Once in a while a gem of a resource comes from an unexpected place. You may be familiar with Marshall Publishing's trademark line of "As Seen on TV" videos featuring modes of transportation, such as "LOTS and LOTS of Trains" or "LOTS and LOTS of Jet Planes," but you may not be aware that they also sell an interesting and educational line of historical videos, too.
The video we received from Marshall Publishing was the one about America in the 1800s. It included five "chapters" plus a bonus track about Alexander Graham Bell. Since we are studying United States history this year, we have been trying to build up our library of resources to support that curriculum and I am glad we were able to add this title to our collection.
From the beginning, the video was intriguing since it plays just like an old film reel. Using old photographs, drawings, and historical reenactments, these informative videos will expose your students (and you!) to many interesting facts and important events of the time period covered. I was introduced to several characters I missed in my public school education, and the situations behind and political impact of familiar events was made clearer to me so that I can more effectively teach about the period when the time comes.
Here is what the company has to say about their product:
"Just like a time machine, we transport you back to discover the people and events that shaped this exciting decade: the Brooklyn Bridge ...Washington Monument ...Statue of Liberty ...Gunfight at the O.K. Corral ...Oklahoma Land Rush ...Johnstown Flood ...Thomas Edison ...Mark Twain ...Baby Doe ...Sitting Bull ...Sarah Bernhardt ...John Philip Sousa ...Buffalo Bill ...Gilbert and Sullivan ...Wyatt Earp...Jesse James and Billy the Kid ....Alexander Graham Bell ....John D. Rockefeller ....Andrew Carnegie ....Samuel Gompers ....Susan B. Anthony ....Lillian Russell ....and many more!
You will learn about fashion, politics, sports heroes, famous inventors, Wall Street financiers, railroad expansion, buffalo extinction, Indian resettlement, Civil Rights, union organization, urbanization, the music of the times, and much, much more!
Through the use of live re-enactments, rare historical photographs and drawings, and award-winning photography you will be amazed, amused, entertained and educated about many little known facts and some life changing events that have become part of the foundation of our society today."
For the purposes of our way of studying (using living books to supplement much of our curriculum, or as the majority of our curriculum), this video is a fantastic way to introduce and interest your children in specific events. The video we previewed mentioned quite a few characters from history that my kids were quite interested in learning more about. We found books on our shelves about Buffalo Bill and Wyatt Earp, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mark Twain, John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, and John Phillip Sousa.
The video also introduced many and the firsts that took place during the time period, such as The American Red Cross, Eastman Kodak Cameras, moving pictures, football, baseball, and golf, the phonograph and electric lightbulb. It highlights the importance of the railroads and canals, shows photos and film of the period's architecture and clothing, as well as discussing the period's morals and modesty.
While I did feel that there was a certain bias to some of the information, such as when the narrator somewhat disparagingly spoke of the limitations of the one room schoolhouse and who got to attend them (the information of which may have all been true) instead of pointing out that while the literacy rate of the era may have been low by reason of necessity (children were needed at home to help support family enterprises and opportunities to pursue schooling were often limited), those who obtained schooling did so with an positive attitude that is often lacking today (at least in my opinion), I felt that the information was of very high quality and useful to any family, especially homeschooling ones. I will also say that they also did not edit out any religious reference in the film clips, so there were quite a few in the Alexander Graham Bell segment.
I find that the videos are an excellent way to both introduce these fascinating individuals and to wrap all of these fascinating characters up together in a visual and auditory way. I really enjoyed seeing the films representing the time period, and the narration of events helped tie everything together and made me much more interested in studying an often neglected, but important era (as we tend to focus on single events of particular interest and familiarity to ourselves or our children). Of course, now we have to wait until we reach that time period in our studies to do more than a cursory study of any of these characters, but the kids are getting excited about all the fun we are going to have learning about history this year.
BUT WAIT, there's more! If America in the 1800s isn't for you, there is a whole host of other videos also filmed by expert photographers on other American topics such as the Oregon Train, the Pony Express, Lewis and Clark, Forts, Gettysburg, the Mississippi River, and American Railroads.
There are even more educational titles to supplement your
curriculum at the Marshall Publishing site.
I am sure that we will be saving money in our budget to purchase a few more of these titles as we get closer to each of their topics in our studies. I find that they are a fascinating and useful way to get not only my students, but myself, interested in learning more about history. If you are looking for some way to get your kids excited about a historical period, whether they are auditory or visual learners, or even your kinesthetic learners (as my boys were highly interested in going out and building things, playing baseball, and doing experiments once they watched different segments). The are available now on the Marshall Publishing website for just $19.95 each. That's a great deal for a valuable resource.
In fact, I intend to use the segment on Alexander Graham Bell today as we begin our ASL studies in our new homeschool co-op. It was a fascinating movie clip. I am definitely inspired to learn more...though as we know Thomas Alva Edison said, "Success is ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration." You may find that this series of films provides the ten percent of inspiration that your students need to apply themselves to perspire in their studies!
To read more reviews about the video we previewed, America in the 1800s and others by Marshall Publishing, check out more reviews by other members of The Schoolhouse Review Crew by clicking on the icon below.