Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Mayflower Tour

Thursday, September 23rd, 2021

mayflower-tour

Last month my family flew to the east coast for a family reunion with my husband’s family, and one of our favorite activities was touring the Mayflower! The ship is a replica of the original ship, which went back to England and eventually deteriorated.

Mayflower Tour

Here is our tour of the ship:

My husband’s sister lives in Massachussetts, which is the area where the Pilgrims landed in the New World back in 1620. We hadn’t seen this side of our family in six years, so my kids were excited to see how much their cousins had grown. We had a wonderful time re-connecting.

plymouth-rock-sign

Plymouth Rock is still there, even though it has been chipped away by tourists for years, making it better called Plymouth Pebble. It’s a bit anti-climactic for present-day tourists, who look down on it from the cage or jail cell where it now resides near the beach where the Mayflower ship replica is harbored.

plymouth-rock

When we climbed aboard the Mayflower, we stepped back in time. The ship is actually quite small! Above deck, we walked around the ship, which is not very much exercise, since the entire ship from front to back is only about a dozen steps in total.

on-deck-mayflower

Below deck, it was easy to envision the cramped conditions of the 102 men, women, and children who were living down here for 66 days–over two months! I felt sorry for them, since their conditions didn’t improve that much when they arrived in the New World, only to die of starvation.

inside-mayflower

No wonder Thanksgiving Day really affects our hearts, to know that the Native Americans helped the Pilgrims to survive in this unknown land. We give thanks every year for all the many blessings we take for granted, which the Pilgrims had to mostly do without.

This was a really fun educational field trip for American history that I’d always wanted to do with my kids. It was worth doing, and I’m glad we got to do it with our extended family.

If you want more hands-on activities for this time period, check out our Pilgrims Unit Study!

Nostalgia from a 1950’s Diner

Monday, February 18th, 2019

1950s-diner

Recently my dad has been in and out of the emergency room as he is getting blood clots, has difficulty breathing, and is fighting cancer. He’s at home now, although weak. When I was sitting in the hospital room, watching him sleep, I had plenty of time to think back over all the years I’ve known him, special memories of growing up. One of those memories was my dad getting out his 1950’s records, blasting the tunes while my sisters and I danced all silly and slid across the floor in our woolen slippers. It still makes me smile.

So when I came across these pictures of my husband and I with our children in a 1950’s malt shop in Spokane, I stopped and thought about why the 1950’s meant so much to me, even though it was long before I was born. It meant a lot to me because it meant a lot to my dad.

diner-from-the-1950s

I remember back when I lived in California, I took my dad to a fun 1950’s malt shop where we were able to experience the ambiance of my dad’s favorite decade, from 1950’s music to the decor to the flavors of the food. His face lit up with joy because he was transported back in time.

strawberry-malt

My dad looked so happy, sitting in the booth with me, eating his burger and fries with a malt. He was quite emotional. It was like going back to your grandma’s house after many decades, breathing in the familiar environment where so many happy memories were made. The aroma of my own grandma’s house would always transport me back to childhood, and I felt young and free again, with the whole world opening up before me, full of endless possibilities.

flipping-burgers

Now I sit looking at these photographs of my own husband and kids, enjoying a modern history field trip where we were able to experience the 1950’s as if we had lived through that time period for real.

Some day my own kids will look back on their own memories of their parents blasting through the house our favorite decade music–the 1980’s. My own kids have a love for 1980’s music because it was played the same way my dad played his music, with joy and nostalgia.

To see the 1950’s birthday party I threw my dad several years ago (including pictures of my jukebox cake and poodle skirt), click here.

High School Government Series

Monday, December 4th, 2017

high-school-government

If you are a parent of a student in high school, at some point your student has to take a class on government. To make the study of high school government more enjoyable, your student will LOVE these goofy videos and hands-on activities!

