Sunday, May 15, 2011

Memorial Day

So once upon a time Memorial Day in the US (Celebrated the last Monday in May) was called Decoration Day. It began after the Civil war to honor people in the military who died fighting for their cause. History reports state that the event was started by freed slaves who found Union soldiers buried in mass graves, and re-interred them into individual graves, then put an arch over the grave yard. Such an action at the time was very daring and had to have a level of difficulty that is near unimaginable in this day and age.

On May 30, 1868 the former slaves were reported to return to place flowers on each grave, honoring the Union soldiers and the sacrifice they made. Flowers laid, there was a grand celebration in their honor with parades, picnics and patriotic song. And with that a new holiday was born.

The official place of Memorial days beginning was in Waterloo New York, called Decoration Day the celebration grew year after year until in 1882 it was changed to “Memorial Day” and included the honor of men and women who died for our country in other wars preceding the Civil War.

After World War Two it became a national holiday with the passing of a federal law.

This holiday is very dear and important for our remembrance of the sacrifices that gave freedom to our nation. This is a great time to have your students report on heroes and heroines in history who fought and made sacrifices for our present freedoms.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Escaping the indoors, Migration and Immigration

Are you tired of the rain yet?

I am too.

But it's a great time of year to get out and explore nature with the kids (providing it's not rainy.) Mark those plants you've been watching grow and talk about how the birds are coming back – migrating. There are wonderful lessons to be taught about migratory animals and when you've covered that, how about Immigration and the history of how America was settled.

Topics easily covered -
Reasons people immigrated.
Angel Island
Why people changed their names.
How did they immigrate?
Ellis Island
Why did/do Immigrants come here?
How do you become a citizen?
What challenges do Immigrants face?
Finding Religious Freedom.
Illegal Immigration
Who were the first Immigrants in North America?

This all can leave you with many hours of lessons about migration, both animal and human and it becomes more than a history, citizenship, or science lesson alone but also allows for a greater spectrum of schooling and a bit of analytical thought thrown in for good measure. If it's not enough for you however you can cover the mathematics of it as well... how many people immigrated per day through Angel Island and Ellis Island a month, week and day, and what percentage came from which continent and country.