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Update on Free History DVD, Shy Kids in Public

By Heather Idoni

Added Thursday, May 06, 2010
Vol. 11 No. 25, May 6, 2010, ISSN: 1536-2035
© 2010, Heather Idoni - www.FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to The Homeschooler's Notebook!

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Notes from Heather
-- Michigan & Iowa News
Winning Website
-- Chandra X-Ray Telescope
Resource Review
-- Update on the Free DVD
Reader Question
-- Shy Children in Public?
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Michigan and Iowa Convention News


My son, Carman, and I will be hitting the road again soon!

We will be at the INCH Convention in Lansing, Michigan on May
14th & 15th with 1,000 Sugar Creek Gang CD sets to give away.

Then we are headed to NICHE in Des Moines, Iowa June 18-19 to
give out another 1,000!

We're also bringing hundreds of award-winning 1/2 price new books,
hard-to-find used books and our wonderful audio books.

Please make plans to stop by and visit us at Beloved Books if
you have plans to attend!  :-)

-- Heather


Do you have comments to share?  Please do!

Send to: mailto:heather@familyclassroom.net


For 2 more days only (May 6th, & 7th), NotebookingPages.com
is celebrating its 4th year in business with a huge 50% off Birthday
Sale-a-Bration! If you've been waiting for our biggest deal of the

year, this is it! Time to stock up!

Use discount code = 4birthday during checkout to receive 50% off
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But that's not all! We have a Bonus E-Gift Package worth over $60!
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Winning Website


The Extraordinary Universe with Chandra

In Florence, Italy, in the year 1609, the world changed. Using a small
telescope, Galileo proved that the Earth is not distinct from the universe,
but part of it. And he showed that there is much more to the universe than
we see with the naked eye.

In ten years of operation, the Chandra X-ray Observatory has transformed
our view of the high-energy universe with its ability to make exquisite
X-ray images of star clusters, supernova remnants, galactic eruptions,
and collisions between clusters of galaxies.

Explore the Universe with Chandra!



Do you have a website, tip, idea or experience to share with our readers?

Send to: mailto:HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Resource Review

[In our Monday issue I passed along an offer for a free American history DVD
offer.  One of our readers wrote in with words of caution from her father
who had viewed the first installment of the show.  I am sharing her email here
so that our readers can be fully informed as to the pros and cons before using this
resource with our children. -- Heather]

History Channel Free DVD - America, A Hisory of Us

A Reader Review


"The Truth is a reward for diligent and cautious thinkers – it is not a piece
of candy picked up by anyone who eavesdrops on life.  This DVD is a perfect

Many of the homeschool groups that I’m on have been promoting this DVD because
it’s free and sounds great because, hey, it’s from the History Channel so it
must be fabulous, right?  Well, I happen to love the History and History
International channels but I have come to watch them with a wary mind.  While
they do provide a plethora of history-based shows our family views them more
as documentary-styled entertainment that pure historical fact.  Their shows
often leave out pertinent information, include irrelevant information, and
sometimes even misinform by the placement of some of their facts relative to
others.  Our opinion is that these channels can be very enjoyable to watch and
can be informative when balanced as a supplementary source on a subject rather
than an only source.  However, we they also can be irritating to viewers who
really know a subject and can spot all the errors.  If nothing else, it is an
educational experience for a person to see how every topic can be viewed and
represented differently and so one opinion, show, or text should never be taken
as absolute truth – a good lesson for our homeschoolers to learn.

I ordered my DVD a few weeks ago because I thought it would be a good free
addition to my inventory of stuff.  Besides, I'd heard that the series was
slated to become heavily used in the schools and I welcome opportunities to
keep my finger on the pulse of what's being taught in the schools.

Because I'd already ordered it, I wasn’t too worried that I missed it due to
a conflict.  So, I’m really glad my dad did and called me to give his opinion.
I just thought I’d post some comments that my dad called me specifically to
make about this series.

My dad was a history major in college, specifically American history, and taught
middle school history (in the public school system) for 30 years.  He reads
history books - everything from documentaries to texts to coffee table books to
periodicals to well-researched historical novels to letters - for light reading.
He knows a thing or two about our country's history so he's got a little
credibility.  He was somewhat sickened by the first installment of America, The
Story of US.

First of all, completely aside from the facts (or lack thereof), he said there
were so many special effects that he did not enjoy the show.  Granted, he's 80
and not of the current hi-tech generation.  Not having seen it, I don't know if
he's over-reacting or not.  I do know that he dislikes the fast-slow-fast-slow
action switching that is a common effect used today.  I don't really either
except in certain shows like The Matrix that are supposed to be sort of surreal.
And he said they did a lot of that.

Aside from the cinematic gimmicks, my dad still was extremely disappointed for
various reasons.

1. First of all, he could have done without President Obama introducing the show
as if it were his big idea and interjecting his wisdom periodically.

2. Practically the first thing said in the show, during Obama's introduction,
was him stating that we conquered the greatest (or was it one of?) military
powers in the world when we conquered Britain.  Dad doesn't like misstatements
and this was not a good start to a history show.  It's very misleading.  We
prevailed over what Britain sent at us and were given our independence after
Britain decided not to bother with us any more - we didn't conquer Britain at
all.  President Obama apparently doesn't know the definition of the word, but to
spread the blame around, apparently neither do any of the producers of the show.

3. Dad said that the show not only glossed over the history but did it poorly.
Now, given the time allotted, you'd expect that they can't provide a lot of
detail.  But my dad thought that given the smaller details that they chose to
include by comparison, it was inexcusable that they left out major details,
events, and figures.