High School Government Videos:

  1. Types of Government: A fun video re-enacting dictatorship, oligarchy, monarchy, republic, true democracy, and anarchy. Includes my kids dressed up as playing cards.
  2. How a Bill Becomes a Law: My daughter (a bill) is pushed around by her brothers (Congress and the President) through the process of making a bill into a law.
  3. Preamble to the Constitution: A simple reading of the Preamble to the Constitution, with skits of various kinds to humorously bring to life each segment.
  4. Presidential Line of Succession: The President keels over, to be replaced by the Vice-President; who keels over to be replaced by the Speaker of the House; who keels over to be replaced…
  5. What are the Federal Executive Departments? Each of the Federal Executive Departments are dramatized by goofy kids in order to understand each department better.
  6. How the Judicial System Works: A Chicago gangster is counterfeiting money in his basement. Two federal agents break into his house and tell him he in under arrest. The remainder of the short video depicts how the judicial system works.
  7. The Bill of Rights: The first ten amendments of the U.S. Constitution are dramatized in this fun video.
  8. Make Your Own State Tourism Brochures: We take a break from all of our skits to show how to make a tourist pamphlet for your state. A couple of my kids have humorous pamphlets.
  9. Typical Campaign Promises: A silly skit by a candidate running for President, promising outlandish things that can never be fulfilled.
  10. How Government Gets Its Money: No matter what you do with your money, the government will want a piece of the action. Watch each scene from federal, state, and local taxes to see how the government holds out his hand for money to be forked over.

A couple of other hands-on activities go well with the study of high school government:

  1. Civitas Government Game: My kids loved this game, re-enacted it, and filmed it from the roof of my house. Make their risk worth it by watching their video, which was created, filmed, and edited entirely by my teen sons.
  2. Government Activity Books for High School: These Dover Publications books include pop-up Presidents, a 3-D White House model, and activity books that include other hands-on craft ideas. There are detailed coloring pages that can be used for notebooking, along with word searches, crossword puzzles, and code breakers.

Hopefully these skits and hands-on activities will make your students enjoy their study of high school government!

How Government Gets Its Money

Monday, May 29th, 2017

how-government-gets-its-money

The U.S. government at the federal, state, and local levels has to get its money from somewhere. So it taxes individuals, businesses, and corporations to get the money it wants for its countless programs. Today we will show you through a series of skits how this is done.

The Notgrass Company has sponsored these fun blog posts because we are basing this series on their Exploring Government book. One of the chapters requires students to understand the ways that citizens are taxed. We continue our series of high school government with another set of skits for your enjoyment.

How the Government Gets Its Money

Federal Taxes:

The income tax is the main source of federal revenue, providing over half of federal money. This is a progressive tax, which means higher incomes are taxed more.

The next biggest source of revenue for the federal government is the payroll tax, which provides about one-third of federal money. This tax helps pay for Social Security and Medicare.

Other taxes include an excise tax of things like tobacco, alcohol, jewelry, and guns, customs of tariff duties on some imported goods, estate taxes when an heir’s inheritance exceeds $2 million, and much more.

learn-about-taxes

State Taxes:

States also have an income tax. Some states don’t tax personal income, and so have to rely more on other taxes. Usually, income tax rates are form 2 to 6 percent.

Another major state tax is the sales tax. Most states impose a flat statewide rate and let counties and cities add an additional tax on sales within their borders.

States also get a lot of revenue from automobile-related taxes. In about half of the states, there is an Ad valorem (to the value) tax for registering a vehicle. There are also taxes of alcohol, tobacco, utilities, theme parks, and hotels/motels.

taxing-cars

Local Taxes:

Cities and counties impose property tax on the assessed value of the real property in them. Homeowners and business owners both pay property tax. There is also a business tax, which is a small percentage of the total sales a business has in a year. Counties also charge for a business license.

I hope you enjoyed our re-enactment of “How Government Gets Its Money.” We made quite a few props for these skits, and we had a blast behind the scenes!

We truly enjoyed producing this series of high school government posts, breaking down concepts from the Exploring Government book, and making them come to life! If you would like to buy the book, get it from the Notgrass website to bless their family the most!