One of the books we're reading, which I've mentioned before, is The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History by Jennifer Armstrong. I have rather mixed feelings about it.
I like it. I like the drawings. I like the stories it chooses to tell. They are definitely multi-cultural, telling the stories of the Indians and the Jews and the Africans, etc. I'm not far enough into it to see how fairly they represent Christians, if at all. Seems like every group gets its day except for the Christians.
It is also a bit of a difficult read for the younger set. I've found myself really having to explain what is going on in my own words to the girls. Daisy "gets" more than Pepper does. If it was just Pepper, a first grader, I don't know that I would choose this book.
They've chosen an eclectic bunch of stories--some very well known, like the Pilgrims, Pocahontas, Paul Revere's Ride, Benjamin Franklin flying his kite--things I would consider the essentials for an early elementary American history survey. But they've also included some lesser-known stories, which I like, such as People of the Longhouse, the city of St. Augustine, the Manhattan real estate deal, the planning of the capital, etc.
I think I'm beginning to contradict myself. Anyway, I like it.
So today we read "A Manhattan Real Estate Deal" and "Keeping Watch, Keeping the Faith." The first story was about the Dutch buying the island of Manhattan from the Indians. We had a good discussion comparing it to someone coming to our house and offering Daisy $10 to buy her bedroom. Daisy takes the $10 and the bedroom belongs to the newcomer. Only, then RoseBud gets off the bus and finds a stranger living in her room! She didn't agree to this deal, she got nothing from this deal and so she chooses to ignore the deal, sleeping in her bed as usual. Of course, the newcomer is not happy that she refuses to vacate his new room and quarrels ensue (probably a few arrows and bullets exchanged). Daisy meantime is happily living across the hall with Banana Boy and her $10.
"Keeping Watch, Keeping the Faith" was a story I knew little about. Peter Stuyvesant, the new governor of New Netherlands (aka Manhattan Island) was all alarmed to find a boatload of Jews moving in. He refused to grant them citizenship or the rights of citizens, including the right to stand watch at night. Instead, he "allowed" them to pay a Dutch citizen to take over their watch. All fine and good if you had the money, but what if you were poor? Asser Levy was one such poor man who could not afford to pay to have his watch covered. He would joyfully stand the watch--he had lots of time! But PS would not allow it. Eventually, Levy persevered and just stood the watch anyway, gaining the right of citizenship for the Jews in New Netherlands.
The very fun part of this was that I also had at home a library book called, The Day Peter Stuyvesant Sailed into Town. It went along perfectly with this story and was a charming rhyming picture book about cranky Peter Stuyvesant (who had a peg leg!) and how he whipped New Amsterdam into shape and made it a successful colony. Written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel (author of Frog and Toad books--love those!) The illustrations were funny--my kids love clever illustrations. For example, on the last page, they show PS sleeping in his bed with his boot next to the bed. (As Pepper said, "His ONE boot!")
In other recent school developments, we did art one day!
We are still in Secondary Colors and the project was to make a picture which radiated out from the center. Here is what the girls came up with (mine just looked dumb. I hate art)
Daisy's is on the left and Pepper's on the right. And that's my toe at the very bottom of the picture...
Left to their own devices, the girls also come up with their own art projects. Lately, they've been cutting up paper plates and decorating them. Banana Boy got in on the activity, too. His is the white one.
And this is Banana Boy's latest artistic endeavor. I think it looks like a monkey, but he assures me it's a person. It has a pet on a leash in its right hand and what I thought was a ball in the other. But it's an Easter Egg basket.