4. Dad thought that the show was politically correct and must have been produced
to promote a liberal agenda.  For instance, he was disgusted to hear them talking
about some guy (I forget his name) who helped Washington train his troops.  The
guy was from Haiti.  It doesn't really matter that this is mentioned or not, but
they just had to make a point of discussing how great he was even though he
might have been gay!

When I told him that the series is being made available for free to schools to
encourage its being included in curriculum, he was livid.  His overall impression
was that the show is filled with inaccuracies, so devoid of important information
as to be irrelevant, and had too much political correctness for his personal liking,
let alone for something that would be used in schools rather than at a parent's

So, get the DVD if you wish.  Heck, I did.  But watch it first and only share with
your kids what supports your own teaching.  And accept that even what you do show
your kids should probably be viewed more as history-based entertainment than strong
history and that you'll need to do a LOT of filling in to provide a complete,
accurate understanding of our history.  I asked my dad to rate the show, even
allowing for its brevity, as an overview for the time period covered.  He said
pretty bad.  Disappointing.  Misleading due to it's inaccuracies and not just how
much they didn't cover but more by their choices of what they omitted and what
they included.  His recommendation to me was watch it, use pieces frugally if I
really wanted to, but that it wasn't worth it and I ought to just disregard it
in my teaching.

So there you have it.  A history buff's and public school history teacher's review.
I hope this is helpful."

-- Kaitlyn

Last Issue's Reader Question

"My husband and I home school our two oldest kids, ages 7 and 5. Our kids
are very social, talk a lot and do a lot of role plays in the house.  They
are friendly with their neighbors and those they know.  But when they go
somewhere, especially if the place is crowded with many strange faces, they
feel so shy to say a word.  I mean, just ONE word!

How can we get them to speak without forcing them?  What kind of public
speaking skills materials do you suggest we use for them?  Skills that are
attractive and child-friendly will greatly be appreciated." -- Maryam

Our Readers' Responses

"Hi Maryam -- When  I was young, I was taught not to speak with strangers -- so
I didn't... even if my parent was nearby.  Having a 7 & 5 yr old who are wary of
strangers is not a bad thing; it just needs to be tempered with experience and

We now homeschool our youngest (11 year old).  We joined a support group when he
was in K/1st grade.  We organized a Science Fair that year to give our children
a venue to do some public speaking in a friendly atmosphere.  We have added to the
public speaking opportunity to include an annual Biography Fair, Cultural Fair,
Recitation Day, and an Art & Music Fair (including a Talent Show).

The students can present alone or with a partner.  We have seen our children grow
in confidence with these annual opportunities.

We have also offered a DVD-based public speaking class called 'Beginner Public
Speaking' by Communicators for Christ.  Our son has taken this course 3 times and
improved his skills with each repetition; others have commented on these skills
they are noting in our young students.

Check their website -- they do offer workshops and conferences in different areas
of the country." -- Tricia


"I think this is just a developmental issue that will straighten itself out on its
own. With that said, why don't you allow the kids to have an end-of-the-school-year
party where they can display and show everyone the work and projects they have done?
Invite the people they know and are comfortable with so there is no stress.  Prepare
in advance a simple presentation they can say to the group about their favorite
project or field trip and have FUN!
Maybe next year they can have a mid-year science fair or art fair.  Invite the same
people they are comfortable with and maybe a couple of people they don't know as
well. This time, have them prepared to answer simple questions from the visitors
about their project.  Every so often you can build on this idea and the variety
of people you invite." -- Chris


"My kids are both reserved and quiet.  I have found 4H to be very helpful in
encouraging them to speak to others (adults and kids) and in front large groups. 
They have to give talks or demostrations to their club and are encouraged to
present at the county and higher level."  - Lori


"My kids are 8 and 9 and we went through several years where they would just as
soon pass up the treat at the grocery store as ask the lady behind the counter.
Eventually the treat won out and now they'll chat to check-out ladies, ask for
their own bag, and make their own purchases.  I'm not saying they're as outgoing
in public as they are at home, but at least now they're functional and if they
need something, they'll ask for it... well, at least most of the time!  It just
takes lots of practice and me providing them with loads of opportunites.  With my
younger child, it took role playing before, during, and even sometimes afterward.
Eventually she remembered what to say and how to say it.

Also, one of the things my son needed was some social time away from me.  We chose
Scouts, so he has had to speak up if he wants something or do without.  He has
really taken on a leadership role with the smaller children and this has helped
his self-confidence (and volume!)." -- Liz in BC


"I have three out of four children just like that, and would probably say I was
like that as well.  Try and let them feel as comfortable in the situation as they
can and support them as much as possible.  Never force them or make them feel as
if their shyness in public is wrong.  As they grow older they will develop better
communication skills and be more confident in various situations.  Your children
are still very young and developing skills.  What they have/or don’t have now will
not be who they are in the future." -- Beth

Answer our NEW Question

"I am looking for a good 6th grade science curriculum.  Since we are
limited on supplies/equipment, I would prefer something without a lot
of 'bells and whistles'.  Thanks for your help!" -- Jo W.


Would you like to suggest something for Jo to use for science?

Please send your email to: mailto:HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

Ask YOUR Question

Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

Send it to mailto:HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
if we can help you out in a future issue!

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Next - Learning On Their Own, Piggy Bank Adventure, Kindergarten Stories
Previous - Free History DVD, Plane Math, Grammar/Spelling

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