Posts Tagged ‘WWII’

Homeschooling is More than Workbooks at the Kitchen Table

March 5, 2017

When we were diligently studying WWII in American history in our homeschool, I assigned the kids the project of making a game. Foolishly I assumed they would come up with some sort of board game with the Axis and Allies picking sides and battling it out with cards, or dice or Popsicle sticks to dominate the world. I should have known better with MY children.

When I give my students active assignments such as this there is always a laundry list of requirements for their “class” presentation. Just like real school. This particular list included, but was not limited to: make a game that 4-6 people can play, design a game board, include historical information, wear an applicable costume when presenting, have props for the players and make it fun!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

(To my dismay, I did not take a picture of Austin wearing his costume… but this shows what he looked like at that time… thrilled to be giving a report!)

To say I was surprised when my son walked in dressed like Hitler is an understatement. He had absconded the master closet with a tan Royal Rangers shirt of his father’s. He designed a swastika arm band, found a skinny tan tie, and made gold medals for the getup. His blonde hair was slicked over and he had a felt mustache in miniature taped to his upper lip. Scarily, he did resemble the German fascist.

For props we all wore similar black felt mustaches and hand drawn arm bands. The game board was pretty straight forward with six columns leading to the top where he had boldly scribed, “Who Wants to Be Hitler?” … sort of like Jeopardy. At this stage I was falsely assuming that my son was glorifying a mad man and I was simply waiting for the moment to stop the game.

To my surprise (and relief), as we rolled the dice to move up the board, we had to answer detailed questions about the Jews, Germany, death camps, Hitler, the Nazis, Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass), persecution, ethnic cleansing, the death trains, etc. The strategy of the game was well thought out. As players, you didn’t want to be Hitler, so you had to understand the times and his hideous plan in order to stay where you were on the board and not ascend to the top. For every wrong answer, you moved closer to “being Hitler.”

The process of playing the game brought home the idea that if you didn’t understand what was going on in society, you would be caught up in the nightmare becoming part of the problem. Discussions following the game were extremely contrite and somber. These kids understood the sins of at least THIS past generation, hopefully being somewhat equipped to stand up against injustice if a situation arose in their lives.

My son received an A on his game and presentation and the game was laid to rest forever.

Unfortunately, somehow the swastika-armband-clad-shirt ended up on a hanger in the front room of our house before it made its way back to my husband’s side of the closet. In the 18 hours it hung in the front room, the doorbell must have wrung at least five times for various and sundry reasons. When spying the shirt, several eyebrows were raised heavenward wondering what in the world was going on in the Crosby homeschool. Fumbling through various thoughts in my head, I knew I should NOT say, “We just played Who Wants to be Hitler!” I feebly came up with, “We are studying World War II,” and smiled my pretty homeschool-mom-smile… the one that makes people assume I have my act together.

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Back Off, Airbag!

March 27, 2013

I’m thankful that I am still here to write a blog for your reading pleasure.  The airbags did their duty, probably a bit more intensely than required at 35 mph, yet I am trying to keep a sense of humor in the midst of it all.  Please excuse any humor that may seem off color in our circumstances.  Remember also I am currently using narcotics.

My cute husband and I were enjoying a moment of peace and tranquility on the back patio yesterday morning, holding hands and loving the balmy Phoenix weather in March.  He squeezed my hand and conveyed a heartfelt, “I’m so glad the accident was not that bad.  I could have been going to two funerals this week!”  BAH!  I told him that his sentiments were kind but I knew he was WAY too cheap to pay for two funerals…. there would have been just one.

This morning I visited the spinal surgeon.  He had good news and bad news for me… but the good news outweighed the bad by 98%.  I am not free to discuss my injuries to the world at large, but spinal surgery was negated.  Thank God!  Then he proceeded to tell me that my spinal condition is appropriately degenerated FOR MY AGE.  What the heck was that supposed to mean?  I’m in my 40s!!  If he were a car salesman, this was the equivalent of kicking the tires and saying, “She’s got a few more miles in her despite the apparent neglect.” Good grief!

It has been 11 days since the accident and today was the first day I had a surge of energy and applied makeup!  Small steps.  It was my fourth or fifth visit to the chiropractor since the accident.  As I graced the waiting room the receptionist hollers, “OH MY GOSH!  You look so much better today!”  Yeah, thanks.  It’s just makeup.  I feel the same… still sore, achy and drugged.  My Dad always said, “If the barn needs painting, paint it!”  I gathered from her exuberance that my natural beauty was more in my mind than in reality.

I arrived home exhausted from more outings than my typical one-per-day.  While sitting at the table eating another wonderfully fabulous dinner that was delivered to us by our rockin’ homeschool peeps, my 9-year-old says to me, “I like your hair.”  Okay, seriously?  It is a day #2 hairdo with the back completely oily from a massage, and one flat side from my nap.  She kept going with her sincere flattery, “It makes you look like a teenager, Mom.  It’s pretty the way it’s not all puffy like usual.”  Wow.  What do you say to that?

By day of recovery #5 I finally felt like reading.  I read four whole pages of the 1850’s historical fiction of which I was in the midst…. during days 6, 7 and 8.  Yes, only four pages.  Then day #9 my reading juices were regenerated and I finished the book.  It was the last 1850’s historical novel I had in my possession and I was still on the couch for the better part of the day.  CRISIS!  I perused my bookshelves and discovered several stories that we were supposed to read for American History last year.  Yesterday and today I read Farewell to Manzanar a biography/history lesson about an internment camp during WW2 for 10,000 Japanese Americans on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas in California.  Every summer when we drive to Lake Tahoe, we pass right by the historical marker sign that reads   <—– MANZANAR.  Being the history loving nerd that I am, the desire to stop has surfaced every single time we pass the sign, but we have yet to stop.  Now that I’ve read the story…. we are stopping, baby.  10,000 American citizens who were considered dangerous simply by race… put in a “camp” like prisoners for THREE YEARS!  Unbelievable.  I’ve added this story here because I was hoping to see barracks, a mess haul, latrines, a pear orchard, etc.  The end of the book describes Manzanar today as a dusty, deserted piece of land with a few cement slabs if you know where to look for them.  Maybe I don’t need to stop as badly as I thought I had for the last 12 years.  We’ll see this summer.

Potato Peel Sakes Alive!

December 2, 2012

When I found myself in the Edmonton, Alberta airport last month, surrounded by snow and folks wearing parkas, I decided on a book purchase instead of a trip out of doors.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love Edmonton.  Three of my favorite people were born there.  But there was snow.  My flimsy nylon traveling sweat suit kept me behind the thick windows.  Never have I purchased a book in an airport…. I didn’t have high hopes.  But my brain needed stimulation and there were four blank hours staring me in the face.  At the overpriced shop, I came upon this gem:

On first perusal of the contents, I realized that the entire book was written in letters.  I reminisced with heartwarming thoughts of one of my favorite children’s books The Jolly Postman and Other People’s Letters.

Front Cover

Sample Interior Page 2: Goldilocks&amp;#039; delivery

Oh was I in for a treat.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society ended up being historical (my FAV!) set in France and England just after WWII.  The story involves a writer and all of the unique and utterly unbelievable people with whom she corresponds.  I cuddled with every jot and tittle.  Now I yearn to travel to Guernsey to see the steep shores and the stone houses and the green countryside.  The creativity dreamed up for these folks in horrible times was amusing and very well written.  My interest was held until the last page was turned.

Then tonight, my heart skipped a beat or two when I discovered this:

2013… NEXT YEAR the movie will appear on the big screen for me to love all over again.  Mom, we’ll have to go on opening day just like we did for The Help!