop was the Powhatan Indian village.

Powhatan Village Jamestown Settlement Review

Jamestown Settlement Review Homeschool Field Trip

The kids pounded corn into flour, used oyster shells to take the fur off an animal skin, worked on creating a net and played games.  There were lots of houses to visit and explore, and you can see what a Powhatan Indian home would have looked like (quite cozy). Max studied Native Americans of Virginia quite a bit and was a great tour guide as we explored Powhatan homes.

Jamestown Settlement Review Homeschooling History is Fun

Jamestown Settlement Review A Multifaceted Mama Homeschool field trip

Homeschool Field Trip to Jamestown Settlement

The ships were Hudson’s favorite part of the trip.  I was struck by how small they were and we talked about the challenges of living on such a small boat with so many others. Sadly, I didn’t get a ton of pictures on the boat because once we got on the boat, the kids were immediately running around in all directions. The proximity to water, the challenges of fitting through doorways with a baby on my back and the many levels of the boats made taking pictures a little bit less of a priority.

Jamestown Settlement Discovery ship review

James Fort recreated what the homes were like around 1610 – 1614.  The kids could hear the musket fire throughout our trip and were excited to finally see a demonstration.  They also got a chance to try it out themselves with their own wooden muskets which was… entertaining.  Let’s just say ADD and Colonial warfare make a really bad combination.

Jamestown Settlement Review day trip homeschool

They tried on some 17th century armor and toured the Governor’s house, an Anglican Church, and smaller homes. The Fort was filled with the smell of smoke and gunpowder which helped create the atmosphere.

Jamestown Settlement review Homeschool

Homeschool Field trip to Jamestown Virginia Settlement review

Hands on Field Trip to Jamestown Virginia review

Jamestown Settlement Review

Jamestown Settlement Review Jamestown Virginia Homeschool field trip

We spent a little over 3 hours at Jamestown Settlement, but definitely could have spent more if we had stayed for the movie and to check out the galleries.  There are a couple areas that make good spots to stop and have some lunch; if you plan to visit, be sure to pack some snacks. There is a cafe at the entrance which seemed to have pretty standard museum-cafe fare. After 3 hours in any particular place and certain members of our group start slowly falling apart.

We’ll definitely be heading back to Jamestown Settlement and checking out the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.  If you’re interested in checking it out yourself you can find out more information here.

Jamestown settlement review Jamestown Virginia