Sunday, August 25, 2013

Must Read Linky - Graphic Biographies

Our unit on the Native Americans is winding down and those shelter projects are starting to flood in, but my brain is already turning to the next unit.


This is such a fun topic to teach because I get to tell the kids how totally off the wall the explorers were. How frightfully wrong, and completely clueless they actually were. It makes my students laugh, but then realize that every great idea has to start somewhere.

We usually begin with the guy who started it all, Marco Polo. His journeys and tell-all book created the frenzy that was exploration. Without him, North American would be completely different today. Yes, there were already tons of people living here and the Ancient Siberians and even the Vikings had already stepped foot on the wild lands before this Italian ever was a thought in history. But it was Columbus that brought it to the attention of Europe and the race was on.

A huge part of me wishes that the Europeans had dealt with the native inhabitants of this new land in a much more diplomatic way. So many of the hurts of the young nation would have been healed before they even began, but I digress from my topic.

I am linking  up with those Collaboration Cuties for their Social Studies lesson idea post. Head on over and see a great book that I also just bought to use during my Native American Unit. If you Lived with the Hopi is a perfect resource to help you answer those tons of questions students will ask about this tribe living in the dry lands of Arizona. Check it out!

My choice of books is moving beyond the Native Americans and turning towards those explorers that had a desire to learn more about their planet. Christopher Columbus is so well known, but so much of his journey is shrouded in the past. My kids are shocked to learn that he it took six years to convince King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain to fund his expedition. They also find it so intriguing that his crew wanted to throw him overboard and  head back home shortly before they sighted land.

My fourth graders, especially the boys, are in love with graphic novels. I am constantly seeing them check out Star Wars, Hardy Boys, and Baby Sitters club done up in this style. Even the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Tales of a Not-so are graphic novels of a sort. So, why not bring in some dealing with our history topics?

This is one of a series of books that cover the history of our nation. I love them because they have other titles that match our Fourth Grade curriculum perfectly - History of Jamestown, the Boston Tea Party, Sutter's Mill, etc. What's great about them is they don't sugarcoat anything. Kids can see that a lot of greed, ambition, and selfishness tied into exploration. Plus they definitely don't overly romanticize the first meeting between Europeans and natives of the Americas.

I am trying to get our librarian to order the set, or even get some money to buy six copies of some of them to store in our book room teachers use for small groups. We shall see!

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