This Year’s Summer Project

8 Jun

It’s that time again. That long 3 months of brain numbing, nothing to do, I’m bored time of year is here. Research shows that children spend most of the beginning of each school year reviewing skills learned from the previous year. Your brain is a muscle, and like the muscles in your arms and legs and the rest of your body, that muscle can atrophy. You’ve got to use it or lose it.

Each summer we try to do something with American history. Most public schools are seriously lacking in this area, instead focusing on “Social Studies”. Last year we studied the Preamble.

This year we are going to focus on the Declaration of Independence.

We started with watching 1776 (the 1972 musical directed by Peter Hunt and starring William Daniels, Howard Da Silva, Ken Howard, Donald Madden, and John Cullum). “C” enjoyed watching it. He laughed at all the silly things that people of all ages and throughout time do. The musical part of it kind of bored him. But he’s a 12 year old boy and not much into musicals. This is also, however, good exposure to different types of media.

Using the movie, we were able to:

  • discuss the structure of the states and how each state interacted with the other
  • analyze the relationship of the states with England
  • debate the merits of staying loyal to England or separating from England to become free states
  • define the difference between traitors and patriots
  • discuss the main focus of the Continental Congress in retaining separate state sovereignty versus unifying under one centralized government and how they compromised to create the “United States”
  • discuss the slavery issue that was already dividing the states before the conception of our new country.


He’s now reading through the Declaration using a dictionary to help translate any difficult words. Afterward we can go through it and discuss again.

There is a whole host of projects that can center around this theme. We may look into the types of food that was available, why someone was absent for a vote because he had to leave the building to use the bathroom, the clothing that was worn in the hot summer months, study the grammar of the Declaration, write our own Declaration of Independence focusing on either family rules or current events.

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