Posts Tagged ‘Bright Ideas Press’

Modern History Notebook

Monday, September 14th, 2015

modern-history-notebookThis post contains affiliate links. I was compensated for my work in writing this post.

Today I will be showing you our modern history notebook that we put together during our study of American history. We made two notebooks for the year: one for the Civil War and one for the true modern culture starting at the turn of the century. In our series on modern history, I have shown you many hands-on activities, field trips, and themed parties that help to bring this time period to life. Now I will focus on the written work.


We used the charts and maps from All American History, Volume II. I liked the fact that my kids had to color and cut out the flags of the different countries involved in the wars. World War I and World War II are especially important to keep separate and are often taught in the schools one after the other. I purposely spent longer than a week (3 weeks!) on World War I so that the kids understood trench warfare and early airplanes. I did NOT want the two world wars to blur together  in their minds.


As you can see in the demonstration video at the bottom of this post, we decorated the cover of the modern history notebook with 3-dimensional stickers from World War II. We divided the binder into different sections:

Take a look at our finished Modern History Notebook:

Antique Train Tour

Monday, August 17th, 2015

antique-train-tourThis post contains affiliate links. I was compensated for my work in writing this post.

Today I will be taking you on an antique train tour. This is a fun field trip if you are studying modern history. We have been using All American History, Volume II this year for our American History studies, and this is one field trip that is mentioned in the book to help experience this time period. This particular train was built in the 1940’s.

Trains were built to transport people and freight from one end of the country to the other. Train tracks criss-crossed the nation back during a time when cars did not yet exist and horses and buggies were too slow. Even today, trains are the most economical way to transport heavy objects from one place to another.


Antique passenger trains would have a dining car with a counter and stools. You could order your food and listen to music over the old-fashioned radio. (You will see this in the short video tour.) The ceiling was arched and ribbed. The kitchen was located behind and to the side of the dining car, with a narrow corridor leading to the next train car.

dining-trainHere is where people would sit to eat a proper dinner. Hopefully the dishes wouldn’t be rattling as the train rolled over the tracks.


This is a bathroom. The yellow paint makes it cheerful, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that it is such a small room, almost like a closet. The red seat can be pulled up to go to the bathroom. The sink is super small, as you can see.


There were some old-fashioned lanterns and other paraphernalia from that time period, enclosed behind various glass cases that were museum-like. I show you a lot more trinkets in the video, like an old-fashioned telephone and typewriter.


These are your regular train seats where you would sit and enjoy the scenery while you were going to your destination.

There was a small model train at the end of the tour, with bridges, trees, tunnels, and other fun features. My kids really enjoyed being able to experience what life was like during the 1940’s.

Here is the short 6-minute antique train tour:

Historic Tour of Spokane

Monday, July 27th, 2015

historic-tour-of-spokaneThis post contains affiliate links. I was compensated for my work in writing this post.

We did our own historic tour of Spokane, where we walked around downtown Spokane, identifying old buildings and structures that were over a century old. We did some brief research before heading downtown, and I mention a few brief facts about each place.

We are studying modern history, and one of the field trips listed in All American History, Volume II is to take a historic tour of your city, so that you can visualize what life was like back at the turn of the century, or even before!

Historic Tour of Spokane (Video Tour)

Join us as we explore the historical places in Spokane:

List of Historic Sites in Downtown Spokane

These were our stops during our historic tour of Spokane, Washington. If you would like more information on each place, click the links to read more about each location:

  • Riverfront Park Clock Tower: built in 1973 for the World Expo ’74. This article shows you the inside of the clock tower.
  • Looff Carousel: built in 1909, this elaborate antique carousel was built by a man named Looff. He built it to delight his daughter.
  • Suspension Bridge: built so that pioneers could cross over the river. Beautiful view of the Spokane River and waterfalls.
  • The Spokesman Review: the daily newspaper for Spokane. In 1890 there were two newspapers, The Spokesman and The Review, and they combined into one newspaper.
  • Old Post Office: over a century old, this is the oldest post office in Spokane. It has marble floors, gorgeous pillars, and ornate architectural decorations inside.
  • Statue of Lincoln: bronze sculpture of Abraham Lincoln, built in 1930.
  • Steam Plant: burned coal to boil water to create steam which would be pumped through pipes under the city streets and up through the radiators to heat most of the downtown buildings for over 70 years, beginning around the turn of the century.
  • Davenport Hotel: built in 1914, the most luxurious hotel in Spokane. Has housed Houdini, Charles Lindberg, and many Presidents of the United States. Beautifully ornate interior.


I hope you enjoyed our fun whirlwind historic tour of Spokane!

Civil War Hands-on Activities

Monday, July 20th, 2015


This post contains affiliate links. I was compensated for my work in writing this post.

We experienced Civil War in the graveyard by doing several hands-on activities, including searching for a gravestone of someone who lived during the time of the Civil War, doing a crayon rubbing of the gravestone, and reciting the Gettysburg Address. We are using All American History, Volume II this year for our American History studies, and searching for a headstone from the time of the Civil War was one activity mentioned in the book.

civil-war-in-the-graveyard-2It was a sunny day in the autumn, and we were scattered around the graveyard, trying to find the oldest gravestones. I told my kids to look for actual headstones instead of the modern grave markers that were flat to the ground. Soon we found a gravestone of a man who lived during the time period of the Civil War.


I had someone hold the butcher paper while doing the crayon rubbing. We used dark-colored oil pastels, with the crayon on its side. Take a look at how we did this activity:

After finishing the crayon rubbing, one of my sons recited the Gettysburg Address while dressed up as Abraham Lincoln. You need a black top hat and a brown beard. You should also wear a suit and tie. The Gettysburg Address was delivered at a cemetery, making this activity appropriate for the graveyard.

abraham-lincoln-graveyardWe had a great time doing these fun activities to re-enforce the Civil War time period!