4/30/15

Early American History-Immigration and Industrilazation

This month our history studies have focused on immigration and industry in America. As we have wrapped up our stories and readings from Civil War era history, we have begun to explore the late 1800's and early 1900's. This was an exciting time for our continent. So many new industries meant new opportunities for hopeful immigrants.


The thing that I have most looked forward to in our year of history co-op, has been this month's meeting. At the beginning of the year, when we mapped out the plan for our co-op, I knew this would be a fun day for our children. Instead of the usual program of singing, geography and art projects, our children would have the opportunity to open up a real store as well as explore their diverse ancestry.



The plan was simple. Each family would pick one of their ancestors to study, and prepare a presentation based on that ancestor's country and history. They would also bring products which related in some way to their ancestry to sell for a small amount, in this way representing the small businesses and farming endeavors which these people undertook in order to provide for their families. 
We did this same project over four years ago, in the last community that we lived in, and at that time, we chose Portugal which represents my husband's grandmother. For Portugal, we sold veggies from our garden, and homemade sweet rolls. This time, we chose England, which is where my grandmother's parents came from. 

We started our country fair by having each family stand at their "store" and share their presentation. One of the best parts of preparing an ancestor presentation is the opportunity to learn about our family history. I listened intently as my son shared the interesting information that we had compiled after interviewing my grandmother. For instance, I had never heard that my great grandfather was the son of an English strawberry farmer near Kent. Nor, that his brave fiancé, after waiting three years for him to send for her, took matters into her own hands, and headed to Canada. She wanted to give him the opportunity to make good on his commitment to marry her.

They did marry, and had six beautiful children, one of whom was my own dear grandmother.

We celebrated our heritage today at our country fair by cutting up an old sheet to make "Nearly Proper English Hankies" which we sold for twenty-five cents, along with fresh homemade scones and tea.


The children listened eagerly to their friend's presentations as well. They heard reports from several European countries, as well as one from our darling little friend, who was welcomed here eight years ago by her lovely parents, becoming a first generation Chinese-American.


After the children took turns giving their presentations, the stores were open for business! My kids were excited for the opportunity to make a meager profit, one of the benefits of not offering allowance. 


They were also excited to spend their money at their friends' stores. The goods for sale were exciting! Hawaiian soap, Scottish shortbread, and Chinese fans were big hits with my kids as they eagerly divested themselves of their small change. I did end up raiding my husbands coin stash a few times, to replenish their coffers, it didn't occur to me to teach them a real lesson on economy when they, and their friends were so hopeful of selling their products.

Although this day was simple to prepare for; we merely did a little crafting, cooking and report writing in the few days preceding the event, it had a big impact on the children. Now they can have a small glimpse into the process of creating products and marketing them, and a taste of what some of their ancestors experienced as they crossed the sea in search of opportunity.







10 comments:

  1. That is the coolest thing! I love this idea. Your nearly proper english hankies are adorable. I want one! Great job.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Natalie! It was such a fun day.

      Delete
  2. Wow! What a fabulous idea! How cool that they got to know their great-grandmother better. Have you heard of the StoryCorps app? It's designed to help people interview each other and save the oral histories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That app sounds really interesting, I will definitely look it up!

      Delete
  3. So cool! What a fun way to learn about your ancestry!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I LOVE this!!! What a fantastic idea for a school lesson and I love that it teaches them so many skills (economics, science through cooking, history, research, speaking, etc) all in one activity. Plus it looks like so much fun! I've always been a fan of genealogy and this is a great way to introduce kids to that hobby. So many awesome things about this project. Stuff like this is why homeschooling has long appealed to me and one of the reasons we're switching to it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, I hadn't actually thought about all the skills that my children learned through this! Thanks so much for the insight.

      Delete
  5. I will no doubt plan this next year! Thank you for the way you encourage by your example. Sincerely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Wendy, what a sweet word of encouragement.

      Delete