This Month's Featured Resources...

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Tuesday, April 12

Mr. President (Randy Newman)

As promised, we're bringing some freebies to everyone who drops by today, but the big surprise is our HUGE GIVEAWAY, compliments of Dover Publishing.  One reader is going to receive all of the presidential materials reviewed in this post!!!  (That is everything except the We Were There series.)

First things wouldn't be a party without...

Freebie Goody Bags!

Dover Publications has the most amazing hands-on resources that are perfect supplemental materials for your homeschool.  We use them all the time, and recently had a chance to review their Presidential Series of books in preparation for the upcoming elections.  If you're like us, you tailor some of your school to current this is a big year for teaching civics!   

So what did we think of these resources?  Well, we were pretty impressed.  And honestly, I was surprised at what their favorites tended to wasn't expected!

Tell me....what book do you think your family would like the most??

American Presidents Sticker Book
This sticker gallery features every U.S. president, from the Founding Fathers to the Chief Executives of the twenty-first century. Forty-four images come with frames that include names and dates in office. Match each portrait with the appropriate frame and get acquainted with these important figures of American history. 

This is a great book for younger learners.  It is just stickers and frames, no information, but it helps them to put the presidents in chronological order and get a feel for when each man was the leader.  The portraits are actually caricatures, but that’s my only poke.  It’s hands-on, and my kinesthetic learner did very well with it.
Won't you help George Washington find his false teeth? And guide Barack Obama to his lost basketball? Perhaps you'd like to seek out Van Buren's bag of gold, discover Harding's teapot, and locate Taft's gavel? More than 30 mazes, search-and-find puzzles, and spot-the-differences activities feature playful illustrations and intriguing tidbits about our nation's leaders, from their nicknames and birthdays to their hobbies and pets.

This was a fun activity book!  There are various search and finds, including this one about a party during the Johnson administration.  One of the things that I liked the most about this one was that it launched a discussion of anachronisms (objects that are out of time).  Then, we had to go back through several of the other pages and find even more anachronisms!
America's First Ladies Coloring Book
They're the women who helped shape America — presidential wives, daughters, and other female relatives, who served as official hostesses in the White House and often acted as advisers to the President. These 44 ready-to-color drawings depict them in authentic settings in Washington and around the globe. Included are Martha Custis Washington, Mary Todd Lincoln, Mamie Eisenhower, Jacqueline Kennedy, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, Michelle Obama, and others.

As we went through these books, we stuck with Andrew Johnson and his family, because that is what we happened to be studying at the time that we received our goody package.  While we complete the books, we chose to focus our review solely on his family for the sake of continuity.  This coloring book, like the Presidents coloring book below, has a paragraph of information about each lady.  Those are educational and informative, but what we really enjoyed was watching the fashions change through the centuries…particularly in the 20th century!
Pat Nixon was the first First Lady to wear pants in public, Frances Cleveland was the youngest First Lady, and Jackie Kennedy won an Emmy! Loaded with fascinating facts about all of the presidents' wives, this book features 46 amusing caricatures to color, plus educational and entertaining captions. Suitable for ages 8 and up.

The portraits in this book are fun to color, and the information below each was inspiring and, at times, amazing.  After all, who knew that Andrew Johnson’s daughter kept cows on the lawn?  And she milked them for the White House’s supply of milk and cheese!

The History of the White House Coloring Book
This in-depth White House tour ventures through history, from the building's inception to the present. Thirty images depict the selection of the site, the impact of the War of 1812, the first Oval Office, the addition of the porticos, Michelle Obama's vegetable garden, and other scenes from the building's history. Captions offer detailed commentary. 

This book was full of surprising facts!  (And some that we could use again today….)  For example, did you know that President Wilson used sheep to mow the lawn, and then used their wool to help the Red Cross?  What resourcefulness!  The kids were fascinated, through many of the different books, with the ingenuity and resourcefulness demonstrated by past administrations.  At the risk of stepping on political toes – all parties – perhaps our current leaders should be provided with copies of these ‘primers.’  J
American Presidents Coloring Book
From George Washington to Barack Obama, this fact-filled coloring book chronicles the history of all 44 US Presidents. Each Chief Executive is depicted in an image drawn from real life, and most portraits feature backgrounds that reflect significant events from the president's administration. Every illustration includes a detailed caption, making this book a practical reference as well as a source of coloring fun.

Regardless of your personal political affiliation, this is a great reference book for teaching children about the presidents.  It’s interesting to see what facts they pull out to represent each of them!  In the case of Johnson, I didn’t know that he was the first president to have impeachment charges brought against him.  Johnson’s information, however, centers mostly on Reconstructionism after the Civil War.

**Standups! Presidents**
Every day is President's Day with these charming 5-inch-high figures of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and six other Chief Executives. The easy-to-make punch-out models come with simple assembly instructions that will have them standing proud in no time. Figures include Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, and Barack Obama.

Surprise!  This truly was the hands-down favorite of all these resources.  It’s a funny little book, with punch out presidents that are astoundingly caricatured versions of the men.  It’s not sturdy like cardboard, but did not rip as we punched them out and put them together.  And it provided hours (and I do mean hours!) of entertainment for the kids!  The presidents made movies – like the one below.  The presidents boxed each other, a la Rock’em Sock’em.  They challenged each other, based on their accomplishments in the White House.  It was fabulous!  The boys learned so much in an effort to best each other!
The White House Cut & Assemble
Follow these complete, simple instructions and clear diagrams to create an expertly designed, beautifully crafted, authentically detailed model of the White House. On a 1-to-10 scale of difficulty in which 10 represents the hardest level, this easy but elaborate model rates as a 2. It's printed in full color on heavy stock at N scale.  Appropriate for ages 10 and up, this model appeals to hobbyists of all ages and makes a great family activity. The complete model measures 9 3/4 W x 8 1/2 D x 4 1/2 H.

I expected this to be the favorite activity out of all of the books, but it was a little bit too hard for the kids.  We’ve used the punch out assembly books before, and they work pretty well.  However, having to actually cut the pieces out added a new level of frustration that they weren’t prepared for.  I helped them to cut it out and assemble it.   This is a neat book!  But I would definitely recommend it for older children.  It would be a great activity during a read aloud.
See our silly Standups movie!!

One of our other favorite products from Dover is the We Were There book series.  This is a vintage series that Dover has begun to re-release.  Each book tells a story from the vantage point of teenage children experiencing historical events.  They span the eras from Caesar's Legions to the Battle of Lexington and Concord to the Battle of the Bulge...and everything in between.  The children beg to read them (we read aloud together as a family) because they are so easy to get into.  Our versions are the original hardcovers, but you can get the following newly released versions from Dover :

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